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postheadericon For many new dog owners, housetraining is one of the most challenging parts of introducing a new canine into the family

For many new dog owners, housetraining is one of the most challenging parts of introducing a new canine into the family. Until that puppy learns how to go outside, chances are that you’ll be spending quite a bit of time cleaning up messes and dreading the smell when you open your front door.

But many people struggle with understanding the best way to teach their puppy how to go not only where you want but also when you want. After all, having your puppy on a schedule for using the bathroom is almost as important.

The solution in most cases is crate training. This is a relatively easy approach to house training that also provides some other useful benefits puppy owners should appreciate.

Why Crate Train?

First, crate training is intended to take advantage of your dog’s natural impulses. Although dogs have been domesticated, they still have some of those old instincts that helped their ancestors survive and thrive for millions of years. Some of those instincts relate to the concept of having a den.

A den is a safe haven for the animal where he or she can retreat without fear of being harmed. The den was the preferred location for sleeping, rearing young, and other activities. But to keep the den protected, dogs also had to keep it from being too easy to find. Since most predators use their sense of smell pretty well to find prey, the den was not a place for dogs to go to the bathroom. Their urine and feces would attract other animals and would endanger the safety of the den.

Dogs simply don’t go to the bathroom in their den unless out of absolute necessity.

The purpose of the crate is to give your dog a den in the home. This crate becomes his or her sanctuary.

But it also provides you with peace of mind. As long as your puppy is confined to the crate, he or she can’t be out doing damage to the rest of your house or getting into trouble by chewing on electrical cords or eating things that could get lodged in the intestines, for example.

Basically, crate training provides your dog with a safe place to call his or her own. Plus, it keeps him or her safe during the day while also working as an invaluable tool for housebreaking. Now let’s see how you can get started.

Picking the Crate

The first step is to choose the crate you want to use for your pet. Two types are available: the hard plastic models used for airplane travel and the wire types. If you have a big dog, you’ll probably be stuck with the wire type. Otherwise, you can choose whichever you think will be the best choice for your dog.

Keep in mind that the crate should only be big enough for your dog to stand up comfortably, lie down, and turn around. If you give the dog too much room, he or she could use part of the crate for a den and part for a bathroom spot which would defeat the purpose.

To keep costs reasonable, purchase a crate that will be large enough for your full-size dog but use dividers which can also be purchased to restrict the space available to your puppy.

Getting the Puppy Comfortable with the Crate

Next, you have to help your puppy get comfortable inside the crate. Most dogs are not going to immediately love the crate. They won’t like being confined and away from you. But you can make the situation easier by going slowly, using treats and praise to reinforce the desired behavior, and letting the puppy explore the crate on his own.

When you bring home the crate, leave it open so the dog can go into it and sniff it at his leisure. Then you can begin luring your puppy into the crate with treats and praising him for going inside.

After he is doing that well, you can lure him into the crate and close the door. This might cause some crying and whining from your puppy. Let him stay inside the crate for a minute or two then let him out. Do not let him out while he is still crying, however. Otherwise, he will cry every time you try to put him in the crate because he’ll know this behavior will get him released.

Keep expanding the time the puppy is in the crate with the door closed until he begins to feel comfortable. Then you can practice leaving the room, leaving the house, and staying away for longer periods of time. Each time remember to praise your puppy when you release him from the crate but never release him until he has calmed down.

House Breaking & the Crate

To use the crate for house breaking, be sure to give your dog food and water at least an hour before putting her in the crate. Take the puppy to the bathroom, preferably for a walk with a potty break, before she is placed in the crate.

Do not give your puppy food or water in the crate. These things will only make a mess and will cause the puppy to need to urinate or defecate badly.

Keep in mind that young puppies may not be able to “hold it” as long as you would like. For this reason, it’s a good idea to come home at least once during the day to take your puppy to the bathroom. If you can’t, you may want to hire someone to do this for you. Even adult dogs should not be left in crates for longer than 6 to 8 hours a day.

As soon as you let your puppy out of the crate, take him or her to the bathroom immediately. Praise him or her when they do what you want and quickly they will learn the routine.

If an accident does occur in the crate, clean it thoroughly with an enzyme-destroying cleaner so the dog won’t be able to smell the accident and assume that is an appropriate place to use the bathroom. Otherwise you’ll just keep repeating the problem.

Finally, don’t punish your dog for having an accident. You could end up causing them to fear the crate, as well as you.

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