If you have made a decision to crate train your puppy, and you have a full-time job, you have made a wise decision. During the time you are away from home, a puppy that is left up to his own devices will become bored and will find any way that he sees fit to entertain himself. Not only can this scenario be dangerous, it can also be costly if he finds comfort in shredding your home furnishings. Not to mention, you may find that housebreaking your puppy is next to impossible, because he will be spending the better part of the day relieving himself wherever he chooses. But, by using a crate and following the proper crate training guidelines, you can set the groundwork for a healthy relationship between you and your puppy, which will eliminate many of the stresses that are often associated with pet owners that work full-time hours.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Appropriately sized crate
- Stuffed animal
- Worn T-shirt
- Neighbour or dog sitter
Consider bringing your new puppy into your home at the end of the workweek. If you work full time and have off on the weekends, late Friday afternoon or early Saturday morning would be appropriate. Introducing the puppy to his new home when you'll be there for a solid block of time will give both of you a chance to get acquainted before your full-time schedule kicks in again on Monday morning.
Get your puppy accustomed to his crate, pronto. Don't pull any punches; if he cries and whines when you put him in, don't remove him because his sad eyes are making you feel guilty. He will get used to it, and it will become his safe spot, and he will eventually go into his crate on his own when he wants to be alone. Most important, he must spend his first night at home in his crate, even if that means it's going to be a long night of whimpering.
Spend the weekend getting your puppy used to his surroundings and your anticipated routine. If you usually wake up at 6:00 am to begin primping for work, do the same on the weekend so your puppy can get used to it. If you brought your puppy home on Friday night, wake up 6:00 am on Saturday. The same would go for a Saturday homecoming; wake up at 6:00 am on Sunday morning and continue the cycle every morning thereafter.
Open the crate door and invite your puppy out at soon as you wake up at 6:00 am. Do not go into the crate and pull him out; invite him. Remember, the crate is his safe place. If he is choosing to be stubborn, entice him with a toy or treat. And even though he may be feeling a bit temperamental, more than likely it will be short lived, and he will be more than happy to come out when you open the door.
Do not give him the opportunity to start playing or sniffing around. When you take him out of the crate it is not playtime. He is to immediately be taken outside to the area in which he is expected to relieve himself. If he is tiny enough just pick him up and bring him out. If he is larger, leash him and guide him outside.
Coax him to relieve himself upon guiding him to his outside location. Use the same words each time you bring him to the spot. Common words are "go pee," or "potty." Use whatever you prefer, but be consistent.
Praise him when he goes---not just a monotone "good boy" or a pleasant "good job." Give big praise. Use a loud, high-pitched voice to let him know that you are very pleased with what he has just done. You can do a little dance for extra effect, rub his head, and just make sure he gets it. Even if the temperature is -12.2 degrees C below outside, praise him big time before running back into the house.
Give him some playtime. When he has emptied himself out, it is safe to have him roaming around your home. It is also a good idea during this time to give him his breakfast. But remember, a puppy will usually need to relieve himself anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes after he has eaten, so don't start doing chores and forget about him. If you pass the 10-to-15 minute mark, and he has an accident in the house, you have just missed the perfect opportunity to make a correction. Take him out again within the 10-to-15 minute time frame, but be alert. If you see him begin to start sniffing around your carpet like he is looking for a spot any earlier, take him out then. Praise him and bring him back inside. Let him play again, and as soon as you know that you are going to become busy with other things, and you will not be able to keep an eye on him, pop him back in his crate. The whole concept here is to use the crate to confine him when you cannot give him your full attention. When you become busy, and he has an accident in the house and you miss it, chances are you will scold him after the fact. Your puppy will not understand this. He needs to get the correction when you catch him in the act in order for it to be effective.
Continue the procedure for the remainder of the weekend. Waking up, taking him outside. Feeding him and taking him outside, once again. Play with him; take him outside if he starts sniffing around. Repeat the same routine over and over again. And at bedtime he should be in his crate, but immediately before retiring for the evening, take him outside one last time.
Wake up at your usual morning hour. Open the crate door and take your puppy out. Bring him in, feed him, and pop him back in the crate. Chances are you will be busy getting ready for work and may forget about him within 10 to 15 minutes and miss the accident. So while you take your 10-minute morning shower, crate him.
Dry yourself off, put on your robe and slippers, and take your puppy outside to relieve himself. Praise him and bring him back into the house.
Bring him into the area in which you will be dressing or beautifying yourself, so that you can keep one eye on the mirror, and one eye on him. If you see him sniffing, drop the toothbrush and take him outside again, then praise him and come back inside.
Make your coffee, eat your breakfast, and read the paper with one eye on the headlines and the other on him. And stop right before you are getting ready to grab your briefcase and car keys and head out the door. Take your puppy outside one more time. Praise him, bring him back in the house, and put him back in his crate and secure the door. Say goodbye and don't feel guilty. His crate is the safest place for him to be, and the most appropriate way to keep your home and personal belongings intact while you are away. For company, you can provide him with a worn T-shirt that harbours your smell, or a small stuffed animal. He will be fine.
Come home for lunch and let him outside once again to relieve himself. Now this is going to be the tricky part. If you have left your home at 8:30 am, a young puppy cannot hold his urine for more than 3 to 4 hours. So, it would stand to reason that by 12:30 pm, he will need to go. If you cannot come home for lunch, ask a close neighbour or dog sitter for assistance. Otherwise, he will urinate in his crate. The good news is, if he does, he won't be happy about it. Why is that good? Because dogs prefer not to urinate where they sleep. As he grows larger, he will be able to hold his urine longer, and he will refuse to go in his bed. Eventually, he will be able to hold it for the entire 8 hours that you are away at work.
Greet your puppy, ask him how his day was, open up his crate door and take him outside once again. Praise him, bring him back inside the house and feed him his dinner. Repeat the entire scenario, every day for the remainder of your puppy's years, and you will have a happy, housetrained and well adjusted, adult dog.
Tips and warnings
- Your puppy's crate should be only large enough for him to stand up, and turn around. That is all the room he needs. A crate that is too big will give him enough room to urinate in a corner and still have plenty of room leftover to lay away from it. This will defeat the whole purpose of crate training. If you have planned for his future size, and your crate is large, shove an oversized stuffed animal toward the back of the crate to take up some room. Remove it when he is bigger and more space is necessary.
- Give your dog plenty of attention and exercise when you are with him. Play with him, take him for walks and set aside as much time as you can to make up for the times that you are away, in order to keep him well adjusted and prevent separation anxiety.
- Never give your puppy food or water in his crate. This is an absolute no, no. It is not a kennel, and chances are that you will only come home to a mess. The crate is a place for him to safely rest while you are away.
- Never let your puppy sleep with you at night. He should be sleeping in his crate. If he cries all night, eventually, just as a baby learns to sleep through the night in her crib, your puppy will too.
- Never take your eyes off your puppy. These fur balls have a way of getting into things that will cause them harm, induce destructive tendencies, and just make you angry. When you can't watch him, he should be in his crate.
- It is important to catch your puppy when he is in the act. Whether he has had an accident or chewed your cell phone, you must catch him doing it. If you scold him after the fact, he will become confused and your reprimand will be meaningless. When you do scold him, use a firm, deep voice. He will begin to think twice about repeating the act, and soon he will be able to distinguish between right and wrong by the tone of your voice.
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