Crate training small dogs might seem like a daunting task, but it sure does not have to be.
Many people equate house training or housebreaking a puppy to crate training because crates have made the job so much easier.
A crate or cage is a type of enclosure with four sides, a top and a floor. Most crates are made of plastic or metal and have one or two doors that can be used by your puppy to enter or leave.
If you want something a little nicer than the everyday metal crate, check out the crates that resemble hardwood furniture.
Many models come in any color of the rainbow with coordinating accessories
If airline travel is in your plans, consider
a fabric or vinyl crate that will hold your pooch. You will be able to count it as a carry on
item, and your dog will be safely by your feet in the cabin. House training is not the only reason for crate training small dogs.
When introduced at a young age, most
puppies feel very safe in their crate and will go in it whenever they want to
sleep or get away from the normal commotion of a busy household.
Consider a crate a must-have if you have more than one dog. In multiple dog households, unless two dogs get along very well, they should each have their own crate.
One big mistake that many small dog owners make is to buy a crate that is too large. Puppies do develop, and whether these people are trying to save money or just feel guilty for making the puppy stay in the cage, an overly large crate defeats the house training purpose of it. But, there are ways to alter a big cage. Read on.
If you are adopting an older dog that is fully grown, the answer is simple—just follow the guidelines above and be sure the dog can comfortably stretch out if he chooses.
If you are starting with an eight-week-old puppy, it gets a little more complicated. Do you purchase the perfect little crate now and then purchase another one in a few months? Do you purchase a crate that will be complete in a few months, but will be problematic now?
Don't ever worry that your puppy won't like her crate when you're crate training small dogs.
My recommendation? Save money and buy a larger crate and find a way to partition it off, so the puppy only has access to the size he needs now. How do you do it?
Some crate manufacturers have already figured it out and sell their product with metal or plastic divider that can be removed when the puppy grows. This usually works well for most puppies, but I have heard horror stories of active dogs trying to move the barrier and get lodged between the areas. This is a sad tragedy and something to think about if you have a high energy dog, who will need to remain in a crate for extended times.
Another possibility is to use a plastic container box that will take up about ½ of the space. This has worked well for us. The final solution is to build a ½ wall and line one side with soft bedding and the other side with potty pads. This last alternative is not recommended but may be a last resort.
An alternative to crate confinement would be to use a small room or corner of the room that can be divided and blocked with infant gates or x-pens. The puppy would have their own room with their bed in the crate, water, toys and some pads to use in case of an emergency.
Many owners who work rely on one of these options for their puppy while they are away from the home. The puppy uses the pads and outdoors. This doesn’t work for all dogs and many experts will tell you that this just confuses the puppy.
At a minimum you will need a crate. It can be as simple as the one pictured to the left or as fancy as you want it to be.
Some prefer to use a travel crate because they are more portable. This one pictured to the right comes in a variety of colors
A cozy cover makes the crate a real dog den.
Make Crate Training Small Dogs Colorful
Take it one step farther and get a cover, bed and matching crate
all in your favorite color.
You can get as fancy or simple as you like with fixing up a crate. At a minimum, you will need a crate pad or soft bedding for the dog. Blankets or towels will also serve the purpose, but small dogs tend to love comfort and a thick pad or pillow is most appreciated. Many people will purchase a dog bed and place it inside the crate for their dog’s comfort.
If you want to get real cozy, you can purchase or make a crate cover that covers the crate on all four sides. Each side is sewn separately, so you can choose whether to keep all side flaps down or let your dog see the world through the front gate.
Water bottles can be attached to the crate walls or small water bowls specifically designed to work with crates can be attached to the door or walls of the crate.
If the crate is being used while you are away from home, a few little chews are most appreciated by small dogs and will keep them munching for a long time.
If this is the first time your pup has ever been in a crate, you will be much more successful if you train him to enter the crate on his own rather than picking him up and putting him there.
Start with a very tasty snack and a favorite toy. Toss the toy in first and see if he will follow. If so, reward with a treat and leave the door open for the puppy to go in and out.
If you want to associate a training command with entering the crate decide which word you will use. We always taught the word “Bed.” Say the dog’s name and the command. ‘
If she goes in, great reward and act enthusiastically. If not, you may need to lure her in with the treats and toys, still keeping the door open initially.
Place the crate near you so the dog associates the crate with treats and being in close proximity to her favorite human. Eventually, the dog will start going into the crate on her own to nap. At this point, you can try closing the door. Keep the training positive. I like to talk to the puppy if she starts to whimper rather than immediately rescuing her by opening the door.
The notion about using crates as house-training tools lies in the fact that instinctively dogs do not want to mess in their den or nest.
This goes back long before the first dog was domesticated. When puppies are born, the mother dog will work tirelessly to keep the area clean where her pups sleep by cleaning and eating any stool produced. Puppies learn at a very young age that the place where you sleep must be keep clean.
Crate training is very popular and effective method of housetraining. Since the puppy does not want to mess where he sleeps, he will learn to wait until he is released from the crate to potty. This is only as efficient as the size of the puppy’s tiny bladder.
The puppy remains in the crate when he is not eating or drinking, playing with family members, or exercising outdoors—basically the puppy is in the crate when you cannot be in direct contact with him. When you are ready to take him out, feed him or communicate, he comes out of the crate where you can supervise.
You will not want to confine your puppy to its crate for extended periods of time. Remember a young puppy cannot go much beyond 2 hours before they need to eliminate. This period lengthens as the puppy grows.
They can, however, go longer at night while asleep. This makes sense. Think about the average person. We may use the bathroom several times during the day, but sleep all night without getting up to visit the restroom.
If the crate is large enough for the puppy to stand up, turn around, stretch out and lie down, it is of sufficient size and the puppy is not likely to have an accident in it provided it doesn’t have to remain in it for extended periods of time.
You have a win-win situation. The puppy does not mess in the house and will be ready to eliminate outside as soon as you are ready to take him.
What if you work and cannot let the puppy out? It is cruel to keep a puppy confined to a crate all day.
Accidents will happen because the puppy will not have any other option. If you cannot be available, there are many options.
One method is to purchase a crate larger that is currently needed, assuming that your puppy will grow. Place blankets, mats or other bedding one side of the crate and line the other side with puppy pads or newspaper. This will allow the puppy to remain clean on the sleep side.
Another option is to place the crate in a tiny room or block off a part of a room with a wire pen called an exercise pen or X-pen. The door to the crate remains open, and the puppy can go in and out as needed.
Exercise pens provide enough room to allow for food and water dishes, a crate and a wee wee pad.
If you know someone who could come and walk your dog a couple times during the day, at least initially and then once a day when he is a little old, that might be the best alternative. There is also a dog walking services that you can hire to interact with your little one, walk, feed and water.
A crate is a wonderful tool if not abused. The puppy
learns that it is their special place and will gladly go into it to sleep or
nap. Children should be cautioned to avoid disturbing the puppy when he
is in his crate. So, as you can see crate training small dogs can be fun and your dog will love you for your efforts.
If you enjoyed this article on crate training small dogs , you might find our
information on house training useful.