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Crate it - the secret to a happy dog

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Crate Training

Let me just say this about crate training……….It is NOT AN OPTION. Don't be cheap, just go get a crate big enough for your puppy to grow into and USE IT. It will be one of your best investments.

For my male Dobes I use a crate that is 40" X 27" X 30". females 36" X 24 X 30". This gives them room to move and lie down. I only recommend the plastic crate like a Vari Kennel, or Porta Pet. I do NOT recommend or use ever the wire cage except at dog shows and in the car. It is just too easy for a puppy to get a toenail hung up and ripped out, a collar hung up or in the case of Dobes- those ears while wrapped. Should your puppy have an accident the plastic crate is very easy to clean. The wire mesh is too easy to spill on the floor when trying to empty it so it runs through onto the floor, carpet etc. While the puppy is little I block off the back half of the crate so that he doesn't have room to move around and potty.

Dogs are naturally a den animal so the CRATE is NOT cruel. It gives them a sense of security and safety. It gives you peace of mind, allows you to better control the house breaking process, and eliminates the frustration of coming home and finding the couch scattered all over the living room floor, shoes chewed or vases broken etc. 

I have found that puppies that are properly crate trained do NOT suffer from the separation anxiety like a dog that is not crate trained. So if you don't have one GET ONE before you bring the puppy home. Hopefully your breeder used a crate so it will not be a foreign object to the puppy.

When I put the puppy in the crate during the day I always give a good rawhide chew toy and a doggie bone. This makes it a pleasant experience and keeps the puppy busy for the first few minutes. This helps them settle right down. I say: "Kennel up" as they go in to build a command for when I want them to go into something. This will help when loading in a car. I say: "Kennel up" when I want them to jump into the back of the SUV or truck.

If you are leaving during the day, put the puppy in the crate with a treat as described above. 

Now lets talk about the coming home. I don't make it a big deal because we have WORK to do BEFORE we greet. Upon arriving home I may go straight to the crate or I may make a pit stop first then open the door and say: OUT let's go OUT. I take the puppy out and follow the steps as explained in the House Breaking section.

When we come back inside we have our greeting that is their praise for being a good dog and going outside. If it is dinnertime we simply proceed to feeding. If you are doing your praising often when they do what you have asked, and you spend plenty of time with them playing etc. then coming home should NOT be a big deal. It is just another step in our schedule. NO baby talking and making sad sounds because you are leaving. This is what triggers anxiety.  You are telling the dog its is a sad or worrisome time.  Same with greeting when you return.  Set the puppy up for success from the beginning.  

A BIG greeting upon arriving home or a long sad drawn out leaving causes anxiety trauma. So Kennel Up on leaving with a treat and Out when arriving home. This establishes the routine and builds security for the puppy.

Until 6 months of age I would not leave a puppy for the entire day. 4 hours max. Schedule your lunch hour to come home and let the puppy out if you must work.  By 6 months the puppy should be able to make it though the day or night without having an accident in their crate.

If you cannot come home or the puppy can't make it through the night (& you don't want to get up and take them out) then you will need to set up an area where you can confine the puppy with his crate and a small area for him to come out and potty. Put lots of papers down. After this the same principles apply. Take the puppy outside for potty and duty immediately upon awaking or coming home. Clean up the papers when the puppy is outside. Do not let the puppy see you cleaning up the mess.

Now the BIG KEY is once the puppy is placed in the crate no amount of howling, barking or throwing a fit will get the puppy ANY attention. That means you do not look at the puppy, you do not speak to the puppy in any way, you do not go to the puppy and give another toy……………..IT MEANS YOU COMPLETELY IGNORE THE PUPPY AS IF IT WASN'T EVEN THERE! That is final, no discussion.

This puppy depends on you for guidance and you want to build a strong bond of trust and loyalty. How you handle these situations determines the out come for the rest of the dogs life. How you handle this training is the difference in making a loving trusting well behaved pet that is a pleasure to have around and others admire, or creating a nightmare. Either way it is YOU who makes the difference. 

No one can guarantee that they can always be there to take care of things.  So I personally do not see a crate as only a puppy tool. It is for on going training.  A dogs should have times during the week when they are crated.  Then if you ever have to leave the dog with someone else they will be safe and easy to manage because they are very comfortable in their crate.  A dog that suffers from separation anxiety never learned to be comfortable in its own skin but feels it must have constant attention.  No one can give constant attention 24/7.  This is an unreasonable expectation and will fail at some point.

You can take ANY puppy and properly socialize it, teach it some basic manners and have a dog that is a pleasure to be around. Neglect this while it is little and the job is 10 times harder after 6 months because the dog has established his OWN idea of how things are suppose to be.  

Copyright © 2010 Suzan Shipp/Dobs4ever. All rights reserved. Revised: ALL PICTURES AND CONTENT ON THIS BLOG ARE THE SOLE PROPERTY OF Suzan Shipp/J Bar S Dobermans and may not be used, copied or reprinted without express permission from the owner. Copyrighted 2010

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