Callie's Question Corner

Crate Training

Crating a dog is often like adding a room onto your house JUST for the dog! Teenagers likes their own room -- dogs do too!

Exactly what is crate training, and how much is a crate? How long could I leave a puppy in a crate? Could I during school, or is that too long?
This is a URL that will give a good description of what it is and why to use one: - A crate costs probably between $80-100 in a store for the size you'll need. You can put his bed IN the crate if you want to (or even just the pillowcase with the blanket -- but a box half the size of the inside of the crate would be PERFECT!)

Now, if you've never seen or heard of a crate before -- they are NOT cruel. To us they look like a 'cage' -- but to a dog it is HOME. When you leave in the morning, you will leave water and food, toys and a favorite blanket in that crate for your buddy. Then soon as you get home, take them out but leave that crate door open! When things get a bit rough or they've done something naughty -- let them have "time out" in their crate (just like a little kid!). But also respect it as "their space" -- if they get tired they'll go there! You want the biggest crate you can accommodate for the dog -- bare minimum it should be one and a half times as high as the dog is and at LEAST twice as long. A crate is like a metal cage thingamy. There is a removable tray at the bottom of some of them (you only use that for puppys -- so their poops fall through and you can clean it easily). Crating helps housebreaking because a dog naturally doesn't want to soil where it sleeps!

I'd really really really urge you NOT to just leave him outside all day!!! The practical reason is that he needs someplace to get in out of the rain and sun. BUT .. particularly with your situation ... a dog that's left outside is a dog that is BORED!!! A bored dog DIGS and BARKS!!!! A crated dog plays with his toys and sleeps and is usually very contented. They learn to "hold it" more easily -- most dogs will not poop where they sleep!!! Then soon as you get home, let him out, exercise and play with him. Leave the crate open tho, so when he gets tired he has someplace to go that's "his". I explain it this way -- it's a lot like your parents added on a room JUST for the dog!!! It gets its own "room" that way!!! They need space that is THEIRS. This also keeps them from being destructive and learning bad habits like barking and digging!

Please please get a crate Sarah. It will keep YOU out of trouble and it will keep the PUP out of trouble. How will it keep YOU out of trouble? Trust me -- the first time the dog eats something it shouldn't you'll hear "SARAH -- just LOOK what ***YOUR*** dog has done!!! Why didn't you take better care of him!!!"

I'm still wondering if school days are too long for the puppy to stay in the crate. I'll have all summer home with him, but when school starts? If a get a crate one size bigger than necessary, could I leave him in the whole school day? Would a kennel/travel type thing be better, or a playpen, or a metal crate?
Nope -- school days aren't "too long" -- ESPECIALLY after you have the summer to begin training. In fact, normal adult work days aren't "too long". The animal primarily sleeps and quietly plays in it's crate. It IS important when you get home to let them out and play with them and exercise them (walks/runs in the back yard, etc.) And yes, that's why I recommended 'a size bigger' -- gives them a bit more room to play and it also alows you to set it up so the back "half" of the crate has a folded up blanket or piece of thick carpet (with the pillow case cover I talked about) so he has something "comfy" to lie on for long periods. But the "front" half of the crate (only til the pup is housebroken and matures enough to "hold it" all day) should be open in case of accidents. This lets wetness and poop fall through to the tray below so he doesn't have to lie in anything wet or nasty. You'll find he won't have accidents long IN the crate. They truly do NOT like to soil near where they sleep! This is how it "helps" with housebreaking.
Should I get a crate, a playpen, or a kennel? We don't travel too much. I read my puppy book! So I have to slowly leave thedog at home for longer and longer periods of time before school starts in his crate to get used to spending long amounts of time in his crate and avoid separation anxiety? Can do.
There will be times (unfortuante but tru) that you will use the crate for discipline -- and it will need a door. Don't use a plastic one (those are for travel -- they don't let the dog see out -- and there's not much air circulation. A playpen type of thing is too easy for them to either jump over or knock over -- get the actual cage-like thingy that has the tray that slides in and out of the bottom -- that's the part that helps in potty training them (at night and when you're away) -- if they GOTTA go they can but then they don't lay in wet or soil. Don't get too rigid about the amount of time you leave him for in the crate -- do start out with short periods of time -- but if he's sleeping in it -- that in itself is a "long" time -- there will be times when you are out shopping or doing something with someone and you'll need to leave him in there. He'll survive -- they're pretty flexible!
For a bed, could I use a big basket with a blanket inside?
Yeah, a basket is fine OR, my FAVORITE bed of all time is a nice big box that you cut down so the sides are about 6" high. Then, get a roll of contact paper (Mom can get that cheap at the grocery store -- she might help you with this little project) and cover that cut-down box inside and out!!! You just made a nice little bed that's totally disposable if it gets ruined or chewed! Puppies DO that! Take that blanket --- yes that will work FINE. BUT .. ask Mom for an old, old pillowcase that she doesn't want anymore. Fold the blanket up and put it INSIDE the pillowcase (like it was a pillow!). Now, every week when you change your own bedding, change the dogs! This will do a LOT to keeping his bed from getting smelly! In fact, the bed can easily get soiled -- so that pillowcase can be washed any time. Once in a while you can wash the blanket but trust me the pillowcase is easier to wash!

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