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New Puppy Care

Updated: Jan 5

Puppies are quickly growing and changing. They need plenty of sleep to fuel and recharge their growing bodies. From 2-5 months old, puppies generally sleep around 18-20 hours in 24 hours. This includes sleeping at night and daytime naps.

On the first night, you put the pup's crate on a chair next to the bed so you and the puppy sleep "together" and can hear each other breathe. I even recommend sticking your fingers through the wire for a few minutes. It worked well for me! Then on subsequent nights, I moved the chair away from the bed little by little and onto the floor. Not a peep! (Of course, this is no substitute for getting the pups to love the crate, as you recommend, but on the puppy's first few nights home, most people don't achieve that level of training! They want to try and get a little sleep!)

Did you know crate training a puppy is the quickest and easiest way to keep your home a 'puddle-free' zone? Housebreaking is one of the first and most important tasks all new puppy owners face, but it can often be one of the most frustrating ones too!

But potty training doesn't need to be stressful or frustrating for you or your pup.

Years of experience have taught me that there's a very straightforward way to teach a pup to eliminate where you want him to while at the same time minimizing the number of accidents he has during the learning process...... it's called puppy crate training.

You may wonder why puppy crate training is so great and may even feel that you don't want to put your precious baby in a 'cage.' But a dog crate is an amazingly versatile piece of equipment, and it's not just an effective puppy housebreaking tool. It will help you and your puppy in more ways than you might think, and as dogs are naturally 'den' animals, your little guy (or gal) will feel safe and secure in his crate.

As he ages, he'll enjoy being in his cozy, safe little hideaway.

It helps your puppy learn where you expect him to pee/poop (and where you don't!)

Keeps him safe and protects your furniture and possessions when you're not around to supervise him

It keeps him safe when traveling in the car or by air

It helps prevent separation anxiety issues

Introducing your puppy to his crate

The main reason why crate training a puppy is so practical is that it taps into your pup's natural desire to keep his 'den' clean. In the wild, puppies would shuffle out of their den to eliminate - even if it's only two tiny puppy-sized steps outside! This is an instinctive behavior and is hard-wired into their little brains. Now, your little guy has never seen a real 'den,' but being in his crate will trigger that deep-seated instinct, and he'll naturally do his best not to pee or poop until you let him out. Although crate training a puppy will help make housebreaking much easier for you both, your puppy is a baby and has other instincts to deal with too. One of them is that he instinctively wants to be next to his pack, now YOU.

He feels anxious and worried if he's away from you (because in the wild, a puppy who gets separated is vulnerable and in great danger). This is why he will cry, complain, fuss, and whine at first, not because he hates his crate!

When you're crate training a puppy, it makes the whole process more manageable if you let him get used to his new crate and feel comfortable around it before he has to spend much time inside it. And as he's a domesticated dog and not a lone wolf, he needs to get used to being separated from you for short periods, so it's okay to ignore the fussing. Of course, he's perfectly safe... he doesn't know it yet. Something worth mentioning here is that you should never use the crate as punishment. Your puppy must consider his crate a safe, happy place to chew on his favorite toys! Putting him in his crate as a punishment or when you're angry with him will undo all the hard work you invested in the first place.

Here are some basic rules of crate training and a few ideas for ways in which you can help your puppy get accustomed to his new crate and learn that it's a fun place to spend time -

Open access-

When you begin crate training a puppy, leave the crate door open, and throw some delicious treats inside, all the way to the back. Puppy curiosity will get the better of your little fur ball sooner or later, and he'll venture inside to claim them.

Feed him inside-Give your puppy his meals inside the crate (with the door open). This way, he learns to associate one of his favorite things (food!) with his crate. If he seems scared, feed him outside the crate door several times, then try it inside again.

Play Hide & Seek-Make crate training a puppy fun by playing this game. Put a tasty treat or special toy inside his crate and encourage your puppy to 'find' it. Using a cheerful, friendly voice, say, "Where's your goodie? Let's find it?".Follow the search with praise, such as "Oh. There it is. It's in your crate (or bed, house, whatever you want to call it). What a good boy, you found it!"

It gives him a safe place to get some alone time, rest, and relax.

When you think your pup is ready to spend time with the door closed, start with brief periods and work up. Here are some more 'rules' (and a couple of hard-earned tips) to make this part of crate training a puppy a bit less stressful for both of you:

Give him a potty break first.

Ensure your puppy has been outside to 'do his business' before you crate him, even for short periods. This way, when he starts fussing right away, you know he doesn't have an urgent need to 'go,' and it cuts down on the chances he'll eliminate in there.

Put his favorite toy in with him, like the snuggle puppy (heartbeat stuffed animal)

Try to have a special toy for your puppy to play with only when he's in his crate. Ensure he likes it and is safe (no loose parts etc.) It'll stave off boredom and help him forget he's not outside running around. If you have an old T-shirt or something similar that you don't mind getting ruined (it's possible it'll get peed on, pooped on, or chewed beyond recognition), you could put that in the crate too. Your puppy will feel happier and be reassured if he can 'smell' you right next to him.

Don't just shut him in and then leave the room.

Young puppies want to be with their people at all times, and if you disappear, he'll be scared, and you don't want him to make that kind of association with his crate. At first, try to stay in the room, or at the very least within sight, and sound, of his crate.

Ignore the initial 'fussing.'

Crate training a puppy is going to take a lot of work. Almost all puppies will fuss and cry the first few times. Remember, they want to be right next to you! If you take your puppy out as soon he starts whining, I can guarantee he'll whine even louder and longer next time. Anyone who's raised children will know all about this phenomenon! Stay close by but ignore the racket and don't make eye contact.

There's one caveat here. Occasionally you'll find a puppy who is particularly highly strung and nervous and may suffer from severe separation anxiety when put in his crate.

If your puppy appears 'hysterical' (whining, barking, scratching, throwing himself around, has a bowel movement, or is panting heavily), it's best to let him out and consult your veterinarian or an experienced dog trained for advice on how best to handle that. He may have a tendency towards anxious behavior, such as separation anxiety.

But don't be fooled too easily. Your puppy may act like a crazy dog for a few minutes but then settle down to the occasional whine. If he's generally not an anxious, highly nervous dog, he's unlikely to develop raging anxiety issues because of his crate.

The freedom bell rings!

Wait for quiet before letting him out of his crate.

Whether your puppy is in his crate for 5 mins or 30, never open the door and let him out while he's crying and complaining. Please wait for a lull first, or he'll think he's getting out because he's making such a fuss.

Don't fuss over him when the time is up.

When it's time for your little puppy to come out of his crate, open the door and put on his leash without making a big fuss of him, take him outside right away so he can 'potty' in his usual spot, then it's time for play and lots of love! If you give him a big welcome the minute his paws hit the kitchen floor, it'll make him desperate to get out the whole time he's crated.

When you begin crate training a puppy, start with short crating periods and work your way up. Here's a general guide to the length of time your puppy can spend in his crate during the daytime hours

9 - 10 weeks old - 30 mins

11 - 14 weeks old - 1 - 3 hours

15 - 18 weeks old - 3 - 4 hours

18 weeks plus - 4 - 6 hours

The rules are different when it comes to overnight crating. Try to put your puppy in his crate beside your bed at night, or at least somewhere you can hear him (although you may wish you couldn't hear him at 2 am). Remember, he's still a baby and, as such, will need to go out to 'potty' at least once during the night.

Crate training a puppy at night time is easier if you ensure he's had a potty break and hasn't had access to drinking water after, says, 8 pm. That way, he'll most likely sleep for several hours before needing to go out. Don't ignore his crying at that point, as he won't be able to hold it in, and if forced to potty in his crate, it'll make housebreaking him much more difficult.

This stage only lasts a short while, and you'll be glad you persevered when you have a clean, housebroken dog.

What if he has an 'accident' in his crate?

As I explained earlier, crate training a puppy works because dogs are natural den animals and will try hard not to mess up where they sleep. If your puppy regularly eliminates in his dog crate, the answer may lie in the following checklist -

Did you forget to give him a potty break before you put him in his crate?

Did he drink a lot of water immediately before being crated?

Did you leave a blanket or soft toys/bedding in there with him? Pups are likelier to pee on something soft than on the crate's hard, smooth floor.

Could he have worms or an upset tummy due to a change in diet or stress?

Could he have a medical problem, such as a urine infection?

No matter what reason your pup has for messing in his crate, do be sure to clean the crate thoroughly so that the scent of his 'accident' doesn't encourage him to get in the habit of re-soiling repeatedly.

The best type of cleaners to use when you're crate training a puppy is the enzymatic ones, which break down and destroy the odors of urine, feces, and vomit. Natures Miracle Advanced Stain and Odor Remover is the one I recommend.

Crate Training Safety

One of the reasons for crate training a puppy is that it helps keep him safe - but there are a few things you need to do to ensure he stays that way.

Never leave a chain, harness, training, or slip collar on your puppy when you put him in his crate. It could get caught up on something, and then he'll panic, which could be tragic.

Don't leave your puppy crated in a hot room, in sunlight (even indoors) or outside in the direct sun, or in a car on a sunny day. It doesn't take much for a puppy or dog to overheat, and the results could be tragic.

A crated puppy or dog can tend to feel cornered if approached or teased. Even an even-tempered, docile dog can react by growling or snapping if he feels threatened. Never allow children to tease your puppy while he's in his crate or push their fingers through the doors or wire panels.

His crate is meant to be your puppy's haven; as such, he has a right to peace and quiet and to feel safe inside.

Housebreaking and crate training a puppy are one of the most significant early challenges you'll experience as a new 'parent,'...but some basic knowledge and a positive attitude can get you a long way…

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