The great crate: part II

| July 6, 2011

Dog crate.In my last column, I talked about crate training as a key tactic in eliminating many negative or destructive behaviors that are typical for puppies. The basics of crate training are that you give your puppy a safe, secure and comfortable place to be when you can’t watch for and correct bad behaviors.

There is, of course, no behavior we’re looking to avoid more than a dog going to the bathroom in the house. I have yet to find any technique that eliminates this behavior more quickly than the crate.

Here’s the deal. Your puppy doesn’t like his own waste anymore than you do. He certainly doesn’t want it in his bedroom (crate). So if he’s in his crate, he’s probably not going to go to the bathroom.

Now, here is the training part. Every single time you take your dog out of the crate, you both go outside, and he goes to the bathroom. That seems simple, right? Well it is, and it isn’t. It’s a simple theory, and it does work. Your dog quickly learns that the first thing he does when he leaves the crate is go No. 1 or No. 2 outside.

At that point, your dog is actually trained. However, there are times when your dog isn’t going to go right away when you take him outside. This requires patience on your part. It also means you have to plan and stick to a schedule.

Don’t take your dog out of the crate every 20 minutes. He won’t need to go that often, and you’re only going to confuse your dog. Conversely, you’re going to have to make sure you can take him out of the crate on a regular schedule to go to the bathroom, which should be followed by play time and exercise.

A puppy cannot spend your entire workday in the crate without breaks. Your dog will most certainly fail crate training with that approach. I wrote this in my last column, but it bears repeating: Never punish your dog by putting him in the crate. This will also most likely lead to crate training failure.

There are a few things you can do to augment crate training. First, teach your dog to eliminate on command. It seems difficult, but it’s not. It’s really just word association. When you’re outside with your dog and he starts to potty, simply repeat the word “potty” several times. When he finishes, praise him enthusiastically. You will be amazed how quickly he associates the word with the deed and the desired praise that follows.

And did you know you can schedule your dog’s poops? It’s quite simple, but it starts with feeding. Feed your dog twice a day on a schedule. Follow that with a nice walk 20 to 30 minutes later and chances are your dog will never have a No. 2 accident in the house. This works when you avoid free feeding. If your dog doesn’t eat within 10 to 15 minutes of putting the food down, the food goes away until the next mealtime. Your dog will very quickly learn to eat on a schedule, which should put his digestive system on a schedule as well.

The bottom line is that all of these techniques depend on your consistency as a pet owner. Dogs learn quickly and feel most secure with a routine. Give your puppy a good routine, and he most likely will learn quickly.

David Loignon is the owner of Home Buddies Premier In-home Pet Care. You can reach him via e-mail at <a href=”mailto:louisville­east@myhomebuddies.com”>louisville­east@myhomebuddies.com</a> or www.myhomebuddies.com/louisvilleeast.

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Category: The Pet Buddy

About the Author (Author Profile)

David Loignon
After 25 years as a journalist and television production executive I turned
my career 180 degrees and opened a pet care business; Home Buddies
Louisville. I couldn’t abandon journalism altogether though, so now I write
The Pet Buddy, a weekly column to help you improve the lives of your
four-legged family members. When I’m not hanging out with my wife Julie and
our rescued fur-kids you will find me on a bicycle racing for The
TwinSpires.com Cycling Team.

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