Crate training?
October 5, 2004 1:15 PM   Subscribe

A new puppy in the house. Where should she stay when I am at work? I've been told a crate, but then some people said crating is only when you're home.
posted by benjh to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Crate until she is trained. Even after you think she is trained, keep her in a small room so that you can be certain she is trained not doing the nasty in weird corners you don't check.
posted by geoff. at 1:20 PM on October 5, 2004

We keep our now 3-year-old miniture schnauzer in her crate while we are both at work. But she has seperation anxiety and has a habit of getting into the trash, making messes, and barking at the slightest noises when we leave her alone for too long. She enjoys being in her crate for those eight hours as a break from all of the nerve-racking sounds and things a lonely dog may encounter. It has come to be her peaceful retreat, and she will put herself in her crate if she feels she needs a time out.
posted by rhapsodie at 1:47 PM on October 5, 2004

Yes, crate certainly. However, it's completely unreasonable (not mention ineffective) to crate a puppy eight or nine hours at a stretch. She won't be able to hold it that long and getting her used to relieving herself in the crate will just make training harder.

I remember a rule of thumb that the maximum time a puppy should be crated is her age in months plus one: three hours at a time for your new puppy. If no one's available to take her out after that, then you shouldn't be crating her. Gate her into a small room with newspapers on the floor instead.
posted by timeistight at 1:47 PM on October 5, 2004

I found a crate-training web page with a lot of good info:
posted by timeistight at 2:43 PM on October 5, 2004

We kept our dog in a crate when he was a puppy. He liked going in there. I drove home at lunch and let him out for a few weeks, then we hired a dog walker. Now he's two and a half and not in the crate, but we still have the walker.
posted by drobot at 3:11 PM on October 5, 2004

Crate, but make sure you train her to accept it. Ian Dunbar's puppy books (now together in one convenient volume!) are some of the best puppy raising books there are, and as timeistight mentioned, someone will absolutely have to let her out for a potty break at least once during the day - you can get a dogwalker or someone to do this for you. She will not be able to hold it for 8-10 hours, and once you force her to over-ride her natural inclination to keep her sleeping area (i.e. her crate) clean, you will have a hell of a time housetraining her. Also, if she sleeps in her crate at night (my dogs never do, I find housetraining much easier if the puppy sleeps in my bed, and it helps a lot with bonding and helping the puppy get over the initial shock of not being with its littermates), the crate should be in your bedroom, ideally up on a nightstand near your head, so you can talk to her and she can see you. Dogs are social, they need their people nearby, especially when they're babies. I never crate my dog when I'm home except when I'm initially training them to accept it - if I'm around, my dog is with me.
posted by biscotti at 3:27 PM on October 5, 2004

Our puppy is 9 months old now, and we have been crating him while we are gone since we got him at 8 weeks old. As others recommended, we still have a dog walker who comes and lets him out at lunchtime if one of us can't go home that day, even though at this point he could probably hold it all day.

When we're home, we don't crate him. When we were first housebreaking him, we did crate him at home while we slept. The whining was hard to take while he got used to the crate at night, as was the getting up at 3 am to let him out. But we got him at the start of a 3 or 4 day weekend, so there were a few nights in the crate with us there before we left him at home in the crate by himself.

But if you let your puppy roam around while you're home, you need to keep a close eye on him at all times (in case he starts to pee on your floor you need to be able to grab him mid-pee and take him outside), and believe me it can be very tiring.
posted by pitchblende at 5:03 PM on October 5, 2004

But if you let your puppy roam around while you're home, you need to keep a close eye on him at all times (in case he starts to pee on your floor you need to be able to grab him mid-pee and take him outside), and believe me it can be very tiring.

This is a really good point. The "umbilical cord technique" works really well - attach a lead to the puppy's collar, and the other end to your belt - this way the puppy is always with you, which is both good for housetraining and good for bonding (unsupervised puppies should be confined to a crate or an x-pen or a puppy-proofed room). By the way, a good potty schedule for a puppy is: after every meal, every sleep, every playtime and at least every 2-4 hours otherwise for the first few months (you can stretch it at bedtime, some sleep through the night very early). The fewer messes the puppy has in the house, the faster she will be housetrained (urinating and defecating are self-reinforcing, so you don't want her getting that reinforcement in the house), and you can help that along by making it very clear that going outside is right (lots of praise), and making sure that she's always empty when she's inside.
posted by biscotti at 5:49 PM on October 5, 2004

we crated our puppy (a Parson Russell terrier, nine months now) progressively longer from about 2 hours to 9. We also made the crate an option for hanging out with us and always for sleeping. I now leave her during the day out in the kitchen and laundry room (the longest was for 12 hours -terrible, I know, I'm bad) with teh crate door open. I often find her sleeping in her crate when I come home and that is where she goes when teh surround sound gets too loud. Don't make the crate a punishment or a bad place to be - make it the dog's home/refuge/relaxation place. You do that and teh dog wants to go there and will never evacuate there (unless sick, but that's another matter). Crates are great and you should get on it right away.

There is also a book by some monks who train german shepards (trappists or something, I forget). Anyway, if you can get past the fact that they say one should never be away from your dog, they have some great suggestions.

Oh, and if the dog evacuates inside, do not yell, do not spank, do not be mad. It was your fault. It was your fault. Just praise extra special next time it evacuates outside.
posted by jmgorman at 7:47 PM on October 5, 2004

Also, I just read a good suggestion on what to do if your dog has peed in your home somewhere. After you've thoroughly cleaned the area and over the course of a couple of days, spend some time hanging out with your dog right in the area where the dog peed. Sit on the floor and read a book or something. Often dogs pee in the least used part of your home(guest bedroom, etc.) since their instinct is not to soil their den. So by spending time in the area they've peed, you will teach them it's part of their den too and they'll be less likely to go there again.
posted by lobakgo at 8:42 PM on October 5, 2004

There is also a book by some monks who train german shepards (trappists or something, I forget).

It's How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend by the Monks of New Skete. They have some great suggestions, and one of the things that stuck with me is the importance of your dog sleeping in your bedroom- it's important for the dog to be exposed to your scent for an extended period, it helps with bonding.
posted by ambrosia at 9:24 PM on October 5, 2004

The book that had the suggestion I mentioned above is, The Other End of the Leash, by Patricia McConnell. Good book.
posted by lobakgo at 9:37 PM on October 5, 2004

Also by the Monks of New Skete, The Art of Raising a Puppy. It really influenced the way I raised my dogs, and,iirc, has some good insight into crate training.
posted by kamikazegopher at 11:02 PM on October 5, 2004

Quick comment about the Monks. Make sure you get the newest editions of their books, the older ones contain some seriously bad advice which they have fully retracted in the newer ones (most importantly, the use of things like the "alpha roll", which is based on highly inaccurate ideas about dog-dog interaction, and which is not only extremely unhelpful for problem-solving, but can be actively harmful and downright dangerous). Also, while there is some very good advice in the Monks' books, they do tend to lean a bit toward punitive methods in some areas (they're changing slowly but surely, as the new books indicate, but they still have echoes of the whole "show 'em who's boss" old-school attitudes, which are becoming more and more outdated as people learn more about animal behaviour and learning), so I suggest you also add the Patricia McConnell book that lobakgo mentiones, to provide a bit of balance (McConnell is a zoologist (and professor of zoology) whose areas of specialization are animal-human relationships and dog behaviour and communication). Also, two books I would recommend to every dog owner are Don't Shoot The Dog by Karen Pryor, and The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson (there's a new edition on the way). These books completely changed the way I thought about dogs and dog training, they literally changed my life.
posted by biscotti at 9:59 AM on October 6, 2004

Yeah, I kept my dog in the crate for a while. We have a dog door and a fenced in yard, so he has the mud room and the back yard to roam in. Most days when I come home for lunch he is chilling in his crate in the mud room anyway. A buddy of mine has two black labs that he crates whenever he isn't home. And they are about 3-5 years old.
posted by trbrts at 11:28 AM on October 6, 2004

We trained my hound in the crate until she demonstrated that she could hold her need to pee or let us know. She's not slept in her crate for months now with no accidents and she can sleep right next to me too.

While we were away we had a corral for her but we've stopped using it as well. Now she can roam the house and backyard at will and seems to be pretty happy about it.

The crate was too small for her anyway. And I didn't really care for locking up my best friend all the time, kind of made it hard to establish trust. But that's me, I talk to my dog like she's a human.
posted by fenriq at 4:45 PM on October 6, 2004

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