Although crate training is the fastest and most effective way to train your puppy to go outside it is also very important to crate train for a number of other reasons. Your puppy needs a place to sleep and be safe and not confused, lonely and scared. Your puppy also needs to be comfortable in his crate because sometimes you just have to. People coming in and out of house. Going in the car, staying in hotels, napping and getting away from the kids. Company who is allergic or does not like dogs. Ill and needs to rest. Remember a new puppy can not be left unsupervised so you need to keep him safe when you are not right there. Some people feel putting their puppy in a crate is cruel but I can assure you that I, and ever breeder I know have crate trained dogs that run to their crates. Some even have a favorite and will fight over going in their crates. Crate training also teaches confidence, independence and stops separation anxiety. Your puppy needs to be happy alone and content and feeling safe.
The following is a collection from what I know, and what I have read and what I have taken in training classes. There will be some differing opinions, as there is with all training, but for the most part this is tried and true and pretty consistent with just about all crate training methods. If you have any suggestions, or things that have really worked for you, I would love to incorporate them. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
How to Start
Like all training it has to be fun and it has to have a reward. The crate becomes a fun place to go. I never time out my dogs in a crate, I start with leaving the door open or taking it off. I then throw treats in the crate, everytime the pup goes in the crate they get a treat. I use the word crate up every time I put the treat in the crate. If you pup loves toys throw the toy. They will learn quickly what crate up means and go in the crate.
Next when the pup is tired and 1/2 asleep I put them in their crate.
Every pup is different so you will have to determine when your think your pup is comfortable in the crate and goes in on command. You should start to see the pup going in on his own at times.
I then close the door and stay in the room but ignore the pup and don’t make eye contact. Again treat when he goes in. Never take him out if he is barking or whining. Wait for a quiet period and then take him out. Honestly you have to ignore barking even if it is loud and goes on too long, suck it up. Taking crying pups out of the crate or their pen when they are telling you I want out teaches them very very well that is how they get out. Your pup is not hurt it just wants out. Ignore it. If you don’t this is a very hard habit to break. If you ignore the behaviour eventually the pup learns barking does nothing and they do stop. Sometimes this takes a few days, sometimes it can take a week. If you live in an apartment let your neighbours know you are training you pup to be able to be content alone. Giving into behaviour that is not what you want is also a cause of separation anxiety.
At this point you are only crating for 3 to 5 minutes. Build up and then start leaving the room.
This is critical again we don’t want to reward the wrong behaviours. When you take your pup out, ignore them for a few minutes. What you don’t want to do is have your pup associate that coming out of the crate is a celebration, it should just be a non event. Let the pup out and take to potty.
Dogs do not like to poop or pee in their den but if the crate is too large they will. To them they have a dry sleeping area and a bathroom, You will go through two crates. The puppy crate should just be big enough for your puppy to turn around in. If you use wire make sure that your pup is big enough not to get its feet stuck between slates. For puppies I generally use the plastic crates. Some puppies do better with a blanket over the crate, some it makes no difference.
Do not let your puppy poop in his crate, if he does it is because you left him too long and he had too. If this happens once or twice it is generally OK but if happens too often they will continue to potty in their crates.
If you think your puppy is making a fuss because he has to potty take him out, do not make eye contact or give any greeting, take him out give him the potty command and then put him back in his crate until he is quiet. Again don’t reinforce that any whining is a reward.
At 4 to 6 months you will need the permanent crate. Plastic or Wire, choice is yours. I have a preference for wire, they are cooler and they do not give off any petroleum fumes. Plastic kennels in the summer are very very hot. Wire are more expensive so I generally use plastic for my puppy stage and then move to wire. You can go crazy with crates there are some that look like furniture, there are some beautiful metal and wood – everything for any budget. This one below is an inexpensive plastic kennel and fold down wire crate. It collapses for easy storage and travel. If you use a wire crate drape a blanket or towel over three sides to give you puppy security and privacy. Cloth crates do not tend to work well on puppies – when they are teething they chew or scratch through them.
A great addition to your crate:
Sometimes you have to go out and you don’t want to leave your puppy crated for too long. That is when an exercise pen is a life saver. I do not put food and water in the crate, because you want to supervise intake when you are potty training. Food and water go in your exercise pen and are given when the puppy is out of the crate. Later, once your puppy is trained, you can certainly put a water bottle on the crate door for him, and of course if you are crating your puppy and it is warm you can add a water bottle and/or a crate fan.
An X-pen can be purchased from just about any pet store – look for sales. You will want a hire quality if you plan to use your pen outside. Havanese can jump, I use a 2 or 4 ft foot X-pen – I can still reach in but the majority of Havanese will not jump over.
You may think this is an expense you don’t need but it is worth its weight in cold. You are still keeping space small, you are keeping puppy safe and you will use the xpen if camping or visiting or just sitting outside.
First Night Home and every night after
For some reason putting your puppy in a crate at night is an easy process. Some puppies can go through the night at 10 weeks, others 12 weeks, you are going to make the process smoother by picking up water at 8:00 pm. No water or food after 8:00. Potty the puppy before bed and by now you should have a rough idea of your puppies potty schedule – does he poop twice after his dinner feed or usually just once – keep track it will assist your success. He must go potty before you crate him for the night. Once he is crated he does not come out unless he is crying and making a fuss and it has been 4 hours for a 9 week old Havanese. If you pottied him and it has been less than 4 hours it is for attention and comfort not for potty issues. Of course this is a guideline you will get to know your puppies cries, and be able to tell the difference between a pick me up, I’m lonely and a I really really have to go out now cry. After 12 weeks puppy should be sleeping through the night, without a potty break. When you take the puppy out for potty be careful that you and he both know it is for potty not for play. I say absolutely nothing to the puppy except for my “Go Potty” command and my “Good Potty” command and treat on success. Do not, DO NOT, play with the puppy – you will turn a 5 minute exercise into a 20 minute exercise. The first couple of times the puppy will likely not settle down immediately after his potty – you will just have to ignore the puppy and wait out the whining, so please make sure you gave the puppy enough time to both pee and poo, otherwise you will either be up again, or cleaning up a mess in your crate.. Ear plugs are a great investment. We will tell you all about first nights to make this an easy and painless process. I have taken puppies that have just left their mom and litter mates and had them in a hotel with very little fuss. There are tips you need to follow though. Some owners do not do this, they are in love with this adorable little puppy and can’t put it in a crate. I’ve had owners call us up and state they are sleeping on the living floor because they puppy is upset, I’ve had some say they have not slept for two weeks. We ask did you do what we told you to do, they say no and we very kindly say, you have to, you are letting your puppy set the rules and you can’t live like that. I have never had a puppy go more than 2 nights before they get it, and generally just one.
Recall or Come
Teaching your dog to come on command is a very important command and one that can be life saving. Also great for off leash areas when you want to go home and your dog does not it is frustrating.
Remember Hav’s may love you to death but they are also very smart and they also love to play. They will test you so if you want them to do something for you consistently, find the what’s in it for them.
OK very important you need a recall word that is NOT their name. When you want your dog to come it always needs to be associated with something positive. It can never be negative or corrective. So if your dog is running across a busy street because he slipped his lead and you call FLUFFY you are likely going to yell it and say it in a very excited panicky tone. Your dog will not be sure of what the outcome is if he comes. I use the word cooking for my recall and I always make sure the command and correct behaviour have a positive outcome. I learns a long time ago when I go and pick up my dog to come inside and then promptly put him in his crate he learns its better to stay out a bit longer. Always make the outcome a reward and positive. It is very hard to say cooking in a harsh tone. Practice and reward just like the name game and Fluffy will learn it quickly. If Fluffy also learns that when she comes she not only gets a cookie but a big belly rub or a walk with you or some ball throwing. This is all positive reinforcement never a touch of negative or discipline. If your dog does not come it could be because it is scared to cross the street, or there is a very appealing squill in the field. Yelling and getting angry will not help, try another command like sit or stay. Saying sit in a firm voice while you go and retrieve him often works. I have farm dogs, they are guardian dogs and when I call them to come in they sometimes do require 2 or 3 calls and my voice may drop into the training zone on the third call. Sometimes they don’t hear me, sometimes they are far away and sometimes they have not completed their job of a perimeter guard around the property. They still get rewarded when they come. Again think like a dog. Your dog won’t come because you are asking him to, he will come because when he does your are pleased and give him a pleasant experience. I’ve known some potty training to fail or be frustrating, one error people make is taking their dog to potty and the minute they do they go back in the house. They love to play, sniff walk and you have just made the association that potty means that’s the end of outdoor play. I always make sure I play and romp with my dogs after potty. It does two things, once you potty you get to play and it breaks the connection of pottying be a let down. Very similar to anxiety and car sickness which can happen if your dog is only in the car for boarding, vet, or to sit and wait for you alone. Make sure you start right away with short trips that are all about fun.