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Ok, I have a question. My puppy loves the crate - and doesn't mind having the door closed. Do I keep him in the crate all the time until he whines to pee if I am crate training him? I have read online to only leave him in for intervals.

I don't really understand the ups and downs of crate training - so if anyone can explain the details of crate training (down to the dumbest things) please be my guest.

Thanks
 

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To begin with, the crate is just a safe, secure location for the puppy to sleep/relax or go to when you can't watch him. A place where he can't get into trouble/destroy things. That's the primary purpose of a crate but, an X-pen or any other confined area that is safe will work.
The 'added benefit' of a crate, or other very small area, is that dogs don't like to soil themselves or their sleeping area.
Here's the tricky part: if the puppy is in the crate AND AWAKE...he needs to go out every hour for potty. If he's sleeping, he can go longer without having to go potty (body functions slow down during sleep). Some folks take the pup out every hour no matter what to prevent accidents.
Personally, I would not wait for the puppy to let you know. That 'letting you know' usually comes later in the potty training once the puppy understands the housetraining.
 

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I have been training my 2nd dog in my adult life--we didn't crate train when I had the first. I started to not crate train this one (a bichon), but needed to change something and read and heard enough to see the benefits of crate training--for structure, expectation. Mine is now 20 months old and I still crate her. She actually knows my morning routine and will head to her crate on the days I get ready for work--waiting! I do have her use her crate, she knows the words, "go to your crate," when she needs a time out from chasing the cat. She actually has had some accidents in her crate--which is unusual--so with testing, I know she has a physical problem. The crate has also been a familiar and easy place to have her take a rest during family dinners, at other people's homes, etc. She still needs more training--but she knows her crate is a safe and comfortable place.
Based on what you said, I think that the puppy phase is also a key time for socialization, encountering a lot of activity in the house, noises, things dropping, people walking, etc. I'd caution from too much time in the crate. One thing I learned that worked pretty well was that 30 min after she ate, or played and drank a lot, I took her outside to pee. If after a few moments of directed effort at having her pee (routine place, routine key words "go potty", etc), and NOT having success, then I'd take her in and put her in the crate until she asked to go, or I took her again. In other words--a successful pee earns freedom for awhile! Good luck!
 
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