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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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