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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Full disclosure, I've never been comfortable with crating. I don't believe for a moment that any living creature likes being in a cage. I also feel that it's too easily abused; I've seen people crating because they have multiple dogs and it's convenient to keep them crated when they don't feel like dealing with them, or they are at work for many hours including commute time and they crate the whole time. I've had two dogs as an adult and numerous under my parents' roof, and crating was never necessary as long as you kept their living area fairly clean/dog-proofed.

However. I have adopted a wonderful 16-week-old puppy with many delightful qualities, but she has clearly only been kenneled in her short life and has not the first clue about house living. Adding to that, this time around I'm not just a dog mama, I'm a mama to a human as well, so I'm less tolerant of 1:00am poo cleanup than I once was. I'm going to give her fair time to prove herself...maybe she'll housetrain quickly, and maybe leaving her for short periods of time will not translate to a destroyed home (I don't anticipate leaving her alone for more than a couple hours at a time). But, given that even in the most puppy-proofed room she will chew a wall corner right in front of me, I can only imagine what she will do when she's entirely alone. So...is it time to put a big ugly cage in my living room and crate her at night and when we're gone? Will it actually prevent her from defecating or will I wake up in the morning to a puppy who needs a bath? She's a sensitive, intelligent breed and I need to know that the benefits outweigh the negatives, which to my mind include losing access to me at night (not being able to come tell me she needs to go out) and losing her ability to patrol the house as she gets older. Can I phase out crate training once she's full grown and can be trusted regarding chewing/peeing?

Thanks!
 

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I am a fan of crating because it keeps the dog safe, as well as keeping your house from being destroyed. I agree that many people abuse it. They treat the crate as punishment or keep the dog in there far too long every day, day after day. That's not what crates are for. I see crates as a safe little den, and a playpen. It prevents my dogs from chewing walls, doors, ripping up carpet or rugs, getting into the trash, eating inedible objects, peeing or pooping on the floor, chewing electrical cords, getting into toxic chemicals, chewing on pens or markers or whatever else, etc etc. Crating prevents many behavior problems from developing like getting into trash, chewing inappropriate things, counter surfing, barking out the window constantly, and stereotyped or neurotic/obsessive behaviors. If I can't be paying attention to my dogs, they are crated. Even if I'm in the shower for 20 minutes, they are crated. You can absolutely fade this out though! For most dogs you won't always have to crate, but I strongly believe it is safest for puppies to be crated when nobody can be watching them. With my puppy, I stopped crating her at night at about 7-8 months old. With my rescue dog, we've had her 7 months and I don't trust her out of the crate yet because she eats socks and I just don't trust her unsupervised yet for extended periods of time. I'm at the point where I trust her for those 20 minute showers because she stays on the bed and I can see her from the shower. I'm paranoid like that, because with her sock eating habit she could die if one causes an obstruction in her gut. With both of them, they are crated when nobody is in the house. I don't want them forming bad habits or getting hurt.

I keep the crate in my bedroom, right next to the bed. For puppies, the idea is to give them a crate big enough that they can comfortably stand up, lay down, and turn around, but not so big that they have a corner to potty in without then having to lay in it. Dogs don't like to lay in their own filth. The vast majority of puppies will whine when they need to be let out to potty because they don't want to potty where they sleep. A 4 month old puppy should be able to hold her bladder for 5 hours. You may want to pick up the water bowl a couple hours before she goes to bed. *Always* take her outside to potty right before crating her, and *immediately* after letting her out of the crate, take her outside again. Even if it was only 15 minutes in the crate. It creates a good routine. If the crate will be somewhere you can't hear her whining to go out, set an alarm if needed so you can take her outside regularly. The basic guideline is that puppies can hold their bladder for however many months old they are, plus one, with an absolute maximum of 7-8 hours for most dogs (maybe longer at night).

You also want to introduce the crate in a very positive manner. Maybe feed her in the crate. You can teach her a command to go in the crate, and training her to go in makes the crate a very positive place as she gets lots of treats so associates the crate with good things. The crate is NEVER punishment. Every time she goes into the crate, give the command (I say "go crate"). To start, you can have a trail of treats leading into the back of the crate. When she is in the crate praise her. Let her go in and out several times without shutting the door or blocking her in. You can also play fetch, tossing a toy into the crate to have her chase it. You don't want her to learn right away that going in the crate means she's stuck in there. That's not positive. Once she happily goes in and out, only then should you close the door. Lure her in with a treat, then shut the door. Immediately open it and give her a treat and then let her back out. Do this several times. Then start increasing the amount of time the crate door is closed. Increase by only a second or two at a time, repeating several times before extending the duration. Also, you should not do this all in one sitting. Work on it for 5 minutes then go do something else or play. You can do several sessions in a day, but don't do it for more than 5-10 minutes at a time. Once she is ok with the crate door being closed for about 30 seconds, lure her in, close the door and stand up and take a step away. Step right back to the crate and open it and give her a treat and let her out. Work on gradually increasing the distance you go from her, so eventually you walk out of the room or around a corner where she can't see you. What she'll learn is that even when you go out of sight, you're still coming back eventually to give her a treat.
 

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A crate can be a comforting thing for a dog, much like a den. My rescued adult, Maddie, is currently resting in hers right now, with the door open! We feed her in her crate, keep nice toys/chew bones in there, and a comfortable bed (although with a puppy, I'd take out the bed - it will get peed/pooped/chewed on). She gets plenty of outside-the-crate time, but she likes it in there when resting. Crating makes housetraining go much faster, as dogs normally like to keep their living space clean (make sure the crate is small enough, so they can't pee/poop on one end and sleep on the other; many crates come with a divider to be able to adjust the size).
 

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Well craters can/will do little to convince you, the pup's actions at home program will do whatever convincing is needed. There are many owers who have stated that their dogs never needed crating and then the other side chimes in with many things in home destroyed by young pups.

One last thought to think about are emergencies where pup is at vet or other places that crating might be necessary. It's just a tool to use when needed no more, no less.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, particularly to Sibe for the detailed instructions. I like the idea of being able to use it in a limited fashion and then phase it out as she matures. My adult dogs would never have needed such a thing (and had no problem with boarding or vet situations where they had to be caged for periods of time), but the puppy years required diligent puppy-proofing and supervision. I'm sure this pup could also get through its youth without being caged, but...my circumstances are different now. I can guarantee I don't leave socks accessible to the dog, but I can't guarantee my 4-year-old or her babysitter won't be careless one day.
 

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She is more likely to housetrain quickly if her options are limited when she's not supervised. My dogs actually hang out in crates with doors open. As to whether or not you wake up to a mess? That's likely up to you. Don't leave her in crate longer than she can reasonably be expected to hold it. At 16 weeks, that would be 5 hours, max. BTW, crates that are not too big and roomy are best for housetraining. Otherwise dog can eliminate and go hang out at the other end of the crate. An alternative would be an xpen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
As to whether or not you wake up to a mess? That's likely up to you. Don't leave her in crate longer than she can reasonably be expected to hold it. At 16 weeks, that would be 5 hours, max.
Well, I got up just after midnight, took her outside for awhile, and nothing happened...but by 1:00am, I had mess all over the place (and I was awake and in the next room, she just doesn't know enough to come to me when she needs to go out) so I don't think I can actually guarantee she wouldn't end up with an in-crate mess too...unless she figures out to whine and let me know. I did like the suggestion to keep the crate in the bedroom; I have dark shades in there anyway, so it might also be useful for those brief periods when the sitter takes my daughter out.
 

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All of my dogs are used to a crate to some degree or another. Some were crate trained as pups, the sled dogs get transported to and from races/training trails in crates secured in the back of my van, I sometimes use a crate for certain dogs in the tent while camping or in a motel/relative's house while visiting. I usually have a crate or two in the house and sometimes my dogs will go and lay in them of their own free will to have some peace and quiet.
They see the crate as a good thing because something good always comes of being in the crate. If I have to leave a dog inside for whatever reason while I'm gone, they will go in a crate and when I get back, it's pay time! The sled dogs know that when they get in a crate, it's time to RUN and if I so much as open the back of the van with a crate near by, they go nuts.

I taught my dogs that basically going in a crate was nap/rest time. Before I would put them in a crate I would tire them out a bit (playing fetch, going for a walk, whatever). Then they would go in their crate and crash on the blankets. When I got back, it would be play time again to burn off some of the "OMG, YOU'RE HOME!" energy.
Sometimes, after we got back from a long hike, I would put whatever dogs I took with me in crates so they could sleep while I took a shower and unpacked our backpacks. That way, they didn't think every time they got in a crate, I was leaving them.

I rarely use crates inside anymore as my dogs prefer to laze around in the sun outside in their pen while I'm gone (unless it's frigid cold and the weather is nasty). I mainly used them for new dogs before I could trust them to be unattended in the house or outside while I was gone.

You also want to introduce the crate in a very positive manner. Maybe feed her in the crate. You can teach her a command to go in the crate, and training her to go in makes the crate a very positive place as she gets lots of treats so associates the crate with good things. The crate is NEVER punishment. Every time she goes into the crate, give the command (I say "go crate"). To start, you can have a trail of treats leading into the back of the crate. When she is in the crate praise her. Let her go in and out several times without shutting the door or blocking her in. You can also play fetch, tossing a toy into the crate to have her chase it. You don't want her to learn right away that going in the crate means she's stuck in there. That's not positive. Once she happily goes in and out, only then should you close the door. Lure her in with a treat, then shut the door. Immediately open it and give her a treat and then let her back out. Do this several times. Then start increasing the amount of time the crate door is closed. Increase by only a second or two at a time, repeating several times before extending the duration. Also, you should not do this all in one sitting. Work on it for 5 minutes then go do something else or play. You can do several sessions in a day, but don't do it for more than 5-10 minutes at a time. Once she is ok with the crate door being closed for about 30 seconds, lure her in, close the door and stand up and take a step away. Step right back to the crate and open it and give her a treat and let her out. Work on gradually increasing the distance you go from her, so eventually you walk out of the room or around a corner where she can't see you. What she'll learn is that even when you go out of sight, you're still coming back eventually to give her a treat.
Ditto!


I also have a peace of kind knowing that if my dogs have to be crated for whatever reason (emergency vet visit etc) they'll be used to it. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Sled dogs! Fascinating! Well, I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I think you all have convinced me...and believe me, only last week I passed the cages at the pet store and shuddered at the idea of putting any but the most neurotic dog in one. Sheesh, next thing you know I'll be advocating the Cry It Out method for infants instead of cosleeping!

But, the situation does seem to be ideal for it. The pup was raised in a kennel instead of in the house, so it's entirely possible that she *will* perceive the crate as a comfort and a respite from all those strange household sounds. I find her to be skittish compared to the pups I've had that were house-raised, and though I can see crate training as being a bit challenging in the sense that I already have to lure her with treats to get her to go through the door to come in or outside, it might be the familiar feeling place she needs. She may also appreciate having a special place to get away from the 4-year-old. And, to be honest, the chewing and housetraining phase can be done without a crate but it is far from easy, and back then I had the time and money to focus entirely on these challenges (and didn't have anyone else around who might undermine my efforts). I probably could have saved myself a lot of headaches. I still need to think of it as a temporary training tool, though; I really hope I can phase it out once she's matured past this stage.

Do you think a 42" is the right size for a collie? http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000OX64P8/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER
 

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Shippo loves his crate. It's his safe haven. When he's sleepy late at night, he goes inside it himself and puts himself to bed. When he's scared he goes and hides in it. He gets fed in it, and gets his most special treats in it. When he has to go to the vet for anything and be kenneled, the staff comment to me about how he's one of the only dogs who doesn't freak out in the kennel, that he's totally comfortable and quiet, unlike most of the other dogs who are going through a lot of stress just by having to be kenneled - I am connecting that with his crate training. He's never punished by being put in there, and I don't abuse the crate by just leaving him in it all day long. He potty trained and house trained a lot quicker than my other dog, Eevee, who I got when I was still a kid, and my dad would not allow me to crate train her. It may not be for everyone, but it's a great tool for training when used right.

It's cool that you want to try it, and I hope your crate training experience goes as well for you as it did for me. =)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks! Well, it's worth a shot. If she absolutely hates it then at least I gave it a go. It's hard to see an animal in a cage, but if I find she seems to enjoy it that will help a lot.
 

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I'll just throw my two cents in on the crate training helps potty train quicker subject.

My chihuahua was confined to the bathroom as a puppy while I was at school and my mother was at work. He had food and water, a warm bed, toys and puppy pads. He trained very easily and quickly and is very well house trained now. However, he did eat our wall paper.

On another hand, my sister's "puggle" was crate trained, took formal training, was even taught to use the door bells. She still does her business inside and is about 4 years old. They've had to replace their new carpet because of it. She has no medical issues.

In my opinion, it won't help them potty train any faster. However, if used properly, it's good tool. Keeps your dog out of trouble when unsupervised, will keep the dog/people safe when visitors are over, and other such things.
 

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my current dog tends to be startled out of sleep by children getting up to go to the bathroom, charging them until she recognizes them, hence she is crated at night. She also likes her crate.
 

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Our means of dog confinement range from a crate, to an expen, to two baby gates. Overnight he's in his crate. I like having him crate trained because he needs to be crated in the car, if he ever had to be boarded or stay overnight at the vet, etc... It's a safe, small, quiet place that he's comfortable in. However, I don't want him crated the ENTIRE time we can't supervise him because my husband and I work full time jobs, so when we're at work, he's in an expen. In fact, he started with the crate in the expen, then we kept making it smaller, then transitioned him to just the crate, and have the expen just for day time. Then starts the baby gates -- there's one keeping him JUST in the family room, which we can swing in the other direction and put up the second baby gate and he's confined to the family room and kitchen. He only has (supervised) free run of downstairs a little bit every day, and only after he's just gone potty outside. If he is going to be unsupervised for more than a couple minutes (like running downstairs to change over the laundry, or running upstairs to grab something), he gets put in his expen.

Our pup is 5 months old now and has been doing great with housetraining. He just started consistently asking to go out about two weeks ago, and can hold it overnight in his crate with no accidents. I still feel a little weird by having an animal in a cage (even part time) because I've always had cats, but it keeps him safe, and keeps my house from getting destroyed when we can't watch him!
 

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My boxer Remy loves his crate. He goes in it to nap even while I am sitting in the same room. I have never used it as a consequence/punishment so it has no negative conotation for him. Sometimes I leave him out when I leave and every time he is lying in the open crate when I get home. This is just my personal experience but Remy does consider it his comfy place. He has a great bed in there and its covered with a blanket to make it extra cozy.
 

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I agree that crating is too often abused! (I personally do not think you can humanely potty train a puppy if someone is not home with it most of the day.)

Crates can make a dog feel secure and most dogs love them. Sadly, some dogs have been stuck in them so much that that is all they know to do, while a few have only know a crate as a bad thing used for punishment or vet/grooming time. ( sad, sad, sad )

I would never intentionally leave my dog in a crate for more than 4 hours at a time. For a puppy (or old dog) 2 hours. (That said, I have been caught in traffic a couple of times that delayed me 30-45 mins. ) I think puppies should not be asked to hold it for very long... and only asks for failure.

I am in a rush out the door and did not read the whole thread. (I did read part of Sibes reply- great advise.)

This is just some very random thoughts based on my experience.

A healthy dog will not soil a proper size crate if you give it proper out time opportunities.

When the puppy is out, don't expect it to come and tell you it needs to go. Stop what you are doing as often as you can and take it outside.

When the dog has is actually going potty, say a clue word, (such as potty) do NOT say this when you WANT it to go, ( That comes later) only when it is actually going. Use the key work and use praise. Add a treat when the pup has finished. ( My shih-Tzu could care less until we introduced food into the equation- lol )

When home, keep the puppy in the cage when you can't be watching it. This should not be a lot of the time!

When you take it out, if it doesn't go fine, no big deal. Use praise and the clue word when it does go.

Don't get a sleeping crate that is too large. Rookie mistake. It is not a play area, it is a bed large enough to stand, turn and stretch out in.

Be sure to feed the puppy at least 45 minutes before bedtime, no sooner. ( I don't recommend withholding water, especially if it is a small breed puppy.) Really try hard not crate at night till pee-pee has been accomplished. Always take the puppy out the moment you wake up. Yes, before you go to the bathroom. (That will help you understand the need to go right away lol)

Take the puppy to the exact same spot each time you want it to pee. If it smells the scent from the time before, it will help it to go.

NEVER put a dogs nose in the mess. If you actually catch him in the act of going someplace he shouldn't' say a firm no, then take him outside. Do not harp, do not say anything negative outside. Don't say anything outside unless he goes. He probably wont, so just bring him back in. No treat, no clue work, no praise OR harsh words.

In a few days, some people (myself included) like to use a pen area for the day time instead of a crate. The crate is for sleeping and the pen is to confine during the day in the room with me. I Put food and water in the pen area. You must take the dog out of the pen often in order for this to work. The pen is just a safe way to contain the dog loose in the house, without letting it get into wires or other dangers. You can increase the pen size over time if potty training goes well.

Don't freak if you get an accident in the pen. Many times this may never happen, but if it does it is still ok. Just clean up and go about your normal routine. Do not scold the dog! (Only say "no" if you catch him going potty in the pen area, and take him outside.)

Darn, I have to stop because I have to leave.

BTW On of my dogs is an "eater of bad objects" so I have to use a crate when a family member is not home, and baby gates when we are home. When we leave the house, I open the baby gate from the den and they rush to the bedroom cages to see who gets to theirs first. First dog there gets their treat first. lol The crates reflect safety to them and they always get a special treat. We NEVER use the crate as time out or punishment and never for extended periods of time.

Good luck! I have never met a healthy dog that could not be potty trained. Punishment may seem to work to some people but in truth the dog is learning INSPITE of the punishment. The dog would have learned much faster with out the punishment and often is the reason some people never can train their dog!
 

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I don't see any reason to try to convince someone who doesn't like crates. People have been raising puppies without crates for centuries. They are a nice training tool, they can be used for housetraining and impulse control training, as well as teaching a solid release word and recalls. But they are not an absolute must.

I think it's a bit silly to dislike crates "just because", or because you've (general you) never used one before. If you're going to choose between crating or not crating, at least look into the pros and cons of both, and then decide what works for you.

I know some people dislike crates because you're taking all choice and freedom away from the dog and it's not natural, and others argue that a well-bred, confident, stable dog should have no need for its own den where it feels safe.

I personally think I used the crate to the exclusion of other things that I should have been doing with my puppy, but it hasn't harmed him. It's just caused some minor issues that now have to be corrected rather than prevented in the first place. I will always use a crate, for the reasons stated above, it's a valuable training tool.
 

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I'm a little paranoid about pooping/peeing in the house. My Bichon that is. Softer reading a lot of stuff here I bought one of the small plastic carriers before I even got him. I've since got a 18X24 wire crate with the lambs wool pad. The first few weeks he went out minimum 3times a nite. He's 4 mos old now and has never soiled his crate. I partitioned both off to limit his space. Now he has the full space to use. Now he goes out before bed, usually around 10:30-11 pm. I'm up usually by 7am and he goes out after I go---in. He always does #1 and some #2. Doesn't always eat just drinks some at that time. Around 9:30 back out and goes again more this time. I take him out every 2-3 hours. He will still pee inside if he goes to long. Poo also. He hasn't quite got it yet. He's smart and catches on quickly to what I try to teach him but he's been much slower to get the going out to potty thing than my mini Dal did. He doesn't mind his crate at all though I did make the mistake of luring him in at first and closing him in. If he's wired up and I have to put him in he does whine about that.
 

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I have crate trained all 4 of mine and they love it. Faith has to be in a crate or confined because she will chew anything and everything- right now shes in the kitchen rather than crate. I am slowly trying to get 3 of the 4 away from the crate. We tried Hope the other night and she did great all night without a mess. Next well try Elvin and see how he does, then 2 out, etc.
 
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