Properly done, crate training can be an important tool for housebreaking. In addition, it can also make the dog a better and happier companion. Since dogs are den animals, a crate can become a comfortable, safe den for the dog. Some dogs will seek out den-like areas under desks and behind furniture when a crate is not available. A crate can help with housebreaking, re-ranking, separation anxiety, barking, and increased management within the house. A dog who can be crated is also easier to travel with and easier to confine in the event of illness or injury.
For most situations, a molded plastic crate is best. This crate is more enclosed than a wire crate which makes it more like a den for the dog. Make sure that the crate is the correct size for the dog. It should be one and a half times longer than the dog’s body (not counting the tail) and tall enough for him to stand up in comfortably. The crate should be placed in a quiet but well-trafficked part of the house – not right next to the front door and not in the basement. If the dog is housebroken and has been trained not to chew on fabric, bedding can be placed in the crate. A chew toy or two should also be in the crate.
While the crate is an excellent tool, it should never be used as punishment. Puppies usually should not be crated longer than the number of months old they are plus one. This means that a two-month-old puppy should not be crated more than three hours, even in the best situations where he has been properly exercised, has eliminated and has plenty of chew toys.
To get your new companion accustomed to a crate take a day or so to place treats and toys in the crate and just allow him to enter the crate to get them. You may also set his food bowl at the back of the crate and allow him to eat in the crate with the door open. After a few days, your new companion should be given a lot of exercise late in the evening so he is really tired. His last meal and water should be provided three to four hours prior to bedtime and he should be given a wonderful new chew toy.
When you are ready to go to bed and the house will be dark and quiet, the tired puppy should be given his last chance to eliminate. Then take him to the crate, place him in it, give him the new chew toy, turn out the lights and go to bed. The puppy should not be let out of the crate if he’s just complaining about being in the crate. That will teach him that if he barks and cries enough, you will eventually let him out. The puppy’s fussing and complaining should be ignored if he truly doesn’t need to eliminate. For most puppies, ignoring them works better because just having you come over to them to do anything (like saying No!) is rewarding to them!
If the puppy has been properly prepared to be in the crate, then he should be so tired with a nice chew toy and an empty bladder that he will just fall asleep. Remember that he should not be put to bed in the crate if the rest of the household is still up.