Almost daily, I meet people who do not want to crate their new puppy.
Most think it is cruel to lock up a young animal. Well, let's see how the dog sees its crate, if you introduce it in the manner it should be done.
First, know that young puppies by nature would live in a den. The den means security, because this is where the litter is together and where mom will come and feed the pups, keep them warm and make sure they are protected. This said, it is not a problem for a young puppy to be in a small, cozy place.
When your new puppy comes home, the crate should already be set up in a quiet corner or under a counter not far from the family. The crate door should be open and it always helps to have a tasty treat inside. Take the time to introduce pup and crate in a gentle manner. Sit down beside the crate and let the pup check it out. He/she will probably walk into the crate to get the treat. Once inside let the pup know what a nice dog he is and what a nice crate he has. Talk to your dog. Say things such as, "nice crate," "good dog," etc.
Do not shut the door. At this moment, leave the crate open and play with your pup, throw a toy into the crate and tell your dog "load up" when he enters the crate.
From now on always say, "load up" when you want the dog to go into the kennel.
I feed my dogs in a kennel because I found that most dogs like their kennels better when they associate nice things such as food, toys and good stuff with the crate.
It will speed up housebreaking if your dog eats in the kennel.
As with much in life, you will hear different opinions on dog feeding in the kennel. To me it is as though one day we are allowed to eat butter and the next we are not.
When done playing with the dog in front, inside and around the crate, leave the crate alone for a while. When you feel the dog is going to have a nap soon, return to the crate and gently place the him/her in the crate with a toy.
Now would be a good time to close the crate and cover it with a towel. Talk calmly to your dog and reassure the dog that it is good to have such a nice crate.
In the beginning, leave the pup for short periods of time in the crate. If the pup whines and whimpers, pay no attention. Given that you walked, fed and exercised him/her, do not open the crate when the dog is whining.
If you open the crate when the dog cries, you get trained to come and open the crate when he/she whines. In time, the dog will understand that you always return and that the crate is not so bad after all. The crate is the safest place if you can't watch your dog.
As a toddler has to go in a playpen sometimes during the day, your dog has to be in a crate for its own safety.
Please do not leave your pup for endless hours in the crate. Make sure to provide enough exercise and love, and your pup will have no problem going into its crate, even by itself, after a while.
Enjoy your new pup.
Birgit Edler is the owner of Canine College in Juno Beach, which offers grooming, training and day care services for dogs and cats. Call (561) 626-0552 or e-mail Caninecollegefl@yahoo.com.