Crate Training Method of Housetraining


Crate training limits a puppy’s options and sets the stage for training that uses positive reinforcement.  Puppies need to relieve themselves after they wake up, eat or drink, or after a period of play.  Set up a schedule to accommodate his needs—puppies can’t go very long without eating, drinking, sleeping of relieving themselves.

When you’re house training a puppy, you need to regulate both food and water.  That’s because if your puppy is eating and drinking constantly, he’s going to need to relieve himself constantly, and that makes house training very difficult.  For the first coup of months, a puppy needs to eat three times a day—before you go to work, at lunch, and as soon as you come home in the evening.  By the time the puppy is four months old, he should be nearly house trained and you can switch to two meals a day and an always available supply of water.

If at all possible, come home or enlist a neighbor or pet-sitter’s help at lunch time during the first couple of months.  Your puppy’s social development will survive without a midday break—assuming you adopt an ideal schedule on the weekends and make up for the lost opportunities for socialization.  He will not make it through the day without relieving himself, however and that will set your training back.

If you must leave your puppy alone all day, you will expect to find a mess when you get home.  I recommend lining the crate with newspapers rather than bedding until you can trust that the puppy can hold it for extended periods of time.

How long can a puppy stay in a crate?  A good rule of thumb is the same number of hours as his age in months.  So a two month old puppy can be confined for two hours, a three month old puppy for three hours, and so on.  No matter how old your puppy, I don’t recommend crating him for more than 9 hours at a stretch.

Here’s an idea of what your puppy’s ideal schedule should look like:

First thing in the morning:  Take your puppy out of the crate and coax him to follow you outside to the spot you have chosen for him to relieve himself.  If he starts to relieve himself on the trip outside, give him a firm “no” and take him to the potty zone in your yard.  Give the command you have chosen, such as “go potty” or something similar and praise and give him a small treat when he does a good job.  Take him inside and give him food and water, and then go back outside about 20-30 minutes after he has eaten.  A full tummy puts pressure on his bladder and bowels, so he will be ready to go again.  Reward him each time he does a good job.

If you are going to work, put him in the crate.  If you are not going to work, let him play for a couple of hours, but keep him close to you so that you can watch for signs that he needs to go out.  After an hour or two, take him outside again, repeat the command and repeat the reward when he does a good job.  He will be read for a nap, so put him in his crate until lunchtime.

The midday bread:  Take your puppy out of the crate and head outside for another round of command, relieve and praise/reward for a job well done.  Then back inside for food and water.  Then back outside.  If you are home on your lunch break and have time, play with him a little before you put him back in his crate.  If you are going to be home with him., leave him out to play….again keeping him close so that you can watch for signs he needs to go out.  He can then be crated for his afternoon nap.

Dinner time: Same as at midday…take him out, feed him, take him out and then let him play.  Offer him a little water a couple of  hours before bedtime, but no more food.

Bedtime:  One last trip outside.