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 Crate Training
The purpose of crating a young dog or pup is to keep him safe while you cannot directly supervise him and to teach him to control his bladder and bowels. This is best done in a confined area and we've found that the crate is perfect for this. Be sure the area is not larger than 2x the length of your dog's body and that it's just tall enough for him to stand up. He will need to be in the crate long enough to have to go. Because he's in a small space he won't want to mess up his "den" so he will wait. You can put an old towel or blanket in with him and a chew toy to keep him occupied. If you have a wire crate, it's best to remove any collars that have tags as they can get caught in the bars of the crate.

Have the crate in your view or in an area where the family members are. If he fusses too much you may have to move him to another room until he quiets down. Don't reward barking in the crate with attention as that will reinforce the barking. When he stops barking, then go see how he's doing and give him a treat or some reassurance. For a 3 month old pup you should have him in the crate at least an hour but not more than 3 hours at a time, if possible.

As soon as you get him out of the crate, take him outside to a selected area. Don't take him for a walk as all the smells will be too distracting, but just stay in one spot and let him pace in an area 5 to 10 feet. The pacing will get things moving and once he's smelled all the smells in that area he'll most likely go. When he goes, praise him or if you're using a clicker, click at the end of the bowel movement and then give him a really juicy treat.

After he goes and he's back in side you can play with him or let him play alone in a confined area no larger than a bathroom or mudroom, for about 20-30 minutes. Then put him back in the crate so he can build up enough time to have to go again. Let him have water as this will speed the process. If he whines and paces, that may be a good indicator that it's time. As you crate your dog longer and longer you will learn how long he can hold it, but also it will strengthen his bladder so that he can hold it longer. Remember, no longer than a 3 or 4 hour stretch for young pup. You want to set him up for success, so don't wait too long.

If you take him outside and he doesn't go after about 3 or 4 minutes, then take him back in and put him right into the crate. Then take him out in one hour intervals. Each time he doesn't go, he goes back into the crate. This is not punishment, but you'll need to confine him until he learns to hold it and only "go" outside. By letting him have a playtime after each urination or bowel movement he will also get the message that there are rewards for going outside. Each time he has a success let him play in the confined area a longer period of time. You may find that in just a few days time he will be holding it longer and longer and when you take him out he will do his business sooner and sooner as he gets the message about what's expected. Remember not to play with him when you go out, but let him be bored enough to do his business.

If he has accidents inside, don't scold him. He won't understand but even worse he may associate going to the bathroom in front of you as a bad thing and that could lead to problems with getting him to go while on leash (because he won't want to get punished). If he's having accidents, then he needs less free play time and more crate time until you get him back on a schedule.

Crating At Night
It's crucial that your new pup be crated at night and preferably NOT have the crate in your bedroom. Take him outside just before bedtime and then put him in his crate with a soft blanket or towel.
  • First thing in the morning, take the pup outside to go to the bathroom. Give lots of praise when he goes, and promptly bring him in for breakfast.

  • Feed your puppy in the crate, if possible, as it gives him a pleasurable experience while in the crate. Within 10-20 minutes take him outside again as he will often need a bowel movement shortly after eating.

  • You should allow your puppy to eat until full, then pick up the bowl and do not allow him to free feed. The reason is that you want him on a schedule so that he will not have unexpected bowel movements. Dogs who eat all day tend to go all day and house training is not as easy.

  • Once he's had a bowel movement, praise him and bring him in to play. He should be good for another 30 minutes or so.

  • When you cannot supervise him, you should put him in the crate with a chew toy to keep him busy.

  • Puppies can generally "hold it" for an hour or two, so when the hour is up, take him out again and praise him when he goes.

  • You'll want to take him out before you retire for the night and then again first thing the next morning. Crating at night will help teach your pup to hold it through the night. If he whines in the middle of the night, it may mean that he has to go. Most pups over 8 weeks can make it through the night without incident, depending on the size of the dog, the larger the better for ability to hold it.

Your pup may make mistakes in the beginning, but once he realizes that he's going to get out of the crate for lots of pee and play time, then he will learn to hold it longer and longer. As he's allowed more free play time, leave the crate door open so he will be accustomed to going in and out of his little den. Even after he's outgrown the use of the crate, it's a great tool to have for trips or for when you need to isolate him (example, when carpenters or cleaning people who are apt to leave doors ajar are at your house). Remember, the crate is a tool and the more consistent you are in the beginning, the greater success you will have in the end.

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