Crate Training Your Wheaten/Whoodle Puppy
Dogs are den animals by nature. In the wild they sleep in caves that are safe from intruders. Just like their ancestors, dogs need a place of their own to feel that sense of security, where they can relax and not be bothered by another animal or person. If used properly, the crate makes a great den and wonderful house-training tool. It is also a must in keeping your pup safe and house neat.
Just a Few of the Benefits of Having a Crate-Trained Dog
- He will be more comfortable during those frequent times during the course of his life when he will undoubtedly have to be in a crate – while at the animal hospital, on board a plane, etc.
- Many groomers, pet-boarding kennels, and dog-approved hotels will feel better assured in knowing that a dog is crate-trained because it can usually be an indicator that the dog is a better behaved one.
- When transporting your dog, he is much safer in a crate. If he is not crated and you get into an accident, he could become a flying object, possibly hurting himself and others. In addition, if he is not in a crate, he could wander away from the accident scene.
- Sometimes when company is over it may be too “busy” for your dog. What a joy it would be for him to have the safe, quiet confines of his crate to escape all of the hustle and bustle.
- With a proper crate-training schedule in place, the chances of your home being damaged by accidental soiling or destructive behavior are greatly decreased.
- A crate that is large enough for the puppy to sit, lay down, stand and turn around comfortably. The perfect solution in accommodating the growing puppy is to purchase a crate from a company that also sells partitions for that particular model, and then get one large enough to hold him comfortably at expected full growth. Do not try to hand-make your own partition. If it caves in and scares the pup, your chances of getting him to like his den will be greatly reduced.
- A crate pad and blanket.
- Odor Neutralizer (“See Spot Go,” “Nature’s Miracle,” etc.).
- Collar or Harness
- A six foot leash.
- An empty soda can containing a few pennies with the opening taped shut.
Teaching Him Where to Go and When
- Upon initially arriving home with your new puppy, take him on leash to a pre-designated soil area that you’ve chosen outside. Use this area whenever possible, especially during the training process.
- Patiently wait while he gets familiar with the new smells, and just AS he is about to go to the bathroom (he will start to walk in circles or begin to get into a squatting position), in a low but firm (and audible) voice use a one or two word command (“hurry up” or “go” works well). Doing this just before he goes will initially teach him the meaning of this word.
- Once he goes, praise him like crazy. He will soon make the connection between the command and the actual eliminating, not to mention the fact that he has made you happy, which is a dog’s ultimate goal.
- Once he has become familiar with the command, start to use it as soon as you get to his soil area. This is a great technique when you do not have time to wait for him to go, or when the weather is not conducive to taking a long walk. Remember, praising him each time he eliminates in his outdoor soil area will quickly teach him that this is what is expected of him, and he will be happy to comply, provided that he has to go.
Making the Crate a Fun and Safe Place
- Take him inside and introduce him to the crate in a fun way by throwing toys in the crate for him, using a one-word command for going in. One of the more popular commands would be “kennel.”
- Once he has gone into the crate, praise him like crazy, leaving the door open. Initially feeding your puppy in the opened crate will help to teach him that this is a positive place to be.
- Find a safe chew toy or snack that he really likes and save that for his time in the crate. With perseverance, consistency and patience, most dogs can adapt quickly to their crates.
Keeping a Close Eye During Training Period
- When not in crate, on lap, sleeping, etc., puppy should ALWAYS be where you can see him – on a six-foot leash with you at the other end of it. This is very important during the training period so as to ensure that he does not soil in an undesirable area or cause destructive damage to a favorite piece of furniture.
- Consider a rug that has been peed on (or a sofa leg that has been destroyed) to be your fault for not watching puppy during this critical time of teaching him right from wrong.
- When he does something that is unwanted, clap your hands very loudly (this will startle him into immediately stopping) and then calmly use the leash to either bring him out to his soil area, or to find him something more constructive to do. Again, do not forget to praise him once he is doing something that you consider desirable.
- Very Important: When you cannot watch your puppy, he should always be in his crate but no longer than two-three hours during the puppy training stage.
The First Night
During the first night, your puppy may cry, whine or even howl. This is not only because of being in the crate; he is alone for the first time in his life – away from mom and littermates.
Some Suggestions to Help During the First Night
- A hot water bottle to substitute the warmth from the bodies of the littermates that are no longer with him.
- A ticking clock may assist in making the puppy comfortable as it has been reported that it sounds much like the heartbeat of the mother (or a littermate).
- You may want to put the crate next to your bed for the first few nights or, if puppy is very noisy, in a room far away so you won’t hear him.
- Teach him not to cry in crate by helping him to associate his noisiness in a negative but gentle way. Try shaking a cleaned out soda can (hiding it behind your back or under the blankets so that he does not know it is you making the noise) that contains a few pennies taped inside. As soon as puppy stops crying, stop the shaking. He will soon learn that when he is quiet, all is quiet.
Do Not Ever…
- …use the crate as a punishment tool. It should be a fun, happy place. Always send him into his crate using a positive, upbeat voice.
- …let your puppy out if he is making noise. This only teaches him that making noise gets him out of the crate. You may have to buy earplugs for a few nights. If you think he may have to go out wait until he is quiet for a minute and be right there to open the door and let him out.
- …leave puppy unattended. He should be in crate with door closed whenever he cannot be watched. This will ensure that he and your home are safe.
- …leave collar or harness on dog while in crate.
- …hit your puppy.
- …verbally scold when finding accidents in the house. If you do not catch puppy in the act, then scolding will only do more harm than good. Consider it a lesson learned – on your part.
- …use a heating pad, which is a danger if chewed or when wet.
- …praise unwanted, negative behavior! This is a no-no as they will forever associate their crying with being praised. Instead, ignore or use a learned command to correct the bad stuff and then once the pup has corrected it himself, praise him. Dog’s way of thinking: “If mom is praising me for being a brat, then I will be a brat more often!” (negative reinforcement). “If mom is praising me for doing good, I will try to do good, provided that I know what is expected of me” (positive reinforcement). Remember that dogs always want to please in a way that seems most pleasing to their owners. Praising only the good things will teach them right from wrong quickly and efficiently.
General Training Tips
- The crate should be big enough for your dog to comfortably sit, stand and turn around in, but not big enough that he would be able to mess at one end and sleep at the other.
- Repeat, the crate should never be used as a punishment tool. This does not mean that you are not able to use the crate for time – out periods. It just has to be done in a positive manner. Always make the crate fun. Never scold him before putting him in. Even if upset with puppy, keep your voice low but firm, using a cheerful tone when giving your puppy his learned command to go into the crate.
- Initially practice during the day so as to have puppy quietly used to it in time for bed. This should help to ensure a restful night’s sleep. Caution: The first few nights (or even weeks) might be anything but!
- If pup goes to the bathroom in his soil area, he should be free of any accidents, provided you do not give him water or food. This is a good time to allow him to be with you at a watchful range. If he has not gone while outside, he should not be allowed to be with you but instead should return to his crate. Repeat: do not let on that you are impatient or unhappy; the crate should always be a positive place for him to learn and grow. Leave the room, and then try again in approximately thirty minutes. Repeat this method until he has gone to the bathroom in his soil area. Puppy should quickly learn that when he goes, he gets to be with you.
- Pup also needs to learn to be part of the family. Crating him on a daily basis, with door closed, should only continue until he is fully free of soiling or destructive chewing. Until such time, keeping him close to you via a collar and leash will allow him to feel like a valued member of the family, and will help you in the bonding process.
- Being consistent in your training times will really get your dog on a solid schedule. If you crate, exercise, and take your puppy outdoors at roughly the same time every day, he will quickly know what is expected of him. The same especially applies to feeding and watering at the same time each day.
- Make it a habit to always take puppy out to his soil area directly after exiting the crate.
- The best method is to take pup out first thing upon arising from bed, then feed, water, let him rest in crate for 30 minutes (while you get ready for work) before taking him out to his soil area, and playing with him for 10 minutes before bringing him to crate. Repeat these steps every two to four hours. Evenings can be spent with you provided that both you and pup are at both ends of the six – foot leash while preparing dinner, watching television, studying, etc. During times when pup cannot be watched closely (while in shower, on telephone, etc) or where he may be underfoot or in harm’s way (frying foods, friends bring their adult dog or rowdy children, etc), pup should ALWAYS be in crate.
- During training, water should be eliminated three hours before bedtime. If he is thirsty, give him ice cubes instead.
- A puppy should never be in his crate for too long. Undeveloped eight to ten week old puppy bladder muscles can usually hold urine NO longer than three to four hours at a time.
- In the beginning, you may be taking the puppy outside every 2 hours. As the puppy gets older, the time between outside visits can be decreased.
- Never let pup soil in his crate for this will only lead to severe housebreaking problems as an adult. For those unable to exercise pup every three to four hours, consider hiring someone to come in at midday, or confine him to an area with newspapers that are located OUTSIDE of an opened crate.
- Never put newspaper inside of crate. Because breeders often use newspaper in their kennels, pups will probably associate them with being allowed to eliminate.
- Because every dog is different, crate bedding does not always work. With most dogs, bedding works just fine. However, some will eliminate on the blankets as they will associate the nice warm blanket or pad as a place to soil. If this is the case, take the bedding out for a few weeks, and then try putting it back in. If the problem re-occurs, bedding must be totally eliminated during the crate-training process. Also, chewing blankets can be a danger in the crate. One such incident involved a dog that chewed a hole in his blanket and then got it tightly wrapped around his leg. When the owners arrived home the circulation had been cut off to the foot and the leg was swollen. This dog was fortunate as no injuries were sustained.
- If possible, initially practice crating while at home so that puppy does not associate having to be in there only while you are gone.
- When pup is being a real pain or has made a huge mess in the house (and it needs to be cleaned up), be near the crate with some treats in your hand. Call the dog, give him his command in a positive tone (despite how you may be feeling at the moment) to go into the crate. Once he is in, give him the treat and shut the door of the crate. Do not scold pup for the mess, for he has forgotten what he has done, and thinks he is getting the treat for going into the crate.
- There may be days when you are painting or doing some other chores that could be dangerous to the dog if he is out and about. Just grab some kibble, a favorite toy and let the crate be a safe place to stay until it is safe to let him out.
- Keep the location of crates in a central part of the house, where the dog can be with you and family. Multiple crates are often used in more than one section of the house (bedroom, living, family room, kitchen, etc.) so that the dog feels like part of the family while confined to his den.”
- Some dogs are more comfortable (and quiet) with their crates covered.
- Follow the same crate-training procedures for any setbacks in urination or destructive behavior.
Sample Crate Schedule
During the initial stages of crate-training, following a strict daily schedule will help to expedite the process of housebreaking your dog. The following sample schedule works well for those home full-time during the training process:
- 6:00 AM: Upon waking up in morning: Leash-walk dog to soil area. Return to house, serve food and water, let puppy rest in crate for 20 minutes then take your puppy back out to soil area to go potty.
- 8:15 AM: Return dog to soil area on leash. If after ten minutes he has yet to do bathroom duties, return to crate for ten minutes before returning him to soil area. The purpose of this is to let your dog know that he is only outside to do his business. Play with your dog for thirty minutes after he has successfully done bathroom duties, then return to crate for approximately an hour and thirty minutes.
- 11:30 AM: Provide dog water, bring to soil area, following the same instructions above if he does not go. Once he has gone, and you have spent thirty minutes playing with your dog, return to crate for an hour and thirty minutes.
- 1:45 PM: Provide dog water, bring to soil area, following the same instructions above if he does not go. If crate-training a puppy, feed second of three meals, let the dog rest for 30 minutes in crate before returning to soil area. Once he has gone, play for thirty minutes, then back to crate for an hour and a half.
- 4:00 PM: Provide dog water, bring to soil area, following the same instructions above if he does not go. Once he has gone, and you have spent thirty minutes playing with your dog, return to crate for an hour and thirty minutes.
- 6:15 PM: Provide dog water, bring to soil area, following the same instructions above if he does not go. Feed dog supper, let him rest for thirty minutes in crate before returning to soil area. Once he has gone, and the family dinner is done, allow your dog to be with the family until bedtime, provided that he can be watched at all times and will not be underfoot.
Crate-training is an invaluable tool, provided that it has been introduced and taught in a positive way. With proper, humane methods of crate training, you will notice your dog voluntarily enjoying the peaceful confines of his crate, long after the training period has ended.