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Tips for Crate-training Success

Sacred Spaces

A little white dog peers inquisitively out the open door of a furniture-like dog crate.Crates come in all types, including hard plastic, metal bars and nylon. Whatever style you choose, the crate should be large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around comfortably but disallow extra room to eliminate. Because dogs are social, the crate should be placed in a room with activity, like the living room, away from excessive heat or cold. "The crate should also be convenient to the exit door when you are training," says KC Theisen, HSUS director of pet care issues. "You don't want to have to go through five rooms to get your puppy outside."

Biding Time

Puppies and some older dogs have limited bladder and bowel control and shouldn't spend more than three or four hours in the kennel at a time. For adult dogs, stick with five to six hours maximum, except for overnight sleeping. Once your pet is reliably house-trained, leave the door open.

Slow and Steady

Previous experiences can affect a dog's response to the crate. For A young girl kneels beside her dog's kennel with her hand on her pet.example, pet store and puppy mill dogs are forced to eliminate in their cages. Because their natural instincts were frustrated, patience is key in the crate-training process. Thiesen's late dog, Jessica, was a pet store keeshond surrendered by her family after seven years because of house-training issues. Theisen started Jessica with 15-minute periods in the crate and enlisted her roommate to help when she couldn't be home. Rather than using punishment, she ignored Jessica's mistakes. "Eventually, she got enough praise for going outside and learned how to hold it," she says.

Crate Haters

Some dogs never get used to being closed up in a kennel. One alternative is to place the crate, door open, in a medium-sized room, such as a puppy-proofed kitchen. Set food and water near the crate and pee pads several feet away, and use a gate rather than a closed door to block off the room so your pet won't feel isolated. Another method for pups who won't accept the crate is to tether the dog to you, says training expert Tamar Geller. "And just love on them and show them how to use the outside or the pee pad and give them [rewards] when they succeed."

Get more tips and watch a video at humanesociety.org/cratetraining

allanimals Vol. 16, Issue 1, January/February 2014 © 2014 The Humane Society of the United States. All rights reserved. Article by Ruthanne Johnson