Dog and Puppy Crate Training Pros and Cons

Debate continues unabated about whether or not crate training dogs is healthy or harmful. ‘Crating’ involves placing a pet in a cage, usually plastic or metal of roughly the size of the dog, for a period of time during the day or night. Proponents argue that crating gives the dog a sense of ‘property’, a place it can call its own. In this little home within the home, the dog feels safe surrounded by familiar smells and objects. Here, the dog can retreat from fearful noises or boisterous children. Those who favor crate training assert that potty training is much easier when combined with use of a crate. Dogs, they say, will naturally avoid soiling their ‘den’ and ‘hold it’ until they’re released to go outside. Opponents counter that locking the dog into a cage barely large enough to turn around in suppresses its natural desire to roam. It removes the dog’s ability to explore its environment at will and to soak up stimulating sights and smells. Those against the use of crates point to the frequent instances when puppies will play in their own waste and simply soil themselves worse. Locking the dog away, they say, is more for the convenience of the owner than the well-being of the dog. As with any debate of this kind, there are no doubt good and bad points on both sides. Objective studies on the issue are sparse and equally divided. Provided certain ‘rules’ are observed, there’s probably no harm, and possibly some good, to be had from crate training. Even proponents recognize that excessive lengths of forced crate time is bad for the dog. Any dog locked up in a small space is not getting needed exercise and may be restrained from eliminating for longer than is healthy. So, keep the crate time to no more than two hours maximum. Opponents worry that crated dogs can injure themselves through a natural desire to escape or rowdiness inside the cage. Make sure that the collar won’t snag. Check to ensure there are no sharp edges on the crate, and that construction is strong enough to withstand the dog’s normal jostling and pushing on the walls. Above all, make sure it can’t tip over. Advocates assert that crate trained animals will do better on car, train or plane trips. They’re used to the confinement and they have a familiar-smelling environment with them during a time of stress. For owners who have to take their pets on long trips, there may be some value in this view. Critics suggest that (except in cases of permanent re-location) it’s best to leave pets at home. Apart from short trips to the grocery store or vet or to a neighbor’s house, animals fare better in familiar territory. But, if you must take them, be especially careful to do so in a well-constructed crate. Make sure no objects can fall into, not just out of, the cage. Though the debate isn’t likely to be settled anytime soon, exercising common sense is the best way to judge the actual net effect – good or bad – on your particular pet. Try leaving the door open after a few weeks of training and see whether they seek or avoid the crate. Let the dog weigh in on the question.

Dog Training – A Dog’s Nature

Dogs are surprisingly complex creatures.

Some official estimates of the number of breeds reaches as high as 800 in Western countries alone. Even given that distinguishing one breed from another can be carried to absurd extremes, the variety is astonishing from a human perspective, who have, perhaps, a dozen ‘breeds’.

Complicating the picture still further is the well-known fact that dogs have descended from wolves but began domestic interaction with humans over 10,000 years ago. As a consequence, there are behaviors that develop regardless of circumstances and some that are as unique as the human the dog is paired with. Still, some common traits stand out.

Dogs are predators.

That doesn’t mean they necessarily hunt and attack every passing cat or rat, but the capacity is always in them. With acute hearing and head muscles that allow precise orientation of their ears, dogs can pick up a range of sounds and locate the source quickly and with high accuracy.

A dog’s field of vision is higher than that of humans. Their field of view has been estimated from 180-270 degrees, by comparison to a human’s 100-150 degrees, allowing them to track events better.

And, of course, there’s that famous sense of smell. Citing figures such as having 25 times as many scent-receptor cells or being able to sense concentrations 100 million times smaller than humans conveys the fact one way.

Another is to report behavior. Golden Retrievers, for example, can smell gophers through two feet of packed snow and a foot of frozen earth. And, they’ll dig through it to get to the gopher. That’s predatory behavior.

Dogs are social animals.

That’s common knowledge, of course. But, though known, it’s often ignored. Individuals will often lock a lone dog away in a garage or pen, or on a rope in the yard for long periods. This isolation from contact with humans and other animals invariably leads to fear and/or aggression and other forms of maladjustment. Dogs need companionship in order to develop healthy behavior.

Isolating a dog for brief periods can be a useful training technique. Fear of expulsion from the pack can incent overly assertive, alpha-status seeking dogs into alignment with the trainer’s goals. In any human-dog pair, the human must be the alpha (leader). The alternative is property destruction, human frustration and unsafe conditions for people and dogs.

But excessive time devoid of social interaction with another dog, the human, or even a friendly cat harms the dog’s psychology and leads to unwanted behavior. Even guard dogs have to be able to distinguish between external ‘threats’ and members of its own ‘pack’.

Dogs are exploratory.

Like the two-year-old humans at roughly their same mental level, dogs learn by exploring their environment. And like those humans, they can engage in destructive behavior. Dogs are no respecters of property. Training and an appropriately selected set of objects and suitable area can channel that behavior into something acceptable to humans and healthy for the dog.

Providing toys with characteristics very distinct from human property, such as rawhide bones rather than rubber balls that are hard to tell from children’s, leads to less confusion and misbehavior. In many cases, however, the problem is solved by scent. The dog’s toys may look like the child’s, but smell very different.

Some amount of digging may be inevitable as part of the dog’s exploration. Be prepared to patch holes in lawn if the dog is unsupervised for very long. Plants can usually be protected with cayenne pepper paste, bitter apple and other preparations.

Dogs are scavengers

Dogs will eat deer droppings, even when they have perfectly sound and ample diets. They’ll chew on dead rats, eat grass and ingest a wide variety of things that their own experience shows causes upset stomachs. And they’ll repeat the behavior day after day.

Acknowledging their limited ability to connect cause and effect when those are separated in time is a must in order to keep them healthy and safe.

Recognizing a dog’s nature, and working within in it rather than against it leads to less frustration for both human and dog. Enjoying the beneficial aspects, such as spontaneous dog hugs (leaning into a leg), paw offering and a head laid on the lap are just a few of the rewards.

Training Puppies

When you first get your puppy it is tempting to just want to play with it and admire how cute they are. But this is the time when you should thinking about training. Training puppies is fun, rewarding and helps to develop trust and a bond with your dog.

You should consider training puppies as a team effort. Your puppy cannot train or learn any behavior on its own. They will take instruction and cues for you. A dogs bahavior will only be as good as their owner’s ability to train them. And as doggs are natural pack animals they will look to you as their pack leader.

Whistle Training For Your Dog

There are many different kinds of training methods you can use to teach your dog the basic commands such as sit, stay and come.  Most dog training commands use either voice commands or hand signal commands to communicate to your dog what it is you want them to do.  But what do your do if you loose sight of them or they of you?  Whistle training is a important skill every dog owner should learn and use.

If you take your dog on a hike in a field or wooded area off leash there often moments when they will run off out of sight.  It may be just to explore the surroundings but it may also be because they found something to chase.  In these cases you can use whistle training that has the main advantage of being able to give the come command to your dog over long distances.

The best way to teach you dog whistle training is by using food or treats.  Over time your dog will learn that they get their favorite snack every time you blow the whistle.  It should be a fun game for them that is positive and end in lots of praise and food.

Start by blowing the whistle and then treat right away.  Do this a number of times.  You can then walk a few steps away from your dog and blow the whistle again.  If they do not come encourage them and treat them as soon as they come to you.  Again do this several times.  Take your time and don’t rush things.  It may take a couple of days for your dog to understand what is expected of them.

Once they get the basic idea the next step is to play hide and seek.  Put your dog in a sit or down stay and hide somewhere in the back yard or house.  Call your dog’s name and blow the the whistle.  Keep blowing until your dog finds you.  Once they do give them a treat.  Again do this a few times.

Now the next time you or on a hike and your dog runs into the bushes you can blow your whistle and they should be able to return to you.  Just remember to bring their favorite treat and a little snack for yourself.


Housebreaking A Dog

The most important lesson you teach your dog is not to pee in the house. It sounds simple but many dog owner experience lots of frustration with this one or do not know how the proper techniques involved in housebreaking a dog.

The first thing is to not start trying to housebreak your dog too early. This is because dogs that are around the four week mark in age may not have the muscle control needed. However if you start too late you could be creating some bad habits. So when is the right time? Around six to eight weeks is a good time.

When it comes to housebreaking a dog patients is going to be a virtue. Do not expect it to happen over night and even when you think you’ve got there will still be accidents inside. But in time the accidents will be less and less. It can take up to a month or more to housebreak your puppy but it can happen in as little as a week or two.

Housebreaking a dog requires the same principles as teach then to sit, stay or come in that it is a learned behavior. Use your body language and tone of voice to help instill the desired actions and praise your puppy when they do a good job.

The real trick is to know when they are about to eliminate so you can stop they and direct them to go outside. A few tell tale signs are circling or squatting. Once you see this you can quickly pick-up your puppy and bring them outside. It is a good idea to use a command like “outside” as you are doing this to help the dog associate the behavior.

Since puppies tend to eliminate every few hours you can preemptively take them outside. You may even want to hang a bell on the front door. As you leave the home say “outside” and ring the bell. Your dog will eventually associate the bell and “outside” with going to the bathroom. In time your dog will ring the bell on its own to let you know it wants to “go”. Stick with it and don’t get frustrated. If you are consist ant you will succeed in housebreaking your dog.

Puppy Potty Training

Bringing a new puppy home is an exciting event. But once you get over the novelty of this new little beast, you will need to establish a few ground rules in your house. The most important one will be to teach your puppy to go outside for his business.
Potty training is not a race. It takes time and commitment and there is no written rule as to how long it will take. Some dogs grasp the concept of potty training very quickly and will be house broken in a few days, others may take a few weeks. It is important not to punish your puppy if he goes in the house. If you didn’t catch him in action, don’t punish him. It is also very important to reward the right behavior. Puppy need to know when they do something right.

There are two popular method for potty training your puppy.

Crate Training?

This training method relies on the fact that dogs do not like to soil their bed and the crate symbolizes a dog’s den or bed. Using a crate works quite well and most puppies will control their bladder and bowels for quite some time. Young puppies may be able to hold it for 7-8 hours, while in a crate, however, we do not recommend leaving puppies unattended in crate for such long periods of time.

Using this method, place the puppy in the crate whenever he cannot be watched. This may be while you are in the house or away for a few hours. Before placing the puppy in the crate, take him outside to a favorite spot and again as soon as you take him out of the crate. Using this method, puppies should also sleep in their crate at night. Only use a blanket and maybe a chew toy in the crate.

One of the most important advantage of crate training is that it teaches your puppy to “hold it”. He learns that he doesn’t have to relieve himself right away as soon as the urge appears. Puppies that have gone through crate training usually make fewer potty mistakes later on.

Make sure that you buy a crate that is just large enough for your dog to comfortably lie in it. To avoid buying multiple crate, you may want to get one that will be large enough for when your dog is fully grown but you will need to use a divider to limit the space while he is still a puppy. If the crate is too big, the puppy may learn to urinate or defecate in a corner.

Inside Training?

This method consists of putting down newspapers or pretreated pads and encouraging your puppy to use them for bathroom needs. Whenever you see your puppy sniffing the floor and walking around looking for a place to go, gently pick him up and place him on the papers or pad. Don’t forget to praise once he goes to the bathroom.

Once the puppy starts using the papers or pads consistently, you then want to move them either closer to the door or to place another set outside. The idea is to transition the toilet habit of going in one spot inside to going in one spot outside. Eventually, you will be able to eliminate the pads. One downside of this method is that the puppy is encouraged to go inside the home. This may slow down the potty training process.

Regardless of the method you choose to use, verbal cues will be very important. It is a great idea to use a word when it’s time to go to the bathroom. You can use “outside?” or ?“washroom?” or any other word that you prefer. Just make sure that all the members of the family are using the same verbal cue. Once outside, you can encourage your puppy to go with words such as “do it” or “potty” or “hurry up”, etc. It is very important to praise them as soon as they eliminate and bring him back in right away. Be sure that you only use the “outside” or “washroom” command for the specific purpose to avoid confusion with outdoor play time or walks.

Accidents will happen. Remember that if you didn’t catch your puppy in the act, you should not punish him. Discipline will not help because the pup will not know what the scolding if for. Do not get mad. The accident was really your fault, not the puppy. If you had noticed the “pre-potty” behavior or sniffing and walking around, you could have brought your puppy outside or to his pads. You also want to avoid getting mad when you catch them in the act. Sternly say “No” and bring your pup outside or to his pads. Reward the puppy with a “good dog” once they are done in the correct location.

For the house training to go quickly, you will need to spend as much time as you can with your puppy. Remember to be patient and to stay calm.