Wednesday, February 15, 2006

This is why Crate Training is not The BEST method for Dog House Training

A popular theory about the best way to train a new puppy is that they should be crate trained. This means that the dog should spend most of their time in a crate which is large enough to comfortably move around.

The puppy should sleep in the crate and be in the crate whenever no one is interacting with them. It should contain blankets and toys, as well as food and water. Keeping the puppy in the crate is supposed to make it understand that when it needs to go to the bathroom, they must go outside of its home for potty breaks.

Dogs are clean animals, and do not like to soil their home, which is their crate. As they get older and larger, the dog will understand that the entire house is their home, and they will not want to soil it.

By this time, they should have learned when they need to go outside when duty calls.
Some believe feel it is cruel to keep a puppy in a crate or cage for most of the day, but crate training advocates claim that the dog will grow to see the crate as their special place or cave, and be quite comfortable in it. It sounded like a reasonable idea to me, and since I had never had a puppy, I felt I should listen to the experts. I bought a crate that was approximately six feet long, four feet wide, and three feet high, stuffed it with blankets, placed my dog inside, and waited.

My dog, a Maltese, Tymmie. He did not regard it as his own special place. In fact,
he hated it! He cried all night, peed and pooped in the crate, and was generally miserable any time he had to go inside. I knew that it would take time, so I continued keeping him in the crate overnight and while I was at work for several weeks.

The situation never improved, and my heart broke every night that I had to listen to his cry. I abandoned the crate, opting instead to keep him kenneled in the kitchen while I went to work, placing newspaper by the door. Happy to no longer be confined to the crate, he caught on right away and soon graduated from the kitchen to the downstairs and eventually the whole house.

By the time I got my second dog, I had learned my lesson. I set up a “special place” for him in case the first crate training experience was just a fluke, but he was more interested and agreeable in the crate than Tymmie was. We kept Cocoa crated in the family room for a few weeks, but by the time Cocoa was eight months old, he had graduated to the entire family room when left alone. Cocoa learned proper behavior from Tynnie, and caught on quickly to potty training with the assistance of positive reinforcement treats, and has been well behaved ever since. I have come to regard crate training as it is dependent upon the puppy.

Some puppies like their crate and regard it as a cave or a safe place, while others feel trapped and will never get over it being locked in a cage like box. Tymmie needs his freedom while Cocoa doesn’t mind the crate. Maybe it has something to do with the difference of size of breed both dogs are, hhmmmm?


Anonymous said...

You have described my dog's situation to a T. When we brought home our 8 week old Newfoundland puppy we immediately started with the crate training following everything we had read in the books and advice from friends who had experience with crate training. From day one she did not like it. Everyone from the vet to her obidience trainer would say that she would outgrow it and would learn to love her crate. Instead it got worse. She went from having accidents after 3 hours, to having "accidents" after less than an hour. She would cry for hours at night. We tried to let her cry her self to sleep (Ferber method for puppies???) but it would always end with a big mess to clean up. Finally, at about 5-1/2 months of age, we gave up and let her sleep in the kitchen, gated into one small section. She chewed on the chair legs for a while, but that was the extent of her problems there, and that ended after a couple of weeks. However, we continued to crate her during the day while we were at work. We'd have a dog walker come during the day, and then our sitter would come home with the kids after school. The crate accidents continued during the day, but at night she was great in the kitchen. She also stopped having accidents in the house while we were home. But, she would be completely wild when let out of the crate. She would jump and nip at whomever let her out and it would be hard to get her under control. For fear of losing our babysitter and our sanity as well, we bit the bullet and let her stay in the kitchen during the day when we are not home. She was a little over 6 months at that point. Now, at 7 months, other than on the odd occassion, the accidents have stopped. She can go more hours now than she ever went while crated. She is happy, not crazy, when people come home. It is like a new dog. Everyone - parents, kids, sitter, dog walker - are all much happier now. I won't say that crate training is bad, but it apparently is not for every dog.

Faith said...

Hi, glad to hear that your doggie has gotten over it and behaves normally.

Yeah, crate training is not for every dog.


Faith said...

Hi, glad to know that your doggie has gotten over it and behaves normally.

Yeah, you are right, crate training is not for every dog.