You can use crates to train your puppy in many different areas. All dogs and puppies can be crate trained regardless of age or breed. A crate can be used for temporary housing, for sick or injured dogs (and other animals) and for toilet training your puppy. A well set up crate will mimic a wolf's den and will be a great asset for training any dog.
Crates come in two different forms. There are hard crates made of steel and soft crates made of canvas material. Some come on wheels and have one door; some two doors and most are collapsible so you can move them around. There is a wide variety available from pet stores so it is a good idea to know which one is best for you before you purchase it.
Which crate is best for my puppy?
Steel crates are suitable for taking your puppy in the car. They are made of thick steel tubing and have a steel tray underneath for easy cleaning. They are entirely open so your puppy can see where it is going.
Soft crates are made of durable canvas. They are usually completely enclosed so your puppy feels more secure but they are not suitable for travelling in a car because they are difficult to anchor down. Soft crates are light to carry but can be torn and ripped by an over excited puppy.
Whichever type of crate you choose you have to make sure that it is only big enough for your dog or puppy to get in, turn around and then lay down to sleep. If you are crate training a puppy, you may have to purchase a larger one as your puppy out grows the one its in. Getting a crate that just fits your puppy, will stop your puppy from going to the toilet in its crate. Once this becomes a habit, it will make crate toilet training very difficult.
Crate training at home
Set up your crate in a place that is out of the way but where your puppy can see what is happening in the house. Your puppy needs to feel that his crate is for him only so it is a good idea not to allow children or other animals inside it.
Place your puppy's bed and other blankets in the crate. Food and water should be available in the crate. To stop your puppy spilling bowls, purchase some stainless steel coup cups (bird feeders) from your local pet store and attach them to the sides.
Do not force your puppy into his crate. Leave the door open and let him get used to it. Throw some treats in and let him go in and help himself. He should be allowed to come out whenever he wants at this point.
Crate training and toilet training
Most puppies won't go to the toilet where they sleep so you can use a crate to toilet train your dog. You will need to use a crate that is just big enough for your puppy to walk into; turn around and lay down. If it is too big, your puppy may decide to use a corner to go to the toilet in. If you leave your puppy in a crate for toilet training, you will have to make sure that you let him out to the toilet as often as possible. When he is a few months old he will be able to hold on for hours but in the beginning you will have to be prepared to get him outside to the place where you want him to go as often as possible. The quicker you are at doing this, the quicker your puppy will be trained to go in the place where you want him to go.
Crate training for a sick or injured dog
The day may come when you need to crate your puppy or dog if it injured or sick. Often sore legs or joints won't heal if your dog is continually using them. By minimizing movement, your dog will be able to get better sooner. If you have already crate trained your dog when he was a puppy, then you will not have much problems getting him used to a crate when he is older. If not, the best way is to use food as a reward and feed and treat your dog when it inside the crate. Cover up the crate to stop draughts and also to help your sick dog feel more secure. Place the crate in a quiet area of the house where it can recover without too many distractions from family members or other pets.