Crate Training Your New Golden Puppy
Crate training is one of the most important things you can do for your new dog. Crate training serves many purposes. It gives your pet a private, quiet place to go when he/she needs some downtime. It gives you a way to control an exuberant dog when you don’t have time to enact other training strategies. It helps your dog have better habits, and contributes to a regular schedule. And, perhaps most importantly, it is an invaluable tool in house training your pet.
Crate training is not difficult because dogs are natural den animals, and they feel safer when they have an enclosed area for sleeping or resting. People who don’t give their dog a crate often comment that their dogs seek out crate-like spaces. They might try to sleep under your desk while you are working, or rest under a dining room chair. Dogs want and need the security of a den, and a crate is a den custom-made for dogs.
I recommend wire crates. A crate should be large enough for your pet to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably, but not so large that he/she could use one side as a bathroom and the other side as a bedroom. For a small puppy, put a large stuffed animal in the crate to artificially reduce the size, until your puppy is large enough to use the whole space. That way, you won’t have to purchase one crate for the puppy and another for the adult-sized dog.
When you first bring your pet home, your goal is to make the first interactions with the crate positive. Put the crate where you plan to keep it, keeping in mind that until your dog is house trained, he/she will probably sleep there at night and that dogs like to know where you are. If not within view of your bed, it should at least be in a warm, comfortable place nearby, within hearing range of you. Put a Sherpa pad, soft blanket, and some treats in the crate and leave the door open. Bring your new pet into the room that the crate is in and let him/her sniff it out for himself/herself.
The first night, or first few nights, in the crate can be trying for everyone including your new puppy. Just remember that your new dog is adjusting to a whole new environment, and that can be stressful and a little scary. New human babies cry a lot, too, but luckily, puppies adjust and mature much faster than human babies!! Just keep reassuring your puppy without getting too emotional about it, which will only increase his/her stress.
During the day, use the crate whenever you can’t directly supervise your puppy until he/she is reliably and completely house trained. Pretty soon, your puppy will probably go in there on his own, just because he likes his/her soft, comfy, treat-filled little spot.