|Crate and Paper Potty Training
Written By: Angie Baumhover (Parizo)
Copyright To: Angie Baumhover (Parizo)
This page is not to be copied without written permission by Angie Parizo of Starlight Dachshund
Crate Training (Option 1)
Before you crate-train, please be aware: a dog that is left in a crate all day long, gets let out in the evening after work for a few
hours and put back in the crate for the night can become neurotic, destructive, unhappy and noisy. If you work all day, it is
recommended that you find someone who can take your dog out for a long walk in the afternoon. Dogs are not fish. They need
something to occupy their minds. Dogs are den animals and like the crate, but even a den animal would go crazy if it was
locked up all day long. Keep in mind that a puppy can only physically hold it for so long before its body just cannot hold it any
longer. Until the pup's bladder is fully mature it will need to be taken out often.
You must be willing to invest time and energy for just a few short weeks in house training. The effort you put in now will last
for the rest of your pet's life.
The crate training method is as follows. Buy a crate and for the first three to four weeks keep your puppy in it when you are
not with him. Make sure the crate is not too big. It should be large enough for the puppy to stand up and easily turn around but
no larger. Dogs do not want to soil their beds and the use of a crate teaches them to control their urge to eliminate. You must
maintain an eagle-eye at all times. As soon as you see him pacing, sniffing around, and turning in circles, immediately take
him outside. He is telling you "I am going to go pee-pee somewhere, and this carpet looks like as good a place as any." NO,
you do not have time to put on your shoes, just go.
Be patient and do not rush the little guy. He may have to go several times in one "pit stop." Give him about 10 minutes before
taking him back inside. Do not play with him while you are on this mission. Let him know this is a business trip.
Make sure you take him out after every meal and play session BEFORE you put him back in his crate. Be consistent and
establish a schedule. Pay attention to your puppy's behavior so you can develop a schedule that works for you and the pup.
When does your puppy naturally defecate? In the morning? Ten minutes after eating? Around bedtime? You may have to make
Be fair to your puppy. He cannot be expected to stay alone in his crate for endless hours and not relieve himself. During your
work days, you will need to have someone go to your home at least once (lunchtime is good) to let the puppy out and take him
for a long walk. Your dog is not a fish and he needs something to occupy his mind.
Make sure everyone who is involved in the housebreaking process is using the same spot in the yard and the same word.
Everyone should agree on the place they will take the puppy. The odor from the previous visits will cause the puppy to want to
go in that spot. Use a simple word like "outside" when taking your puppy to the chosen spot. Use this word consistently and
later this word will help build communication between the family and the dog. When you notice him going toward the door and
you say "outside" he can say, "Yup, that’s where I need to go."
Until your puppy is about 5 months old you will need to take him out frequently and keep that eagle-eye on him. But before you
know it, you are going to be able to trust and communicate with your new pet. And he will learn that when he pleases you by
going out to do his business, he gets more freedom in the house.
If you plan to take him for a walk, then he should do his eliminating at home, before you go. Many people take their pups for a
walk, and as soon as they eliminate, they bring the dog home, thus sending the message that they are going home because
the dog eliminated. If you want to start your walk right away, do not turn around and head home as soon as he poops.
After a half hour of play, crate him for a nap. Every hour (or so as he ages) take him out to pee. If he pees, give him play time, if
not, back into crate. Just remember prevention of mistakes, and rewarding for good behavior.
6 weeks - elimination every hour
2 months - pup should have 2 to 3 hours of control
3 months - 4 hours
4 months and up - 5 hours
Many young dogs can go all night at 3 months.
Always take the puppy out the same door, the one you are going to want him to signal at. Bells work great for some owners.
Hang bells on the door, and give them a kick every time you open the door. Some dogs can be quiet, and stand at the door and
look at it, some will let out a little yip, but others rely on you to see them standing at the door. So bells can be a marvelous tool.
They will learn to swat them to get the door to open. Others use doggy doors. But a young pup can never be sent out to pee, he
must be taken out.
Is Crate Training Cruel?
Many people are concerned about whether it's cruel to leave their dog in a cage for any amount of time. Most dog trainers
agree that it is no crueler to leave your dog in a crate than it is to leave a baby in a playpen or crib. Crates allow dog owners
the peace of mind of knowing their dog is safe when they are not there to supervise.
Also, dogs are known to be den animals. They like having a safe and secure place to call their own. If crate training is done
correctly, crates can provide this safe haven. Dog owners often report that their dogs continue to seek out their crates long
after house training has been accomplished. For others, once the dog is able to be left alone for several hours without having
an accident or becoming destructive, they stop using the crate and allow their dogs free run of their homes while they are out.
Choose a Crate for Your Dog
There are several different types of crates to choose from, including a wire cage, a plastic pet carrier, and a soft-sided
canvas or nylon crate. The wire crate is the most commonly used. It allows your dog to see what is going on around him, and
many have an extra panel which allows you to make the crate bigger or smaller depending on the size of your dog. This type
of crate is collapsible, and it has a sliding tray in the floor which makes it easy to clean.
The plastic pet carrier is also a good option for crate training. This is the kind you most often see used for airline travel. The
drawback to this kind of crate is that it is enclosed on three sides, so it does not let in as much light as a wire crate. It is also
a little harder to clean.
The soft-sided crates are a good option for dogs who are not big chewers. These are lightweight, so they are great to carry
along when you are traveling with your dog. The problem with the soft-sided crates is that a dog who likes to chew or scratch
at the sides will be able to break out. It is not a good choice for young puppies.
Whichever type of crate you choose to use, size is important. The crate should not be too large. You want your dog to have
enough room to lie down comfortably and turn around. If the crate is too big, your dog may use one area of the crate to sleep
and another spot to eliminate. Many of the wire crates are sold with a divider. This is perfect if you are crate training a
growing puppy. The divider allows you to confine your puppy to a small area of the crate, and then make the crate larger as
your puppy grows.
Introduce Your Dog to the Crate
Crate training should be kept very positive. Introduce your puppy or adult dog to the crate slowly. Put something soft in the
bottom of the crate, along with some of your dog's toys. Throw some treats inside. Let your dog explore the crate at his own
pace without forcing him to go inside. Praise him and give him a treat when he goes in on his own. Until he seems comfortable
with his crate, keep the door open and let your dog wander in and out as he wishes.
Confining Your Dog in the Crate
Once your dog is comfortable going in and out of the crate, it is time to start getting him used to being confined. Throw some
treats in the crate, and once your dog is inside, close the door. Wait a minute or so, and as long as your dog is quiet, let him
out of the crate. Slowly extend the amount of time you leave your dog in the crate while you are at home until he is
comfortable being confined in the crate for up to an hour or more.
Once your dog is comfortable with being confined, begin to get him used to be left alone while in his crate. When he is calm in
his crate, step out of the room for a few minutes and then step back in. Gradually build up the amount of time you are out of
the room until your dog or puppy is comfortable being left alone in his crate for an hour or more.
The "Don'ts" of Crate Training
There are a few simple rules to keep in mind to make crate training successful. First, never use your dog's crate to punish
him. Your dog should consider his crate a happy, comfortable, and safe place. If you use his crate to punish your dog, chances
are he will be fearful and anxious when left in it.
It is also important that you never let your dog out of the crate while he is whining or barking. He should be completely calm
before you release him. Opening the crate while he is barking or whining simply teaches him that if he makes enough noise,
he will be let out. Making this mistake can lead to many sleepless nights as you wait for your puppy to settle down.
Finally, never leave your dog crated for longer than he is physically able to hold his bladder or bowels. You cannot expect the
impossible. Puppies can usually hold it for no more than 3-4 hours. An adult dog who has never been house trained should
also not be left for longer than 3-4 hours. Older dogs may be able to hold it a little longer. Dogs should not be left crated for
more than this length of time without being taken out for exercise, playtime, and time to cuddle with you.
Paper Training (Option 2)
Unless you can monitor your puppy 24 hours a day, don't expect the house training process to be completed until your puppy
is at least 6 months old. It's normal for a young puppy to be a little 'input-output' machine. Since puppies are growing and
developing rapidly at this stage, they eat more food, burn up more energy and seem to need to eliminate constantly! They also
have not yet developed bowel and bladder control, so they can't 'hold it' as long as adult dogs.
House Training When You Are Not Home
Confine your puppy to a small, 'puppy-proofed' room and paper the entire floor. Put his bed, toys and food/water bowls there.
At first there will be no rhyme or reason to where your pup eliminates. He will go every where and any where. He will also
probably play with the papers, chew on them, and drag them around his little den. Most puppies do this and you just have to
live with it. Don't get upset; just accept it as life with a young puppy. The important thing is that when you get home, clean up
the mess and lay down fresh papers.
Passive House Training or Paper Training
While your puppy is confined, he is developing a habit of eliminating on paper because no matter where he goes, it will be on
paper. As time goes on, he will start to show a preferred place to do his business. When this place is well established and the
rest of the papers remain clean all day, then gradually reduce the area that is papered. Start removing the paper that is
furthest away from his chosen location. Eventually you will only need to leave a few sheets down in that area only. If he ever
misses the paper, then you've reduced the area too soon. Go back to papering a larger area or even the entire room. Once
your puppy is reliably going only on the papers you've left, then you can slowly and gradually move his papers to a location of
your choice. Move the papers only an inch a day. If puppy misses the paper again, then you're moving too fast. Go back a few
steps and start over. Don't be discouraged if your puppy seems to be making remarkable progress and then suddenly you
have to return to papering the entire room. This is normal. There will always be minor set-backs. If you stick with this
procedure, your puppy will be paper trained.
House Training When You Are Home
When you are home but can't attend to your puppy, follow the same procedures described above. However, the more time you
spend with your puppy, the quicker he will be house trained. Your objective is to take your puppy to his toilet area every time
he needs to eliminate. This should be about once every 45 minutes; just after a play session; just after eating or drinking; and
just upon waking. When he does eliminate in his toilet area, praise and reward him profusely and enthusiastically! Don't use
any type of reprimand or punishment for mistakes or accidents. Your puppy is too young to understand and it can set the
house training process back drastically. Don't allow your puppy freedom outside of his room unless you know absolutely for
sure that his bladder and bowels are completely empty. When you do let him out, don't let him out of your sight. It is a good
idea to have him on leash when he is exploring your home. He can't get into trouble if you are attached to the other end of the
leash. Every 30 minutes return your pup to his toilet area. As your puppy becomes more reliable about using his toilet area
and his bowel and bladder control develops, he can begin to spend more time outside his room with you in the rest of your
home. Begin by giving him access to one room at a time. Let him eat, sleep and play in this room but only when he can be
supervised. When you cannot supervise him, put him back in his room.
Active House Training
The most important thing you can do to make house training happen as quickly as possible is to reward and praise your
puppy every time he goes in the right place. The more times he is rewarded, the quicker he will learn. Therefore it's important
that you spend as much time as possible with your pup and give him regular and frequent access to his toilet area.
Key to Successful House Training
Consistency and Patience. Never scold or punish your puppy for mistakes and accidents. The older your pup gets, the more
he will be able to control his bladder and bowels. Eventually your pup will have enough control that he will be able to "hold it"
for longer and longer periods of time. Let your puppy do this on his own time. When training is rushed, problems usually
develop. Don't forget, most puppies are not reliably house trained until they are at least 6 months old.