Do I really need to crate train my puppy?

Crate training is not only important for you and your home, but for the puppy as well. In nature they would have a den where they could go to rest, for peace and quiet, or just to be alone for a while. A crate is basically a den within your home. It is a special space that is just for your puppy, no one else. Children should never be allowed to bother a puppy or dog who has retreated to his/her "den".

The crate is for sleeping and for brief periods of time when no one will be home to watch after the puppy. It should never be used as punishment, and a puppy should never be left for long periods of time in the crate.

Crate training eliminates an enormous amount of frustration in the long run. The puppy quickly grows accustom to being crated, and your house (carpet, furniture, clothes, bedding, books and valuables of all sorts) are safe from the giant jaws and paws of your giant pup!

Crate training is also a helpful tool in potty training your pup. Dogs instinctually prefer not to soil their bed and so are inclined to wait until you can let them out to do their business. A basic rule for length of time a puppy can wait to go bathroom is an hour for every month they are old. Four months is usually the break through period for puppies, as 16 weeks is the time when they finally begin to gain more control of their muscles.

A few things to remember when purchasing a crate (which can be a couple of hundred dollars for an adult Dane). If you buy the extra large crate to begin with, your puppy will probably use one end as the bathroom and sleep on the other end, thus complicating potty training. But Danes grow so quickly that buying a new crate every couple of months is unrealistic as well. A simple compromise would be to put a divider inside the extra large crate that can be adjusted as the puppy grows to allow him/her only enough room to sleep and turn around comfortably.

Do you have any advice on potty training?

Training your puppy to go to the bathroom outdoors may seem like a daunting task, but with some time and patience, you shouldn't have any trouble. The most important aspect of training is consistency.

Crate training makes the housetraining job much easier. Confining your puppy to a crate while you are not around will not only protect him from hazards in the house, but will also help him learn to hold his urine and bowel movements. You must be reasonable about your expectations for your puppy, however. A young puppy can't stay in a crate for 10 hours a day while everyone is away at work. Very young puppies need to go outside every 2 to 3 hours. Plan accordingly.

You can start training your puppy from day one. Positive reinforcement is the key to the training process. Most puppies are motivated by food, so using some small treats or even some pieces of puppy food works really well. Take your puppy outside, set him where you would like him to go to the bathroom, and when he goes, act like it is the greatest thing you have ever seen. Praise him and give him a treat. Every time he goes to the bathroom outside, do this.

Anytime a puppy eats something, he will need to go outside. Don't let your puppy nibble on a bowl of food all day long, you will find the housetraining process extremely discouraging. Feed meals (2-4 per day) so that you can take your puppy out after every meal.

Most puppies are easy to housetrain, but have a small lapse in training around 12-14 weeks. If your puppy is doing really well and suddenly has a few accidents for a day or two, don't worry. Things should get back to normal right away. If the problem persists, there could be a medical problem. Puppies can develop bladder infections. If your puppy is extremely difficult to train or was trained previously and is now having accidents, talk with your veterinarian.

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