Crate Training a New Puppy
As many of us have probably learned, house training a new puppy can be a challenging and stressful time. What you have to realize is that learning these new lessons is sometimes hard for them as well. They instinctively want to learn and please their owner. I would like to share some tips on potty training/crate training.
First and foremost we have to understand that they are still very young and being left in a crate for 10 hours at a time is impossible for them. Their body is not capable of such a long period of time until they are 4-5 months old at least. So if you lock up your puppy and go to work thinking it will be fine until you get home, your more than likely going to have a nice messy surprise when you arrive back. Try to find a friend or family member who can go take the puppy outside at some point (more than once is ideal) or try to make it home on your lunch break at least. A 6-8 week old puppy should be taken out every 1-3 hours!
The training that comes during the 2-4 month age is very important for them to continue accident free. We have crate trained numerous puppies for ourselves and for customers and one of the biggest things I can stress is CONSISTENCY and POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT!!! Using the same commands and the same "potty" area every time you take the puppy out will also help them to understand quicker. When they take care of their business don't be shy about praising them!! That is a huge part of them learning that they did a good job.
Each time they are in the process of eliminating repeat numerous times a specific command like "potty" or a command of your choice. By doing this, when they get older you will say the "potty" command they will begin the process. Again, be sure to praise the puppy when he finishes!
Setting up a routine schedule for feeding times is just as important. Feeding times need to be just as consistent as any other part of training. 2-3 feedings per day for a limited time, which means giving them their food and allowing just 20 minutes to eat. They will eventually learn that when the food is given they need to eat now or it won't be there for them later. The puppy will need to be taken outside shortly after eating, usually half an hour to an hour later. DO NOT feed your puppy then put them in the crate and leave without being available to let them outside. You will have accidents to come back to when you return.
Make the crate a sanctuary for your puppy like his own private space. If you use the crate for punishing behavior they will shy away from entering it willingly. Associate favorable things with the crate, like the pups favorite chew toy or even throwing treats in for him to chase and come back out to you. Leave a surprise in the crate for them to find on their own like a different chew toy or treat.
Some pups can have what they call nervous wetting, which is they squat and urinate during the excitement of greeting you. This is not something you should punish them for!! This just means that they are a little sensitive and punishment will only make it worse. Most young puppies will grow out of this behavior.
Try to direct them away from problem areas! If they do have an accident somewhere in the house clean it thoroughly with a commercial product that will eliminate the odor. Then keep the pup away from those spots for at least a month if possible.
Please be patient with your new family member as they are learning. Harsh punishments will sometimes delay training and all that is needed for potty training is a startling reaction. You do not want your puppy to be afraid of you or learn that he cannot do his business in front of you. If the pup begins to eliminate inside a loud "NO" or stomp your foot on the floor will usually stop them and then you can immediately take them outside to finish the job.
There is always going to be mistakes in training but hopefully these tips can help you on the road to success in potty training/crate training. Expect a puppy to have accidents because as we all know no one is perfect and it takes time to learn.
-Kelly Olson Professional Gundog Breeder