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Crate Training 101

Discussion in 'Sheltie Training' started by Lahree, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. Lahree

    Lahree Forums Enthusiast

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    Dec 15, 2008
    North Texas
    OK, I have some questions. I have read about three behavioral books--two of them specifically on Shelties, but I am still a tad bit confused.

    We have set up Ellie's training crate and it is waiting for her in the bedroom, with her soft bed and toys. It is specifically a wire training crate so it has a moveable partition to move to accomodate her growth. I understand the words "you want it to be "big enough" but not "too big" for the dog" but what the heck does that mean exactly? The idea I get from the books is that dogs are clean by nature and do not want to soil their own den. I also am understanding from the books is that if you have the crate area too large the puppy can eliminate and avoid its own mess and that it would give her the idea that it is ok to go wee in her crate? Yet, if it is too small and she has no room to avoid her own wee or poop she would have no choice but to lay in the mess and that seems really cruel (and stinky!). It's not her fault she can't control her functions at 8 and a half weeks. So, I guess what I am saying is, I don't get it. :no: :confused2: How big is too big? I saw "piddle pads" at the pet store and although the name is quite self-explanitory, I am not sure what circumstances they are used.

    Also--The first few nights we bring her home, I am totally expecting her crying in the crate and I am bracing myself for the "break your heart but ignore it" phase. However, how do I know she is not whining to go wee like in the middle of the night? If she is crying because she is lonely or upset and I open the crate and pick her up to take her outside, have I not just rewarded her for whining if she is NOT whining because she has to go potty? Am I over-thinking this?

    Part three of my obessive thoughts-- I work days and my DH is a musician who has gigs at night, so there will be someone with Ellie almost every minute of the day and night. However, our schedles are so different! I go to bed at 9 every night and DH stays up every night until at least 2 am (even when he doesn't have a gig because his sleep cycle is set up that way). Should we pick one schedule or another to "program" Ellie to? In other words, if I put Ellie to bed when I go to bed (her crate is our bedroom), my husband is still going to be up and moving around the house and being on the copmuter and watching TV, etc. He gets up late in the morning because he goes to sleep so late. So, should I just choose my schedule and get Ellie used to that? Put her to bed when I go to bed, take her out when I get up, etc.? Richard will be feeding her of course during the day and taking her out frequently for potty breaks, etc. and I will feed her her second feeding in the evening. I get home at 4 in the afternoon so during the weekdays, I get a lot of time with her before we would go to bed.

    Clarification would really be appreciated. It's been 15 years since I had a puppy and I've never had one this young.

    Signed,
    Obessive Worrier :razz:
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2009
  2. GeeRome

    GeeRome Forums Enthusiast

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    Aug 12, 2008
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    I understand the words "you want it to be "big enough" but not "too big" for the dog" but what the heck does that mean exactly? The idea I get from the books is that dogs are clean by nature and do not want to soil their own den. I also am understanding from the books is that if you have the crate area too large the puppy can eliminate and avoid its own mess and that it would give her the idea that it is ok to go wee in her crate? Yet, if it is too small and she has no room to avoid her own wee or poop she would have no choice but to lay in the mess and that seems really cruel (and stinky!). It's not her fault she can't control her functions at 8 and a half weeks. So, I guess what I am saying is, I don't get it. :no: :confused2: How big is too big?

    It should be big enough for her to lay down, stand up, and turn around. Dogs are naturally clean beasties, like you have read. And they will avoid soiling their crate as much as they can. That said, you should not push her too far too fast because, if she has to go, she will go. The crate being small-ish will encourage her to hold it instead of just going at will. But you still need to take her outside every couple of hours in the middle of the night and when she is crated during the day. If she is not crated, then she should be going outside every half hour or so, but if she is sleeping then every couple of hours is fine.

    I saw "piddle pads" at the pet store and although the name is quite self-explanitory, I am not sure what circumstances they are used.

    Piddle pads are generally used when people are not training their dogs to go outside, but want them to go on the pads instead. If you are wanting to train her to go pee only outside, then do not use the pads as it is just confusing to her.

    Also--The first few nights we bring her home, I am totally expecting her crying in the crate and I am bracing myself for the "break your heart but ignore it" phase. However, how do I know she is not whining to go wee like in the middle of the night? If she is crying because she is lonely or upset and I open the crate and pick her up to take her outside, have I not just rewarded her for whining if she is NOT whining because she has to go potty? Am I over-thinking this?

    Start making a routine where you go out at a certain time of night, maybe 1-2 times during the night at this age. If, during the night, she whines and you think she might need out, take her out of the crate, go right outside, and then straight back to the crate. No playing or cuddles or other "fun" stuff. Coming out of the crate at night is only for the purpose of going pee. Even if she doesn't need to go, go through the motions of going outside, waiting for a bit, going back in and straight back to the crate.

    So, should I just choose my schedule and get Ellie used to that? Put her to bed when I go to bed, take her out when I get up, etc.?

    A routine is very helpful, especially for puppy training! As she ages, the routine can become a bit lax, but for now, stick to a routine. Same time to bed, same time for meals, same time for potty, walks, etc. Once she is completely house trained and settled in, then she can start staying up nights with the hubby if she so chooses. :lol:
     
  3. Lahree

    Lahree Forums Enthusiast

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    You absolutely ROCK! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I get it now! Hooray!

    At what age do they generally sleep 8 hours? I am sure it is different with each dog, but a ballpark idea would be great.
     
  4. BarbV

    BarbV Premium Member

    I don't think I could have said it better!

    The one thing you might ask your breeder is before your bring her home is whether or not she started the crate training already. I was blessed with Bacca in that my breeder had already segregated Bacca into his own sleep space for a couple of nights before I even brought him home!

    The very first night he slept through until 5 a.m. no fuss, no mess! I think the fact that he had started to be crate trained in his OWN home, before I brought him to a NEW home, made the world of difference.
     
  5. Lahree

    Lahree Forums Enthusiast

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    I will ask my breeder that very question. She has been so good with the socialization of Ellie and her siblings. The breeder has been very ill lately and was unable to get Ellie's 7 week photos taken, however, :cry: (I'm not heartless, by the way, the poor woman is sick--but just sad I didn't get to see an updated baby picture).
     
  6. BarbV

    BarbV Premium Member

    I'm so excited for you! It's like in about 2 or 3 days that you bring her home, yes!?

    I envy you getting a new baby! As much as I love bringing home 9 month Indy and having him fit in so quick, it would have been lovely to have another infant...

    But I'm a menopausal woman, so what do you expect?! :rolleyes2::smile2:
     
  7. Lahree

    Lahree Forums Enthusiast

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    North Texas
    I wish it was in two or three days--it'll be Wednesday of next week--the 21st I believe? It is a 5 - 5 1/2 hour drive, so what we will do it make the drive down and go see the breeder and all the pups and meet Ellie and then stay overnight in a hotel and then go back to the breeder the next morning and pick Ellie up and drive back. 10- 11 hours of driving in one day would be waaaaaaaaay too much for us. It's going to be exhausting as it is.

    I'm also a menopausal woman--so--there ya go. (Too much information, lol?).
     
  8. Whooo

    Whooo Forums Regular

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    Jan 12, 2009
    I can imagine how you feel, I hardly sleep few days before we took the pup. Can help it.

    And I think its nice of you to have so much information before the pup arrived. Unlike me, well I always thought, crate training seems simple but now I realize its not that simple.

    The last three nights, I used to take my pup play a bit after take him put for pee, I thought it would be some reward for peeing outside. Silly me.
     
  9. TaraLynn

    TaraLynn Forums Enthusiast

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    My 2 Cents!

    Alright, so - because everyone has their own way of doing things, I figured I would help out by sharing what I did!! :smile2:

    So, as for the crate training...it did take a night or two where Caliber whinned here and there...partly because I didn't put the crate where I slept. Another part because he needed to go potty.

    Anytime he would fall asleep, whether it be the floor, my foot...anywhere, I would gently pick Caliber up, place him in his crate, give him a little scratch behind the ear(he loves that!), and close the crate door. This will teach them that this is THEIR place, and that it's ok, and safe to be in their crate. Once he woke up and would whine, I would just wait until he stopped for about 5-10 seconds, THEN I let him out.

    You obviouslly want her to let you know that she needs to go potty, but you don't want to reinforce the behaviour of "when I whine I get out right away" This way she will know that she can't get what she wants when she whimpers and whines, but instead, to use it as a signal and wait until Mommy is ready. I found that this taught him patients quickly. Make sure your hubby agrees to this as well, as this will confuse poor Ellie.

    The general "rule of thumb" is that the crate should only be big enough for the puppy to stand up, turn around, and lay down without being cramped. I have the same type pf crate, with the adjustable piece, and for me it took a couple adjustments before it worked for Caliber. Accidents may or may not happen in the first few nights even in a very small confined crate area, but if they do, of course, be sure not to punish her, as I'm SURE you already know! Just be sure to have a few spare towels/blankets to clean up quick and place her back in once you're done going potty.

    Some people mentioned that "piddle pads" would confuse them, and I can see how they could...But I always made sure to have one by the door just in case he had the emergency urge to go, and if I caught him I could scoops him up, give a polite "Whooops!!" and have him finish on his pad. Also, I live on the top floor of a fourplex, so making it down the steps with a piddling puppy in my hands meant having to clean up a long line of tinkle through the kitchen, doooooown the steps, in the hallway, and out the door, and that was just not something I looked forward to doing lol(ok, so maybe I sound a bit lazy - but a puppy IS hard work!) Regardless of any of that - once I ran out of the pee pads and he noticed they weren't there - THAT'S when he started whinning to go out, which in turn worked out in my favor, because after only a short couple months, he was fully housebroken.

    As GeeRome mention - YES!! It is a good idea to get her on a set and steady schedule. Whether it be yours or your hubby's, it IS a good idea. Even working with both of your schedules!! Mine and my b/f schedule sound a lot like you and your hubby's schedule. He works A LOT of nights and generally doesn't get home until 2-3am, so I put Caliber on my schedule, because it was just more convenient for me. I figured - I'll be putting most - if not ALL the work into the pup, so he'll work with me. :smile2: But it's a good idea to work on it together! Maybe have your hubby take her out once he get's home. If she's anything like Caliber, or any puppy, for that matter, she will wake up once they know someone is home, and I found that Caliber usually went potty after every single nap. See if you can both sit down a make a rough schedule for when she comes home...then once she is home you'll notice what works and what doesn't! Good luck, and I hope this helped you a bit more!!

    Sorry for the long long post, but I could totally relate to all of your concerns. Had I found this forum BEFORE Caliber came home, I wouldn't have had to go strictly on trial-and-error!! But hey! In less then a week, Caliber will be 6 months old, and accident free for MONTHS! And knows his patients very well!
     
  10. BarbV

    BarbV Premium Member

    Here's a couple of websites that I used as reference.

    http://delawarepuppyrescue.rescuegroups.org/info/display?PageID=452

    http://www.dog-obedience-training-review.com/puppy-crate-training.html


    A few important things to remember:

    - the crate should never be used for punishment.
    - until the are house-trained, the crate should only be big enough for them to stand up, turn around and lay down flat. Many crates have partitions. In my case, I bought a soft-sided crate that was easily transportable up and down the stairs, into the car and on the boat to the cottage. So for a little while, I stuffed a box covered with a towel in the back.
    - you need to teach your pup that the crate is a HAVEN! Noone will bug him there as long as he is in his crate. This is HIS place.
    - make sure you leave him safe toys to chew on if he wakes up and gets bored. It won't need them much because in reality most dogs sleep 80% of the day - even if outside a crate!
    - don't rush to take him outside the minute he whimpers. If the crate is the right size, most pups will avoid soiling their beds. You really do need to train them to hold if for longer and longer periods of time. So let him whimper and wait. If he whimpers again, give him a verbal Shhh! so that he know that you are there. Wait some more. If he still whimpers, resign yourself to a midnight pee, take him out, tell him to "be quick" or "go potty" . When he goes, praise and treat him right away and then back to bed. No playing.
    - if he doesn't go within a couple of minutes of taking him outside, then back to bed. Nice pat, then in you go! You might have to repeat the last couple of steps until he finally decides to pee. Don't forget the treat and praise.!

    Also, you will have accidents outside the crate. Be matter of fact about it. If you catch the pup in the act, then a sharp "Aaah", scoop him up and try to have him finish outside. If he does finish outside, then treat and praise. If he doesn't finish, then ignore. You don't want to give any positive or negative attention at this point. Clean up the spot with a potent cleaner.

    Hope this helps!
     

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