The Importance of Crate Training During the Holidays
Puppies are born with the instinct to keep their bed (or den) clean and as soon as they can toddle, they will move away from their littermates to relieve themselves. It’s this instinct that allows a crate to be such a valuable tool when housetraining your puppy. In the crate, your puppy will learn to develop more control and not relieve himself as soon as he feels the slightest urge. The crate, though, can be much more than a housetraining tool. It can be your puppy (and dog’s) den, place of security, and more.
Puppies are going to get into trouble; after all, they don’t know the difference between your belongings and the toys you give them to destroy. They need to learn this. Curiosity isn’t just a trait of cats, either; puppies are always putting their nose into places it shouldn’t go.
By crate training your puppy and using it through puppyhood and on into adolescence (10 to 14 months) you can both keep your puppy safe and at the same time, help prevent problem behaviors from turning into habits. Then, when you can supervise him, he can be out of the crate and you can teach him to ignore the kitchen trash can, the roll of toilet paper, and your shoes.
Place of Security
Everyone needs a safe place. For you it might be your bedroom, your man cave, office, car, or even just your recliner. We all need a place where we can relax, think, and be undisturbed. Your puppy needs a place like this, too, and the crate serves this purpose well.
In his crate, he can relax, chew on a toy, take a nap, or just think about the things going on around him. When he goes in his crate, either at your urging or on his own, everyone should leave him alone. He doesn’t need faces peering at him or kids’ fingers poking through the door. Let him have some peace.
Make the crate accessible to him by having it in a room where he can go to it when he needs a safe spot. Leave the door open, too, for the same reason.
A Safe Place
Once your puppy (or dog) learns that the crate is a place of security, you can help him learn that it’s also a great place for him to go when he’s worried or anxious. When the household is too loud or busy (such as during a family get together or a party), take your puppy to his crate and give him a chew toy or a few treats.
During the holidays, these events happen frequently and although everyone may wish to meet your puppy, that doesn’t mean he needs to stay for the entire party. Let people say hi to him while you supervise to make sure he isn’t overwhelmed, then put him in his crate in a quiet area of the house. Give him a toy or chew and let him relax.
If the neighborhood is noisy, such as on Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve, put him in his crate in an interior room away from doors and windows and turn on some background music to help him stay calm and drown out the surrounding noise.
It’s Not a Storage Container
As useful as the crate can be, it’s not a storage container for your puppy. He can spend the night in the crate, and a few hours here and there during the day. But he cannot spend all night and all day in the crate. He needs time outside of the crate to bond with his family, learn the rules of the household, go for walks, play outside, and do all of the things that are important for puppies.
The same rules apply for adult dogs, too. Your dog may already know all of these puppy lessons, but he needs to spend time with you, go for walks, gets some exercise, and play with you.
So use the crate as needed but do so thoughtfully and respectfully.