One of the most common questions that new dog owners have is how soon they can start crate training with their dog. The truth is, when it comes to any training, the earlier you start the better! Let’s take a closer look at crate training from a young age.
Starting Crate Training From Day One
When you buy a new puppy, you are best advised to bring them home at around 8 to 10 weeks old. In the first 8 weeks, the mother will do the initial training and the pup will learn the basics of being a dog along with canine communication, bite inhibition and accepting discipline. This is why it is important not to take a dog from the mother too early as it would miss out on essential elements of its development.
Once you have your dog at home, you need to continue the training from where the mother left off. The old saying ‘start as you mean to go on’ holds true here. Puppies may not be able to take care of themselves very well, but they are incredibly observant and intelligent. They will be learning from you every moment of the day! It is best to take advantage of this from the beginning and start showing your puppy what you expect of them.
This is why it’s also the best time to get started with crate training. Your puppy has no preconceived or learned ideas of what the world and life is like, so you have the best opportunity right now to teach them spending time in a crate isn’t only normal, but can be a happy and fun time too. All before they have a chance to learn otherwise.
Start Small and Build Up
Puppies should not and cannot be left in a crate all day while you are at work, but there is no reason why you cannot crate train them in small sessions during the day and sleep them in their crate during the night.
A very young puppy has little bladder control so you cannot keep them in a crate for extended periods. So until they are 9 or 10 weeks old, only crate them for 30 minutes to 1 hour max, and always after they have already been to the toilet so they will be able to keep themselves clean.
Once they can comfortably last close to one hour you can then gradually introduce crating the pup when you have to go out during the day for short periods. This way, during short trips to the grocery store, or when running the kids to school, you can be sure your puppy stays clean and you won’t come home to find the remains of destructive chewing.
Why Start Crate Training So Young?
The main benefits for you starting crate training right away is making house training so much quicker and easier, and preventing your puppy forming bad habits when left alone.
Puppies have a natural instinct to keep their den – the area they sleep in – clean and free from their own mess. They will not toilet there. You take advantage of this by sleeping your puppy in the crate, they will not toilet there and cannot wander off to potty in your home while you think they are sleeping. This dramatically speeds up house training.
Secondly, puppies have a tendency to explore the world with their teeth, chewing and mouthing at anything in their environment. Fun for them but expensive for you! And if they get away with it and find it fun, it can form into a habit of destructive chewing that is hard to break later in life.
You will find the chances of them developing bad chewing habits are almost completely removed if you crate them when you aren’t able to watch and stop them if necessary. Allow free time out of the crate when you can supervise them, pop them in the crate when you’re busy and unseen opportunities for destructive chewing is removed.
So you will find that crate training is going to make house breaking so much easier and can also cut down on destructive chewing.
Not Just Puppies, Start Crate Training Older Dogs As Soon As You Can
Of course, not everyone gets a puppy. The good news is you can still crate train your new canine companion if it is an older dog.
Often we do not know much about the history of our new dog, especially if they have come from a rescue centre, so it is best just to get started right away with training and figure out how much he already knows.
Crate training works equally well with older dogs, since it works with their natural instincts. As previously discussed, dogs are den animals and they prefer not to soil where they sleep which is why crate training works so well. If you are to bring home a new adult dog then go ahead and start crate training straight away just like you would with a pup.
What About The ‘6 Month Rule’?
You may have heard something about the six month rule in relation to dog training, being something that a handful of dog trainers subscribe to. It states that you should not start training until the dog is 6 months old, so they have time to be a puppy first. However, 6 months is a long time for unwanted behaviours to become bad habits.
This school of thought is pretty old fashioned and comes from a time when correction collars and choke chains were the norm. This meant that dogs had to be old enough to withstand these harsh tactics – most people agreed it was too much for a puppy to endure. Nowadays most trainers and owners opt for more gentle, positive, force and punishment free forms of training. Therefore you can pretty much disregard the 6 month rule and start crate training as soon as you bring your new dog home.
Hopefully the information in this article puts your mind at rest about how soon you can start to crate train your dog. It really is a case of ‘the sooner, the better’ so do not delay. You should get started on the first day your dog or puppy comes home so you and your pooch will start to see and enjoy the results as soon as possible.
Wendy lives in Bedfordshire, UK, where she enjoys spending her free time contributing to pet related websites of all kinds, frequently writing about dogs, cats and aquarium care. A true pet lover who likes to share what she knows in the hope of helping people and animals live harmoniously together.