Crating and House Training

Crate Training and House Training a Puppy

House training and crate training a puppy can be a daunting challenge, especially when bad weather hits. BUT fear not, with a few free puppy training tips, it can be a very manageable task!

Puppy kennel training is the most effective and humane way of house training a puppy. It is encouraged by many veterinarians and animal behaviorists alike. This is a foundation for the rest of your puppy’s training and can help them avoid fears like traveling (in a crate) or going to the vet’s office (in a crate).

Crate Training a Puppy

Puppy cratingThe den is a place of safety for puppies. In the wild pups will not soil their den. You can use this to your advantage when house training your puppy. Confining your puppy to a small space reduces the chance of her messing in her sleeping area. Puppy will likely want to use the potty area as soon as allowed out of the crate. Knowing when puppy wants to go potty allows YOU to choose the spot and allows you to reward her as well!

House Training a Puppy - Crate Introduction

You want to allow your puppy to learn to like the crate, so it’s best not to shove them in, throw them a few toys and walk away. Rather, allow them to explore the crate. When they step in, praise them, or put an interesting toy in the crate. You can even put the toys in first and close the door ahead of time. After smelling the peanut butter or treats in the toy your puppy will be begging you to open the door.

If you don’t like the idea of leaving your puppy alone, bring the crate to the room that you are in, or tie your puppy up to your belt and have them settle at your feet.

Check your crate inside and out for sharp edges or toys that may not be good for them to have while unattended. Don’t let the whining dog out until they settle and are calm. If you let them out when they whine, you will be at the beck and call for the rest of their life. Don’t worry, you have created a safe place in the crate. If they are pitching a fit, wait patiently for the calm.

Crate Training and House Breaking a Puppy

Den First

You need to create a den for your puppy. This is simply done by buying a crate, either wire or plastic for your puppy. If you choose a wire crate, having a blanket or towel draped around it will allow the puppy to feel secure and have a private place. It needs to be big enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around or about 1 ½ times the size of your puppy, without the tail.

Oftentimes, people will want to only buy one crate, for the adult size of their current puppy. This is okay, but you need to have a divider to make it the right size for your puppy. If the crate is too large, puppy will tend to use one end for a bed and the other for her potty.

Crate Entertainment

Crates are supposed to be a positive experience, so lining it with a little bed, mat or towel will make it cozy. The lining needs to be easy to clean but not easy to rip apart. Giving them a positive crating experience can be as simple as giving them their supper or by creating mental stimulation by serving them treats in a ball that drops the treats as they play with it, while in their crate. “Entertainment” with toys like Kong are great, as you can put a little peanut butter or stuff them with kibble to make them extra interesting for you puppy during crate time. A dog with a full belly is a happy dog, and they will associate that with the crating time.


The location of the crate is important. Remember, we want the puppy to settle, not to get agitated every time someone runs by. A quiet room or back entrance is a perfect place for them to have some down time.

Getting the Puppy from the Crate

When you get them from their crate, do it calmly. You don’t want to create a jumping crazed puppy after every nap. When placing puppy in a crate for quiet time or night time, it is absolutely detrimental to comfort puppy, pet puppy or let puppy out if they are whining or crying. The result is producing a whiny puppy that thinks that she needs to cry every time she wants to come out.

Crate Training a Puppy - Timing and Consistency is everything:

Confine your puppy to the crate every so often for small periods of time when you are at home. This will become a time where they will learn to settle. At the end of the settling time, take the puppy out to the designated spot to do their business.

If you are in the house and the puppy hasn’t had a quiet time, take your puppy out to “do their business” every hour. Several things need to be considered at this point:

  1. Use the same spot every time they need to eliminate. This will aid in house training your puppy by teaching them where (and where not ) to go potty.
  2. Use the same word every time while they eliminate, like “good potty”. This will teach them the command that they will need to know when you mean that it’s potty time.
  3. Prior to elimination, they need to know that this is not play time or walking time. They have a job to do. This is potty time and that’s all.
  4. After elimination, you can have a party! Praise your puppy, give them treats, affection, or stand on your head if you want! Just make sure they know that you were pleased!
  5. Don’t rush back inside. This may sound harsh, in Canadian winters, but wait just a moment before going back in, this will prevent them from holding it and then eliminating as they enter the house. Make sure they “do their business” outside. It often takes about 1 minute for them to urinate and another 2-3 minutes to defecate. Taking that time is certainly worth your while!

Refusing to Eliminate

If they refuse to go potty after an extended time outside, bring them back in and put them in their crate and try going potty again in about 30 minutes.

What About Accidents?

If you catch them in the act of elimination, rush them outdoors immediately. Then, if they “do their business” at the designated spot, praise them and go on. Don’t physically punish them or rub their nose in it, they won’t remember what they did wrong.

Clean up using commercial cleaners or white vinegar. Bleach and other ammonia based products tend to leave an odor similar to urine, which only encourages them to urinate indoors again.

Review and other helpful hints

  1. Routine is your best friend in house training your puppy.
  2. A regular deworming schedule is also helpful in making house training a puppy a success.
  3. Feeding on a schedule will allow you to take them out and know they will have to defecate on schedule as well.
  4. Take puppy out after every quiet time, nap time or night in the crate. This is a MUST!
  5. Accidents are generally due to lack of supervision. Make sure you know when the last time was that your puppy eliminated, so you can plan for the next elimination event.
  6. Soiled crates will create a huge set back. Set your oven timer or watch alarm and stay on track. Then it won’t be long before your puppy will tell YOU when she has to “do her business”.

Interesting Facts According to Dr. Ian Dunbar:

  • At 3 weeks puppies have a 45 min. bladder capacity.
  • At 8 weeks puppies have a 75 min. bladder capacity.
  • At 12 weeks puppies have a 90 min. bladder capacity.
  • At 18 weeks puppies have 120min. bladder capacity.