For years, using a crate has been perceived by some as a cruel way to treat a dog. Many are under the impression that everyone who uses a crate for their dog simply leaves them in a cage for untold hours. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, when used properly, your pup will come to see his crate more along the lines of his den and be happy to spend time there. Bear in mind, not all labs respond to a crate in the same way. Some might walk right in and make themselves at home, while it's going to take a little extra work for some to be comfortable.
The big thing is to take your time and to give your dog plenty of time to become comfortable with his new "den". This way you should not have a problem leaving your pup in his crate during the day while you are at work or at night while you are sleeping as needed.
For a dog in the wild, his den is his safe place, somewhere he goes to be secure and comfortable. He will raise his family in his den, rest in it, and bring his pack into it for safety when needed. Your pup will draw on this natural instinct and come to see the crate in much the same way if you take your time and follow through on his training. The most important part of the training process is to do your best to help your pup to see his new crate as his den. The more comfortable you make it for him, the more likely he will be to enjoy going in it.
Crate training starts out with buying the right size crate. Since your pup is going to eventually grow into a full-size Lab, you might be tempted to buy an adult-size crate for him. This might work if you are able to put a partition or temporary wall in it to make it smaller to start out. If not, you should start out with a crate that fits your pup. This will help make things go easier. Along with this, you need a few things:
Since you are training your dog to stay in a crate with the door locked, which is something he may not like at first, be ready to take your time. All good things come to those who are patient.
We just got Navy a few days ago and she seems to really like her crate! Every time we go outside in the backyard and she goes to the bathroom, I give her a treat and she is quickly catching on. The struggle is the night time ... she starts whinning every 2-3 hours and we let her out to pee but sometimes, she doesn't even have to, she just wants us to hold her while she sleeps lol. We want to establish a routine with her but also want to make sure we aren't attending her neediness all the time in case this becomes an issue when she is older. Does the below schedule seem okay? If we start enforcing it and ignoring her when she cries? Thank you!!!
- 5:30/6:00 am - wake up, water, outside
- 6:30 - crate
- 8:30 - outside, food and water
- 9:30 - 12:30- crate
- 12:30-1:30- water, food, outside
- 1:30-4:30 - crate
- 4:30 -5:30 - water, outside
- 6:00 - water, food
- 6:30 - 9:30 - play and bathroom breaks ever hour
- no water past 7pm
- 10pm - bedtime
- 1/2 am - bathroom break
Hello Hillary, I do recommend something very similar to what you mentioned - sticking to a schedule, ignoring crying at night at non-potty times, and crating pup after a bit of freedom right after going potty, until it's time to go potty outside again; the main difference is that a puppy can generally only hold their bladder during the day for the number of months they are in age plus one - and that is a maximum time, not ideal training time. With that said I would adjust the schedule to provide more frequent potty breaks during the day. If pup stays asleep for longer at night, they will be able to hold it for longer (but not all night yet) but once they are awake, daytime maximum times apply. - 5:30/6:00 am - wake up, water, outside - 6:30 - crate - 7:30 - outside, food and water - 8:30 - 9:30- crate - 9:30 - water, outside, free time - 10:30 - 11:30 - crate - 11:30 - water, outside, free time - 12:00 - 12:30 - food, water - 12:30 - 1:00- outside again to poop (wait 15-30 minutes after eating for poop potty break but keep careful eye on pup during that time) - 1:30 - 2:30 - crate - 2:30 - water, outside, free time - 3:30 - 4:30 - crate - 4:30 - 5:30 - water, outside, free time - 6:00 - water, food - 6:30 - 7:00 - outside - 7:00 - 10:00 - play and bathroom breaks ever hour - no water past 7pm - 10pm - bedtime - 1am - bathroom break - if pup wakes and cries then or after that point. Don't wake them unless they are having accidents when you don't. Ignore crying before it's been 3 hours since the last potty trip. Keep potty trips boring and calm - no treats, play, and minimize talk. Take pup on a leash, keep it focused, then straight back to bed. Potty trips at night should be boring so pup begins to sleep through them when their bladder capacity increases. After the potty trip, crate pup and ignore any crying that takes places before it has been 3 hours since the last potty trip. Also, free time simply means time they don't have to be crated. What that looks like will depend on your schedule. You can play, train pup, let them play alone but keep an eye on them nearby, have pup play by themself in an exercise pen, or tether pup to yourself with a hands free leash. It's simply the time when their bladder is empty and they can be out of the crate. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?