Crate Training

So you survived the first night with your pup. If you’ve decided to crate train your pup like me, odds are you didn’t sleep very well. Loki barked on and off for the majority of the night. It is important to remember your dog has most likely never slept alone, and he or she is in a new place. The most important consideration with regards to crate training is to NOT give in to his barking. If you give up in the middle of the night and let him out, he has learned if he persists long enough, he will get his way. If you stay consistent and leave him in there each night, he should slowly lessen his barking and accept he is in there until the morning.

Originally, we wanted to crate Loki in our living room. However, during these first few days the barking was so loud it was waking up our kids and we had to change our plans. Loki’s crate is now setup in a nearby bathroom. This actually turned out to be a great idea. We can close the door to reduce the noise, turn on the bathroom fan to add some white-noise for him, and it’s very close to where we want him to end up sleeping when out of the crate. Another idea to help with crate training, is to randomly leave treats inside the crate during the day. If your dog is exploring and finds his way in there on his own he will start to associate the crate with something other than jail. For Loki, it was the fourth night where he gave up barking significantly sooner, and the sixth night where I had to wake him up to take him out of the crate.

How to condition your dog
Loki super unimpressed about our crate training.

Quick Tip: Make sure the crate is just large enough for your pup to turn around – too large and he will go to the bathroom inside. Also if you add an old shirt with his towel/blanket it can help him with separation anxiety.

House Breaking

This can be an easy process or a difficult one, it is up to you. Although your pup can walk around and interact with you, you need to treat him like a baby. He hasn’t yet gained complete control of his bladder. Help him learn by giving him every opportunity to use the bathroom where you want him to. There are three major times where your pup is at an increased risk of having an accident: after eating, while excited (playing, new visitor, etc.), and after sleeping. In each of these instances you should take your pup outside and wait until he empties out.

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When I first got Loki I made sure that I had a few days off work to stay with him and help him in his transition. One of the things I did was watch him until he was about to go to the bathroom inside. As he prepared to use the bathroom I made a firm correct (remember voice tones), and immediately took him outside to empty out. Once he finished outside, I praised him up and gave him a lot of affection. Praise is key here and he needs to want to go outside to earn affection. Remember, he needs your help at the beginning to know what he should or shouldn’t do. It can be frustrating when your pup has an accident but unless it happened right in front of you, there is no point trying to make a correction. Your pup cannot make the connection to something he did hours ago and your present disappointment with him.

Quick Tip: Pick up all water sources 1-2 hours before you put your pup down for the night. When you first take him out of his crate, pick him up and carry him directly outside to his bathroom area.

Chewing

There is no way to stop a pup from chewing, it’s going to happen. What we can do is lessen the impact to our gear we really care about. First, make sure you have an ample amount of chew toys for your pup, and know where they are. If you see your pup chewing on something you don’t want him to, make the correction and immediately give him one of his toys. Repeat this process every time you see him chewing on something and eventually he will understand.

Help him stay out of trouble by keeping a clean house and putting your things away. Yes it is wrong for him to chew your shoes, but why didn’t you put them away? Another preventative measure is to never make toys from old shoes, socks or anything you wouldn’t want chewed if new. Your pup will not know the difference between the old thing and the new thing and will think all instances of it are acceptable to chew on.

Quick Tip: He needs something to chew, if you won’t provide it, he will find it.

Traveling

After your pup has settled in, start taking him with you whenever possible. Since I am crate training Loki I also use the crate for travel. I have a Pick-up truck with a canopy that has venting side windows. I secure his crate in the back and he is all set for travel. Be responsible when taking your dog with you. Look for shaded areas, put the windows down, have source of water, and limit the time you leave him unattended.

How to Condition Your Dog
Loki’s relaxing place where the kids won’t bug him and he can rest. He brought his chew toys with him.

Short trips around town are perfect for socialization and some modular training. Every new adult, kid or dog he meets helps shape his future temperament. Each time I place Loki into his crate I give the Kennel command, and place him inside. When I take him out of the crate I give the come command. In both instances I praise him immediately after he complies. As with all things involving your pup, consistency is paramount. Don’t say come today, and here tomorrow, it will confuse the pup.

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Quick Tip: Place a treat inside the crate before bringing your pup over. He will be much more eager to go inside.

Consistency, personal responsibility, control, quality equipment, and voice tones are going to be the pillars on which you build your pups behavior. Come back next time to learn more household conditioning, and the whoa command.

Need to catch up on the series? Click here for the previous article.