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Potty Talk

Lets talk about Housetraining and Crate Training

Introduction to Housetraining

Housetraining isn't a difficult task, but it doesn't happen overnight! You must be patient and consistent in applying the housetraining method you have choosen. The more disciplined you are, the sooner your puppy or dog will be trained. Conversely, every mistake you make sets your dog's learning back a few steps, and inconsistencies in training simply confuse a dog.

Housetraining Problems


The age of a puppy determines how much control it has over its bladder. Very young puppies (under three months of age) don't have the sphincter muscle control that adult dogs or even older puppies do. Without this control, a puppy is likely to have an accident at any time - especially when it gets excited. Between the ages of four and six months, a puppy should begin to gain some of the control necessary to wait at least a short time before it needs to go outside. Therefore, you need to keep a close eye on your puppy all the time, watching for those times when the puppy has to go.

In addition, you should recognize that puppies need to eliminate as often as 8 to 10 times a day. Every time puppies receive some sort of stimulation, they'll automatically need to eliminate. Therefore, as soon as they've been patted, played with, or otherwise excited, they're going to need a trip outside to answer the call of nature. Some breeds, no matter what their age, are excitable and feel the need to urinate as soon as they become excited.

Small Dogs

Small dogs, such as toy breeds, present their own housetraining problems for a number of reasons. They quickly lose body heat, making them vulnerable to cold weather. Therefore, they're reluctant to go out in cold weather, and they shouldn't be kept out too long. Small dogs also have small bladders, so they have to eliminate more often than larger dogs.

Small dogs also develop at a different rate than large dogs and, therefore, may take longer to train.

Adult Dogs

If you have an older dog that has a housetraining problem, first determine whether the problem is the result of a physical ailment. The dog could have a urinary tract infection or parasites. Therefore, the first order of business is to have a veterinarian establish that the dog is healthy. Once that has been determined, you can begin working to resolve the problem.

Housetraining Doesn't Come Naturally

Puppies are not born understanding what humans say to or yell at them. Most of us would not expect an infant to understand us, yet we expect a puppy to comprehend language, desire and direction. Communication simply doesn't arrive with birth. It develops over time.

We all want our new puppy to be housetrained as quickly as possible. However, while you are trying to teach the puppy this important job, the puppy is also trying to learn many other new things. It has just entered a completely new environment with new people and it may be confused at first,

Consistency is key for both you and your puppy. In fact, consistency is really the key to all training. Without consistency and a positive attitude, a dog or puppy can become confused. To maintain consistency, someone must be with the puppy to reinforce the training. Otherwise, the puppy has no other choice but to soil inside the house.

While there are different approaches to housetraining, for the purpose of this blog post, we are going to focus on Crate Training, as that is the method supported by Big Rock Labradoodles.


What is Crate Training?

A crate is a type of enclosure with four sides, a top and a floor. On one of the sides is a door by which the dog can enter and leave the crate. The purpose of crate training is to accustom a dog to its crate so the crate can be used for any of a variety of different purposes. For example, a crate can be used to:

  • Transport a pet in a car, a plan or other vehicle

  • Contain a pet in a hotel room to prevent it from doing any damage to the room

  • Serve as a type of a doghouse or den for a puppy or dog

  • Protect a puppy or dog from dangerous household items, such as electrical cords, cleaning supplies, medications and so on

  • Prevent a puppy or dog from damaging furniture, clothing, shoes, and other items around the home

  • Reduce the anxiety a dog feels when it's owner isn't home

  • Housetrain a dog

The Concept Behind Crate Training

It's important to understand, a crate is not meant for punishment or confinement. Rather, it provides a safe and private place for a dog within the home.

You must understand that dogs have a den instinct and therefore enjoy a closed-in, secure area. From a dog's perspective, a crate is a good thing! A dog sees the crate as its own special room - its own den. Often a crate becomes something like a security blanket for the dog. Because dogs are considered den animals, they seek comfort, safety and security in den-like areas.

In addition to serving as a safe, secure place for a dog, a crate can be used as a housetraining tool. In fact, crate training has become a popular and effective method of training a dog not to soil in the house. It's effective because it begins with a concept a dog or puppy understands - that is, a dog doesn't "mess" where it eats or sleeps. The crate serves as dog's den, so thereoretically, it won't soil in the crate. If a dog can control itself in its crate, then you can use the this ability to extend the control to the entire house.

One of the only times crate training is problematic is if the dog or puppy was kept in a crate before it was purchased by the owner. If the dog was confined to a crate for extended periods, then it would have no choice but to soil in the crate. Using a crate with such a puppy may take longer than usual. (Pet Stores, Puppy Mills and Backyard Breeders would all employ this type of overuse of a crate or confined space).

Crate training is a fairly speedy process, depending on the age of the puppy or dog, and its easy - as long as the owner is committed to the training.

A crate should also be a safe place for a dog to go and remain undisturbed. You must instruct children not to bother a dog or puppy when it goes into its crate. This is where it can nap, rest and have some privacy.


Never use a crate to punish a puppy or dog. The dog begins to associate the crate with negative things and may even become afraid of it.

Crate Location

When choosing the best place for your dog's crate, consider the following:

  • Place the crate in a quiet corner of a room.

  • Select a room in which the family spends most of its time. The crate should be in an area where the puppy or dog can see everyone, but it should't be in the way of family members who have to move from room to room. (When a dog is in its crate, family members shouldn't bug or disturb the animal, but they should occasionally interact with it. The purpose of the crate is to temporarily confine a puppy without isolating it.)

  • Select a location that' free of drafts and not too close to a source of direct heat.

  • At night, move the crate into a bedroom used by a primary family member. Then, if the puppy needs to go out during the night, someone will hear it.

Ultimately, a dog should always be able to use its crate as a safe haven. The door should be left open so that the dog can come and go as it pleases. Sometimes,a crate simply provides a nice, safe, comfortable vantage point from which the dog can view what's going on around it.

Choosing a Crate

Crates come in a variety of types, sizes and qualities. The two most common types are closed crates and wire crates. Closed crates are the type preferred for airline travel. Some models of closed crates advertise that they're "airline approved." For use in the home, wire crates are preferable. They're more open and airy than closed crates, and they allow a puppy to see out easily in the surrounding area. They are also very easy to clean. If desired, the den-like effect of a closed crate can be achieved by putting a blanket over a wire crate. Most wire crates come with a removable pan that serves as the floor in the crate. Wire crates are also collapsible so you can easily transport them in the tuck of your car, or move them from room to room.

Ideally, you should purchase a crate that will be large enough for the dog when it's fully grown. In order to accomplish this, you would choose a wire crate with a divider.

While in it's crate, a dog should have enough room to turn around in it's crate, the crate should not be so large that the dog has enough room to eliminate in one end of the crate and sleep in the other. As puppy grows, you can continue to expand the area inside the crate by moving the divider back.

The Method

Crate training is more than just housetraining. In crate training, a puppy is learning to use the crate as its own special place. When you are out of the house, the puppy can be confined to its crate to keep it safe and to prevent it from destroying household furnishings. However, crate training is also an effective houstraining tool. When used for housetraining, the purpose of crate training is to keep a dog from soiling when it's confined to its crate. Then when it released from the crate and taken to a designated spot, it will need to eliminate.

Here's a crate training method you can use:

1. Select the room or area in which you plan to keep your puppy. Puppies shouldn't be allowed free run of a house until they're reliably housetrained. A baby gate will confine a puppy, yet allow it to see into other areas of the house so it won't feel alone. (Note: Whenever you allow an untrained puppy or dog in an area of the house away from its crate, carefully supervise the pet to prevent any accidents.)

2. In the crate, place a toy or two, a treat, and some soft, washable bedding. If you prefer, line the crate with a carpet remnant.

3. Let the puppy explore outside the crate for a while. If it goes in, give it lots of praise. If the puppy doesn't go in on its own accord, you may pick it up and gently set it inside the crate, or put the treats at the far end of the crate so it has to go in to get them.

4. After it's been in and out of the crate a few times, close the door when it's inside and leave it closed for a minute or two.

5. Gradually increase the time the puppy is in the crate. (Note: General rule of thumb is that puppy should not be contained in a crate for more than one hour beyond it's months of age. eg. a two month old puppy cannot be in a crate for more than 3 hours)

6. When you let the puppy out of the crate, immediately carry it outside to the place where you want it to eliminate. When the puppy goes, praise it and give it a treat, if you wish. (Note: Praise is probably the single most important part of housetraining!)

7. Put newspaper around the area outside the crate. This paper is NOT to train the dog. Don't reward your dog for using it. The paper is for your convenience only. It makes it easier to remove the urine when the dog has an accident outside the cage. The urine soaks into the paper. You can remove the paper and wash the floor underneath. Then recover the area with clean newspaper. When the dog begins to consistently urinate and defecate outside the crate, it' demonstrating that it associates the crate with being clean.


Clean up all accidents immediately with a cleanser that breaks down the enzymes in the urine. Even these products will leave some traces of the smell of urine. Humans may not be able to detect the odor, but dogs have no problem smelling it. Then they'll think that's the spot where they should eliminate again.

8. Take the puppy or dog out of the crate often. In this way, the puppy will learn to leave its crate to urinate or defecate. Remember to take the dog outside when it first comes out of its crate.


Before you put a puppy or dog into a crate, remove its collar, which may become caught on part of the crate.

Most puppies soon come to enjoy their crate - a special place of their own. Puppies purchased from responsible breeders will probably be used to a crate when they're first brought home. Other puppies, or many adult dogs, will have to be trained to accept the crate. Tossing a biscuit or a favorite treat into the crate should help to entice the puppy inside. You can even play a little game to get the puppy to enter the crate. Toss a treat inside and then say "Where's the cookie?" If the puppy goes into the crate to get the treat, give it plenty of praise. The puppy will soon learn to lie down, play with a toy, take a nap or eat in the crate. With soft bedding and a toy inside, as well as an open door, the crate should be very inviting to the puppy or dog. The puppy or dog will become accustomed to the crate and understand that it's a safe place, not some sort of banishment from the family.

Crate Training Tips

  • When accidents happen, clean them up as quickly as possible. Try to remove all trace of odor.

  • Don't use an ammonia-based product to clean up messes. The ammonia odor is similar to that of urine and Don't put a puppy in it's crate if (1) it's just had something to drink, (2) it hasn't just been outside to eliminate, or (3) you've just been playing with the puppy.may encourage the puppy to wet again in the spot.

  • Always take your puppy out to eliminate just before confining it to the crate.

  • Make sure your puppy has something to occupy itself when in the crate - a toy or a chew of some kind.

  • Never try to push or pull a puppy into a crate.

  • Above all, make crate training fun for the puppy.

Potential Problems

The catch with crate training occurs when you don't take the puppy or dog outside in a timely fashion and it is forced to soil its crate. This can result in a puppy or dog that learns to be dirty.

People who purchase dogs from pet shops or puppy mills often encounter this same problem. Thee dogs are generally raised in overcrowded cages and have no idea of what it means to be clean. They simply don't understand. From the moment they were born, often in filthy cages, these dogs have eaten in a dirty environment, slept in foul matter and eliminatd in filth. They've known nothing else in theri lives. Such dogs will continue to do as they'e always done.

Consequently, it will take extra time and patience to train them.

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