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A puppy crate is a self-contained environment used to confine a young dog. Puppy crates are often used as a house training tool or to contain a dog during travel. Provided the crate is not used as a punishment, most puppies and dogs will learn to enjoy spending quiet time in their “little room.”
Sometimes called a puppy kennel, dog crates are manufactured in various sizes to suit all breeds of puppies and dogs. The smallest puppy crates are for toy breeds and puppies weighing less than ten pounds (about 4.5 kg). The size of the crate is especially important when house training a pup. A crate that is too large may invite the dog to establish an area for sleeping and an area for elimination. It is best to follow manufacturer’s guidelines when purchasing a puppy crate.
Puppy crates generally range in price from $30 to $150 United States Dollars (USD) or more. The structure of a puppy crate is generally a box shape, with breathing holes along the sides and a latched gate across the entry opening. Most come with a detachable dish for water or food. A handle at the top of the crate provides a means of transporting the animal for short distances.
The stark interior of a puppy crate can be warmed up with the addition of a cozy kennel pad or bedding made of towels or blankets. A favorite toy that is impervious to chewing gives the puppy something to work on while confined. Fresh water should be made available at all times.
Puppy crate training, also called housebreaking, must be performed in stages and with much patience. Although crate training is based on dogs’ natural instinct to avoid soiling sleeping areas, puppies under four months have very little control over bladder and bowel functions. It is advisable to wait until a pup is at least nine weeks old before beginning crate training.
Start with short confinements of less than an hour at a time for the first two weeks. Between the ages of eleven and fourteen weeks, the puppy may remain in the crate for up to three hours at a time. Over the next few weeks, the length of crate confinement may be lengthened by an hour at a time, up to five hours. Except for overnight crating, a dog should never be confined to a kennel for longer than five to six hours.
Always allow the puppy to eliminate outdoors before confining. Puppies can be enticed to enter the crate by placing a treat inside and calling the pup. Never push or shove the pup into the crate.
If the puppy eliminates in the crate while confined, simply clean the area thoroughly with an odor neutralizer and replace the bedding without punishing the pup. Alternately, when the puppy eliminates in an appropriate outdoor area, lavish the dog with praise.