“Training our new puppy makes me feel hopelessly stressed.” These exact feelings were expressed to me with three different stay-at-home moms on the first puppy lesson – all in the last 2 weeks.
“I feel guilty putting my puppy in the crate when I’m home all day.”
Each one was stressed to the max cleaning up pee and/or poop in between home chores. “I go to empty the dishwasher and the puppy is on top of the open dishwasher door. I go to vacuum and the puppy is attacking the vacuum cleaner.” The list goes on.
One mom claimed that she works in limited “windows of time” all balanced with the kid’s school and activities schedule, grocery shopping and other errands – all to successfully manage the family household – and then there’s the puppy.
When asked, “When is your puppy crated?” They universally answered, “I crate our puppy at night and when I’m gone from the house. The puppy stays out with me when I’m home. I feel like I can’t get anything done! I’m overwhelmed!”
It seems that everyone takes a major guilt trip with the thought of crating their puppy any more than the minimum required – at night and when gone from the house.
This mindset then creates yet another stressor, when, after having all that freedom during the day, the puppy is finally crated so that mom can try and complete a few house chores without the puppy under foot. That’s when the whining and barking starts because the puppy is not used to being crated when people are home.
Here’s something very interesting about all three puppy situations: Predictable activities.
- Their puppies learn and know when the mom leaves to do their errands at the same time every day; take the kids to school, pick up the kids, go to yoga, etc. – all are timed and predictable activities. The puppies also connect going to their crate when the moms leave to handle those errands. No whining, no barking.
- Their puppies know when the family goes to bed. It’s the same time every night. It’s a predictable activity and he connects going to his crate when the family goes to bed. No whining, no barking.
- If you plan on crating your puppy at specific times during the day (the same time every day) in order to get things done around the house, then those crating times also become predictable activities. He will begin to connect being crated – without whining and barking at those times as well.
If you’ve made the mistake of teaching your puppy that he’s going to free roam all the time when you are home, then that becomes the expected routine. You will need to practice gradually getting him used to his new routine of being crated more often while you are home. Ignore the whining and barking. Do not look at, talk to or touch your puppy. The whining and barking will eventually go away.
Benefits to more frequent crating while you are home
You will be rewarded with some great benefits to more frequent crating while you are home during the day as well as in the evening when the family is home – from just after school to bedtime. Let’s take a look:
- It will accelerate your house training as it teaches him to hold his business longer.
- No messes to clean up
- He’s not chewing on your stuff
- Builds confidence being alone and teaches your puppy you are not available 24/7 but you always come back and let him out of his crate. When you want to entertain and don’t want your puppy under foot, he will now feel better about being in his crate – alone without whining or barking.
Dogs are pack oriented – just like we are family oriented. They are not used to being by themselves. As a puppy, our dog Sammy spent time in his crate to get him used to being confined. We kept departures and arrivals quiet and non-eventful. When we were gone from the house for a period of time, we would ignore him for the first 5 minutes once arriving home. We did not want to highly contrast the solitude of his time alone with a happy greeting. This began to build confidence in Sammy that leaving and returning was a normal part of life with humans. It really was no big deal. The same rule applied to being crated when we were there. No big deal. Once Sammy earned our trust out of the crate, the crate went away. He’s now a well-trained house dog.
Out of crate time with your puppy
Time out of the crate with your puppy will be supervised time on leash with you and the family for dog obedience training, working on good manners like no jumping or biting, supervised playtime with the family and age appropriate walks – all constructive and controlled time with your puppy on leash.
The bottom line
Teach your puppy to be confident in his crate when you are home. It will pay big dividends in the short and long haul. If you have set an “out of crate precedence,” you may have to ignore whining and barking for a while – until it goes away – but you’ll be glad you did.
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Jim’s Nose To Tail Puppy Training DVD and training manual has received rave reviews from clients, fellow dog trainers, breeders and vets. If you’re having problems training your puppy this can be the answer you’ve been looking for.
Jim Burwell is a “thanks for making the impossible, possible” professional dog trainer having trained 20,000+ dogs and counting and serving more than 7,000 clients. One of his clients says it best: There are people who are so good at, and passionate about, what they do, that in their presence, one can’t help thinking that they have found their true calling and are doing exactly what they should be doing on this earth. Jim is one of these rare people. His quiet and understated manner, his effective technique for training dogs (and their families) is something which I feel fortunate to have witnessed and in which to have been an active participant. Jane Wagner
(c)Jim Burwell Inc.