Puppy Crate Training

pitbull puppies

A litter of Pitbull Puppies bred at Kinneman Kennels in 2007

Before you crate train your puppy, please know that if a dog that is left in a crate for long hours can become neurotic, restless and noisy. It is suggested that you find someone who can take your dog out for a long walk and spend time with it outdoors.

Try as far as possible to only use the crate at night.  Otherwise, you must leave your dog in a separate room with reusable housebreaking pads, some healthy food, ample water and exciting toys. Arrange the room in such a way that the bed and food are at one end and the pee pads at the other. Spread the toys in the middle of the room. Dogs are intelligent and thinking creatures and they need to find something to occupy their mind.

The scientific crate training method is as follows:

  • Use a crate for the first 3 to 4 weeks to confine your puppy in it when you are not with him.

  • Take care to ensure that the crate is neither too big nor too congested without moving space. It should be large enough for the puppy to lie down in bed for a comfortable sleep and be able to stand up and stretch its limbs.

  • Dogs will feel happy not to soil their beds and the crate. Patiently and persuasively teach them to control their urge to urinate/defecate.

  • You must be vigilant and as soon as you see your puppy pacing, sniffing around, and turning restless, take it out of the crate.

  • Allow the puppy about 10 minutes of rest after relieving before taking it back inside.

  • Until your puppy is about 5 months old you will need to take him out frequently and keep an eagle eye on him.

  • Belly bands are effective training tools, particularly for male dogs, to prevent them from spoiling your floor and your furniture. Put them on while they are in the house, and remove them when going out.

A 12 week old puppy should be able to remain crated for 4-5 hours. A six month old puppy should be able to remain crated for 6-7 hours. A ten month old puppy should be able to remain crated for 8 hours.

It is true that paying absolute attention to a puppy round the clock can be very strenuous.  When you are too busy to watch the puppy, put the puppy in his crate and close the door.  You will have peace of mind and the puppy will also not go astray.

Paper Training your pups

If your puppy is being developed to be an indoor pet, you may try what is called paper training.  Place layered newspaper sheets in one corner of the room away from the feeding and water dishes. After every meal, you may lead the puppy to the newspaper pile. Each time the puppy defecates, change the top layer of newspaper and leave the bottom layer. Puppies will obviously not like to ease where they smell urine and feces.

Housebreaking a Puppy

You should begin to housebreak immediately after you bring your new puppy home. You must learn to consider housebreaking as managing your puppy rather than training it. There is a subtle difference between managing and training. With training, you try to teach your puppy a new behavior or an ability to obey your commands. With management, you develop a formula whereby you can evoke the desired response in your puppy.

Just like infant children, little puppies (8-12 weeks old) do not consciously understand that what they are doing is wrong or unacceptable.  So, you cannot make them realize that they are doing the wrong thing when they make a mistake in the house.

Any thing that you say to disapprove the puppy’s incorrect act will not be associated by the puppy with the elimination mistake it made. So, any sort of house breaking punishment that you mete out will be misconstrued by the puppy as unjustified anger from its master.  It will form an opinion of you as an angry person and someone to avoid and/or to fear.

When you start housebreaking in right earnest, you should inculcate a habit in your puppy to learn though experience, where to eliminate.  Once the puppy has developed the habit of relieving specifically outdoors he will no longer bother you spoiling your indoors. It will through instinct go to the pre-determined place chosen by you for this purpose. So, you understand that this is more a management method and not a training technique.

Here are some simple and easy-to-follow guidelines to housebreak a puppy:

  • Make it a point to leave the puppy in a crate that is sufficiently small so that he cannot urinate/defecate in one end and sleep soundly in the other end.

  • Never place absorbent materials like sponges, towels or mattresses inside the crate.  Puppies have a tendency to pee or poop on the towel and push it aside, creating a dry place to sleep.  The puppy must learn to hold it until it is taken out.

  • When the puppy wakes, you must open the crate door and allow it to walk out. Ensure it does not pee before getting out of your home.

  • Or else, carry and place it in the pre-determined spot where you plan it should urinate/defecate.

  •  Avoid engaging it in any play lest it be distracted from urinating/defecating.

  • Once inside your home, confine it to its room.  Allow it free access to water and after giving time for it to relax restore it to the crate.

  • When it is time for a meal, offer meal in its crate.

  • After 20-40 minutes, remove the meal and take him outdoors again.  Most young puppies need to eliminate from 20-40 minutes after they eat.  It should be put back in his crate, immediately when you get inside.

With passage of time, your puppy should be able to restrain longer periods of time before defecating.  But you must cultivate the habit to house break in the first four weeks. Set a timetable and achieve it. You must evolve a workable method of managing the puppy for the first month to allow your puppy for mid-day outings for defecating and urinating.

Feeding the puppy

Offering dinner early in the evenings and removing water several hours prior to bedtime – can help immensely with housebreaking.  Puppies that are 8 – 16 weeks old should typically receive 3 meals per day.  When it is around 4 months, it develops teeth and during this time your puppy should forego solid food.  This is because of the pain of chewing.  Offering moist food at this time can be helpful.  After 4 months, puppies can begin to eat two meals per day.

You should remove the food after the puppy after allowing 20 minutes to eat what ever it wants.  You should not be overly generous and let it overeat. This will put its digestive tract to a lot of strain that it will not defecate on a schedule.  Once you are able to clearly figure out how long after he eats a meal he needs to go outdoors, it will make things easy for you to housebreak the puppy.


Most 10 week old puppies sleep through the night.  But, if the puppy is still waking you at midnights for a trip outside, you can choose to ignore its cries.  If it has become habituated to waking at odd hours in the night it does not truly need to go outside. It will go back to sleep when you refuse to acknowledge it’s whining.

Under no circumstances, you should get frustrated, impatient or upset with the puppy during the housebreaking process.  It serves no purpose beyond making your puppy resentful and unfriendly. Please understand that housebreaking is all about efficiently managing your puppy and this calls for judicious planning, a spirit of tolerance and deep commitment.

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