WHAT IS A CRATE?
A crate (often called a cage) is an enclosed box made of heavy wire bars or fiberglass. The crate has a doorway that latches securely, and the fiberglass models have wire covered windows on two sides. The wire models allow for good air circulation in the summer. Fiberglass crates, however, often give the puppy a more secure, den - like "home" and can be used for air travel if the need should arise. Wire crates should have either a metal pan that site on the bottom of the crate, or a crate pad, both of which provide more comfort than the wire floor. The crate pan is easier to keep clean (and can't be eaten as easily) white your puppy is still a baby. Crates can be purchased from pet supply shops or ordered from catalogs.
HOW AND WHY IS A CRATE USED?
A crate can make a big difference in how safe and happy your puppy is. Unless you can watch over your puppy 24 hours a day (as the puppy's mother did), there is a good amount of time available for puppy to get into mischief! And a lot of this mischief is dangerous to the puppy - chewing electrical cords, eating any number of hazardous/poisonous substances, etc. It's surprising how fast a puppy can get into trouble when you're not watching! Crates also are an ideal aid to house training. Your puppy is instinctively reluctant to soil its sleeping area, so it will try to wait until you let him out of its crate. BUT, baby puppies have very little control over their bladders and bowels, so it is very necessary for you to let puppy out FREQUENTLY. A crate is a house training aid, not a solution. It is up to you to do the training necessary for a well housetrained dog. (See House training guide for further instructions!) Used property, a crate can be worth its weight in gold. It keeps puppy safe from harm when you can't supervise puppy's activities. It is an effective aid to house training. Since it helps to keep puppy out of trouble, you will be happier with the time that you spend with puppy and can start to build a lifelong relationship with puppy based on good feelings and not bad feelings (stemming from constant clean - ups, puppy demolition derbies, that sinking feeling of wondering what puppy did while you were out, or on the phone, or napping, etc.). This is not to say that you put puppy away in its crate for most of the day, taking him out for a few minutes of "quality time". Puppies need to spend a great deal of time with you exploring their new world and learning what is OK and what isn't. Crates just give you and puppy needed time - out. And while you are doing whatever, you needn't worry about puppy. And puppy can have time to himself to assimilate all of the life lessons that he just learned and can recharge his batteries for his next fun time with you!
HOW DO I GET MY PUPPY TO HAPPILY USE A CRATE?
Nature has given us a head start here with crate training. Puppies would normally be living in a dug out den with their littermates and mother. A crate can simulate this den and fulfill puppy's need for a quiet cozy place all of his own.
Simply leave the crate door open and put an inviting toy or treat inside crate for puppy to find. Praise puppy when he goes inside the crate to explore. You can also feed the puppy in the crate. After puppy is comfortable going in and out of the crate at will, you can put a good chewy toy in the crate to keep puppy preoccupied while you close the door for a while. If puppy should protest confinement, reassure him that he fe just fine and will be able to come out shortly. Let puppy come out of the crate after he has settled down and is quiet. Always praise him for being so good! The crate is not for punishment and should never be used in that context. It is a good, enjoyable place for puppy and it should always be associated with praise and reassurance. Your attitude toward crate training will determine how successfully the puppy adapts to its new "den". If you are relaxed and casual about the crate and determined that it will work very well for you, it will. Remember, puppies are very good at sensing your attitude towards just about everything.