Make a comfortable bed in the crate and place it in a spot where your puppy can see you come and go. Cover the crate with a duvet cover to make it cosy. Play with your puppy outside, make sure they have been to the toilet, then when you see they are getting tired, put them in the crate with a chew and close the door. Walk away and ignore any crying or whining. After a short while, your puppy should fall asleep. If they don't, wait for a lull in the crying and take your pup outside to the toilet and start again. Repeat until they relax and fall asleep.
Once they have had a sleep, you need to listen for signs of stirring and immediately open the crate, pick your puppy up and rush outside to your chosen toilet spot. If you just open the crate door and allow them to walk out, they will wee just outside the door of the crate. Stand with your pup and wait until they have been to the toilet. Keeping a lead attached to the collar for toilet visits means that they can’t wander off and forget what they were meant to be doing. Afterwards, if it is the middle of the night, carry your pup back to the crate, place them on their bed, close the crate door and go back to bed. You can ignore all crying as long as you are sure they have been to the toilet. Having the crate next to your bed makes the night times less stressful. If it is day time, you can keep your pup with you for a while when you return indoors, until they seem tired. Then take them back outside to the toilet, as before and place them in the crate for a nap with a tasty chew or a toy.
You can use the crate as a safe space for your puppy, whenever you are busy and cannot watch them - as long as you have taken them to the toilet first. For the first few weeks, your puppy can quite safely stay in the crate or on a lead attached to you while inside the house. In this way, your puppy will bond with you and not get a chance to mess in the house or destroy anything which means there is no need for any punishment or correction.
As your puppy matures and gets used to the crate, you can leave them in the crate for short periods when you need to leave the house. Don’t have a long drawn out goodbye; just take them out to the toilet and then pop them in the crate and leave. When you come back, act very matter of fact, don’t have a big reunion, just take your pup straight outside to the toilet. If you make a big fuss you will increase their anxiety about being left alone.
If you work during the day and have to leave your puppy for long periods, put the crate in an enclosed area like a cordoned off part of the kitchen, an enclosed yard or a bathroom. Leave the door open and cover the rest of the area with newspaper (if inside). Your puppy will go into the crate to sleep and walk out of the crate to go to the toilet. House training this way will take a little longer than if you are near your pup to monitor them for the first few months.
If you are vigilant, your puppy should never make a mess in the crate. To reduce the risk of any accident, make sure that:
- The crate is not too big for your puppy. (they should not be able to make a mess and get away from it)
- You always take them outside before you put them in the crate and make sure they have actually been to the toilet.
- You do not put a water bowl in the crate.
If your puppy should have an accident, do not punish them, just clean out the crate with a non-ammonia based cleaner.