Size of crate
For a Mini a 24 inch crate (on the widest side) is the minimum size to choose, a larger one would be better as an adult dog as their crate should be large enough for them to stand up without banging their head on the roof; be able to lie out at full stretch and to turn round in comfortably. If you buy a crate for the size your puppy will be when fully grown, if needed it can be sectioned off. You donít want the crate area to be large enough for your puppy to go to the toilet in one end and go and sleep in the other.
Type of crate
With choices of metal, plastic or fabric we suggest using the metal wire type crates as they allow good airflow for the summer and can be covered to keep it cosy in winter, easy to keep clean and fold flat when not in use. Plastic crates don't allow air to flow so well, don't fold flat but do clean easily. Fabric crates can 'hamster ball' if not tethered down, they can also be difficult to clean and are easily chewed.
Introducing your puppy to their crate
Initially, the best place to site the crate would be somewhere in the house where they can see the coming and going of the household. The kitchen or family room can be a good starting point, that way your puppy wonít feel lonely when in it.
Prepare the crate with soft, cosy bedding and perhaps a blanket draped over the back, to keep out draughts and afford them some privacy and enhance the security that their crate will bring. If your puppy chews any of the bedding you should remove it so they canít swallow any of the bits. If they soil any bedding, again you should remove it and wash it as soon as possible to discourage them from doing it again. You can also add some favourite toys. Ensure the toys are safe though, large enough not to be swallowed and remove any toys that are starting to disintegrate. Itís a good idea to swop toys around, so your puppy keeps thinking their getting new ones to keep them interested.
Get your puppy to associate their crate with a pleasant experience. Start by dropping some treats or kibbles inside the crate. While investigating, your pup will discover these treasures, thereby reinforcing a positive association with their crate. You may also feed them in their crate to the same effect. If they hesitate, it often works to feed them in front of the crate, then inside the doorway and then, finally, in the back of the crate. Donít ever force your puppy into their crate; this will again only make it a negative experience. Whenever your puppy enters their crate, give them lots of praise. Also use a word for them to associate with their crate, e.g. Bed.
Once your puppy is happy in their crate and perhaps eating their meals, you can close the door while eating and when finished, open it. You can lengthen the time you have the door closed after finishing meals, to get them used to being there for longer periods of time. Try to time it though that you are opening the door and letting them out before they start to whine or cry to get out. If they do start to whine or cry, donít open the door to let them out or theyíll learn to associate whining and crying with being let out of their crate. Wait for the crying to stop before letting them out.
Once your puppy is happy in their crate, you can now ask them to go into it and close it, gradually building up the length of time theyíre closed in for. You should do this while you are at home so that they know youíre still there. Encourage them into their crate a chosen command and give them a treat once inside. Then sit quietly nearby for five to ten minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time, then let them out of their crate. Repeat this process several times a day. With each repetition, gradually increase the length of time you leave them and the length of time you're out of their sight. Once they will stay quietly in their crate for about 30 minutes with you out of sight the majority of the time, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods.
This may take several days.
If youíre crating your puppy before you go out, call them to their crate with your usual command word and give them a treat. You can also leave some safe toys with them or a Kong stuffed with something tasty. Donít make your departure a big issue though. Briefly praise them, give them their treat for entering their crate and their chosen toy and then leave quietly. When you return, donít get them over excited about your return. Keep your arrival home as low key as your departure. Calmly and quietly let them out when nice and calm, if overexcited at your return; wait for them to calm down before you let them out. Continue to crate your puppy for short periods from time to time when you're home so they donít associate crating with being left alone.
Accidents in the Crate
Never punish your puppy for having an accident in their crate. Simply remove their bedding, clean out with an appropriate cleaning solution (do not use ammonia based cleaning products or bleach) then replace their bedding with fresh. Donít make an issue of any mishaps.
Always remove your puppy or dogís collar before crating him. It is very easy for a collar to get caught in the bars of a crate.
Do not allow children to go into or harass your puppy while in their crate. Their crate is their haven for peace and tranquillity and that should be respected.
Do not crate your puppy for extremely long periods of time. The following is a guideline:
9-10 Weeks Approx. 30-60 minutes
11-14 Weeks Approx. 1-2 hours
15-16 Weeks Approx. 2-3 hours
17 + Weeks Approx. 3 hours maximum
If you need to leave them any longer than 4 hours, alternative arrangements should be made e.g. with a friend or neighbour to look after them or call in a pet sitter or dog walker.
Used properly, a crate can be an invaluable and useful training tool. The main purpose of using a crate is to provide security, safety and protection for your puppy. By providing a crate for your puppy, you can fulfil their natural need for a den. It is also a useful tool to aid house training as pups don't like to soil their bed area. A crate can also help in reducing separation anxiety and to keep your puppy safe from dangers in the home and your home safe from danger of puppy chewing.
Many people think that a crate looks like a ďdoggy jailĒ, but youíll find, that when introduced properly, your puppy will love having their own bedroom where they can go to chill out, sleep and, be safe and secure. This is why you should never and we must stress this point, never, use their crate as a form of punishment, you will only turn your puppy against it, cause them to fear it and be reluctant to go into it. Going into their crate should only be associated with pleasant and happy experiences.