With a new puppy, you will undoubtedly come across people who will try to convince you that crating your new puppy is cruel and inhumane.
They will compare it to prison and torture. For
the sake of your puppy, don't listen.
Your new puppy is a baby. Much like a human baby, puppies need constant supervision, nurturing and protection. They don't have an understanding or fear of things that may hurt them and, without supervision and boundaries, they can get themselves into serious trouble. Crates are only cruel if they are misused. You don't hear anyone objecting to human infants sleeping in a crib or spending time in a playpen. These are generally the first items new parents purchase or receive when they are expecting a child. It's against the social norm to have babies without having a crib, a playpen and baby gates. With our own babies it is simply understood that a child needs a safe place to sleep or play when the parents cannot be 100% attentive. A crib or playpen can be abused as easily as a crate if parents use the crib as a baby sitter and leave the baby in it 24 hours a day. This is NOT what cribs are designed for and it isn't what crates are designed for either. Both are designed to be a safe, quiet place for the baby/puppy to sleep or play while the parents/owners are occupied with something else. Crates also have the added benefit of providing a safe place for your puppy or dog to rest while traveling or staying at the veterinarian. Dogs that have never been crated will find a stay at the veterinarian's office to be extremely stressful since they aren't used to being in a crate. Dogs which are accustomed to crates tend to settle in sooner and relax more which is key to a rapid recovery. Crates in vehicles or hotel rooms will give your puppy a sense of security in an unfamiliar situation or place. To a dog raised with and accustomed to a crate, the crate becomes the dog's den much like a wild dog's den in the side of a hill. They feel protected and safe inside. Most crate trained dogs will sleep in their crate on their own, even with the door open so they are free to come and go.
Puppies generally will not potty where they sleep unless they are desperate and can't hold it any longer. For this reason it is suggested that you either buy a puppy sized crate that only allows enough room for your puppy to stand, turn around and lie down or buy an adult sized crate with a divider so you can expand your puppy's bed as he grows. Then make sure your puppy has lots of supervised potty breaks and play time outside of the crate. If you buy a huge crate or give the puppy free run, it will sleep in one area and potty in another.
Trace - resting quietly in his crate at 8 weeks.
Types of crates available:
There are many different types of crates available and in many different sizes and shapes. Some are solid. Some break down into pieces. Some are collapsible for easier transportation.
We prefer the collapsible crates for our dogs for training and transport, however we have a few other styles as well.
Midwest crates fold down flat for easy storage or transport. They are tough and stand up to most of the wear and tear a puppy will put them through. They come with an easy to clean tray liner for the bottom.
The open sides allow you and your puppy to keep an eye on each other while he is crated. The only down side of this puppy sized crate is that you need to buy a larger crate as the puppy grows.
To the left is a larger icrate brand dog crate. This is an adult sized collapsible crate that comes with a divider. The divider allows you to adjust the crate size as your puppy grows, giving him only the room he needs for sleeping and quiet play. This saves you from buying multiple crates as your puppy grows. Icrates also come with a tray liner for the bottom. They have two latches on the door vs one on the puppy size crate. Some have more than one door for easy access. You can find more information about icrate at Greg Robert Pet Supplies or at Healthy Pets.
There are also travel crates that can double as a home crate. This type of crate is required for air travel with your puppy. They are usually made of a rigid plastic with a metal grate door and spring latch. They have small holes or grills in the plastic for air flow but the main body of the crate is usually solid which makes for a more confined and solitary experience for the dog. They may be more comfortable for a dog that prefers solitude or has a soft temperament in open spaces however the outgoing nature of a Siberian tends to make this crate a poor choice for everyday use. They are unable to see or interact with their family as much with a travel crate and would likely feel more isolated, lonely and claustrophobic in a crate like this. They have even been known to chew or dig through these crates to escape.
You can find more information on these crates as well as different makes and styles of travel crates at Greg Robert Pet Supplies.
There are similar crates called "soft-sided" crates that are made with a canvas type material and frame but with zippers and screens rather than grates and latches. DO NOT waste your money buying a soft-sided crate for a Siberian Husky! Your puppy or dog will eat or claw through the crate in minutes just as soon as it decides it wants out. Siberians have been known to chew their way out of plastic travel crates and even destroy metal collapsible crates and chain link fence to escape. A canvas crate will NEVER hold your dog securely and would be a waste of time and money. These crates are GREAT for the average dog but they are completely worthless with our breed.
Image owned by Healthypets.com
Image owned by Greg Robert Pet Supplies
Image owned by Special Dog Now
Families who are looking for something a little more stylish than a square metal or plastic crate can find some extremely nice crates that are designed to blend in with the rest of your decor.
Denhaus Designer Dog Dens produces designer crates made from solid wood, fiberglass or metal. See the examples (below) and their website for additional information.
Greg Robert also has a tabletop that goes over a crate (right). It doesn't camouflage it nearly as well but it does make for good use of the space above the crate. The table comes in several different sizes to fit specific crate sizes.
Image belongs to Denhaus Designer Dog Dens
Image belongs to Denhaus Designer Dog Dens
Image belongs to Greg Robert Pet Supplies
Crate training tips:
||Size: Make sure you buy a crate that is the correct size for your dog. He should be able to stand up, stretch, turn around and lie down comfortably without much more room beyond that. You want to focus on that instinct to keep his bed clean by giving him just enough room for a bed in his den. You can buy a larger than necessary crate with a divider so you can expand his den as he grows.
||Schedule: Your puppy needs to be on a regular schedule. This is very important. A puppy won't soil its bedding unless it feels it has no choice or unless it has learned to put up with laying in its own mess due to neglect by the owner. It's very important for you to take your puppy outside on a regular schedule so it begins to learn when it can expect to go out. I suggest for very young puppies, new to the home, that you take them out for exercise/potty every two to three hours for the first few days and then work toward every four hours. Give him at least 15 to 20 minutes to do his business. If you snatch him up as soon as he potties and take him inside he will learn that pottying means the end of playtime and he will begin to hold it or refuse to potty outside at all. Give him time to run and play outside after he potties and then make his recall into the house fun as well by offering a treat or more playtime inside.
Young puppies cannot possibly hold it for more than 4 hours and will simply soil their bedding. This makes them very difficult to housebreak completely so this is something you need to avoid. If you must work and can't be home with your new puppy, you need to make arrangements for someone to give him a potty break in the middle of the day or you should set up an outside area for the puppy to spend his day while you are away from home.
||Consistency: Do not turn your cute little puppy into a monster! Pay very close attention here because the tranquility in your house depends on it. Siberian Huskies are extremely intelligent and are very capable problem solvers. They will learn very quickly what works and what doesn't work. If it works once, they will never forget it. You must NEVER, NEVER, (let me repeat myself again because it's worth repeating) NEVER take your puppy out of the crate when he is howling or screaming. This is the surest way to guarantee that your puppy will howl and scream every time you put him in the crate. This is the most difficult part of crate training a Siberian for some families. They feel nobody will get any sleep the first night so they simply let the puppy out of the crate to quiet him down only to find from that point on that crating results in temper tantrums and screaming. DON'T DO IT! You may have a rough night or two if you ignore the puppies howls but more likely than not, the puppy will settle himself within an hour or two the first night and will be sleeping or playing quietly in his crate before the week is over. Some settle within 10-15 minutes. Some may cry the whole first night. Either way, you MUST be consistent and let your puppy settle himself. Keep his crate time fun and brief during the day and it will be easier to settle him at night.
||Be Positive! Start your crate training on a positive note. Place your crate in an area of the home where the family often gathers such as a family room or living room. Siberians are very pack oriented and want to be with their pack all the time. Allowing him to see you and your activities even when he is confined to a crate will be reassuring to him. If you want to move his crate to the bedroom at night or keep a second crate in the bedroom so he can sleep with you, this is acceptable but prepare for a night or two of poor sleep.
Don't introduce your puppy to the crate by simply cramming him inside and shutting the door. If he has a meal coming when you introduce him to your home, place his dish inside the crate and let him go in on his own and eat. Leave the door open so he can come out when he is finished. Then take him directly outside so he can potty (Puppies will always want to potty after eating or drinking, after waking up and after 15-20 minutes of good hard play). When he is finished playing outside, bring him back into the house and show him a new chew toy or squeaky toy and then toss it into his crate. Allow him to go in and get it and bring it out if he chooses. If your puppy seems comfortable going in and out of his crate start feeding him his meals in the crate with the door closed. As soon as he finishes and tries to come out, open the door for him before he can bark or cry. Give him short periods closed inside the crate while you are still in the room. If your puppy barks, whines, screams or makes any other noise you must ignore him completely. If you scold him, sit with him, talk to him or let him out you have just taught him that the quickest way to get your attention or to get his way is to behave badly. You are only to give him your attention when he is quiet and behaving in a way that you want him to behave. You MUST ignore temper tantrums, screaming or bad behavior completely no matter how annoying it becomes. Some Siberians can be extremely stubborn and persistent but whoever wins the first battle will very likely win the war. Don't let it be your puppy. If he sees that his howling fit is not working he will eventually get bored and look for something in his crate to entertain himself or he will lay down and watch you. At that point, you can walk quickly and quietly to his crate and open the door to let him out before he begins howling or barking at you. Tell him "good quiet" and give him some time outside to potty and play. If you have already made the mistake of giving in to your puppy's screaming and now need help crate training a stubborn monster, it is still possible but you have a tough road ahead of you. It is always much better to stay firm and consistent from minute 1. Feel free to contact us if you need help or have additional questions about crate training.
With firm consistency you'll have a puppy that will grow to love napping in his crate.
Follow any of the links below for more information and help with your new puppy.