Pet Care & Training


If your first reaction of a crate is, "I don't want my dog in a cage, that looks cruel." Please, read on.

A crate is a tool used for housebreaking and confining your dog so they can be safe when you are not at home. It is also used for transporting your pet in any vehicle, on camping trips, in hotels, or taking your dog to a friend's house. Think of the crate as a den, a safe place, a room, time-out for your dog. Dogs are den dwelling animals and like small spaces. Of course, they should be exercised regularly and spend more time out of the crate than in it. You should always use the crate in a positive way, never as a punishment. If used correctly, your pet will enter the crate on their own. Remember to keep the door open when your pet is not inside for easy access. You must believe this is a good, safe space and convey that to your dog in order for them to believe it too.

Set-up the crate in a central part of your home, such as the living room, kitchen, or family room. Some trainers think placing the crate beside your bed especially helps young dogs feel less abandoned.  

Food or water bowls should never be placed inside the crate. We recommend a set feeding and water schedule to be adhered to in order for the dog to establish timely body functions. At no time should a dog be placed in their crate without knowing they eliminated, both pee and poop, nor before giving them time to do so.

Crate time vs. age of the dog: At 3 months and younger a puppy can only use the crate for confinement up to 2 hours at a time without going outside. Serious crating can begin around 4 months. The 4-month-old puppy begins with only 3 hours maximum in the crate. For every month over 4 months, you can add an hour. (example: 5 months = 4 hours.)

Expect crate training to continue through the age of 6 months. To be successful you must be consistent. Don't stop using the crate after a while and then try to go back to it.  For best results, continue to use the crate through the age of 2 years.

Let's Get Started!

5 am - 7 am: Grab your coat, boots, treats, and leash before going near the crate. Open the door and hook the leash on the dog without saying anything except "outside" and "go potty." Take the dog to the place in the yard you want them to go. A common mistake made in potty training is taking the dog for a walk to pee or poop. Teach your dog to eliminate in your yard first. That is where they will need to go on a cold, snowy day.  When you are where you want the dog to go, say your command word.  (Something like "potty, park-it, go," you decide.)  Remember to be consistent with your commands, everyone who takes the dog out should use the same command word each time. Once the dog eliminates, repeat your command word, so they can make the connection between what you're saying and their actions, then speak in an excited voice and reward them instantly with a treat and praise. Don't wait until you come inside to give them the treat!  When you bring them back in, it's time for breakfast! Feed by placing their food down for 15 min. If they don't eat it all it that time, pick it up until the next feeding. Remember you are training to get the dog on a schedule. Leaving the food down will only set them up to fail, as it can lead to them having an accident in their crate. Check the clock to note the time and take the dog back outside. Young pups usually eliminate within 5 min. after eating.  If after 5 min. the dog has not pooped, bring them back into the house, and place them in their crate.  Wait for another 15 min. then try taking them outside again, while giving your command. Repeat trying outside for 5 min./crating 15 min. until the dog goes. Check the clock again and note how long it takes from the time the dog eats to when they eliminate. This should be used as a gauge for giving your dog enough time between eating breakfast to going potty. 

Before leaving the dog in the crate, take them outside one more time. Say your word for the crate (bed, crate, kennel-up etc.), then set them up with music and a safe toy.  Leave without a lot of gooey good-byes. It may be difficult, but remember you're not leaving them for long.  

After the dog has eliminated, they can play freely in the home until it's time to go into the crate. Potty time is every hour or two after play or after sleep. If you can't watch your dog at any time, place them in their crate until you can give your full attention. Older dogs won't need as much supervision out of the crate as younger dogs. 

4 pm - 6 pm Feed the dog their dinner, then check the clock. Usually, the dog will eliminate 3-4 hours after eating. Younger dogs will poop several times a day, while most older dogs go about twice a day.  When the dog is not being supervised, they should be crated until they need to eliminate. If the dog poops 2 hours after the PM feeding, then they can stay out of the crate supervised. 

TIME OUT OF THE CRATE SHOULD ALWAYS EXCEED TIME IN. The crate was never meant for any dog of any age to be inside of it all day. Crating is a tool to help in housetraining for short periods of time. You should never crate a dog all day.  Keep crate time to a maximum of 3-4 hours at a time, allowing the dog to relieve themselves and stretch their legs.  It's a good idea to take them for a walk before being put back into the crate. Exercise is the key to successful crate training.

When housebreaking a puppy, water intake should be limited. Give drinks 3-4 times a day.  Take water away no later than 7 pm to ensure a dry night.   Dogs under the age of 7 months will need to be let out more often, every two hours as they do not have the ability to "hold it" for long periods of time. 

Bedtime Again, your dog has gone out several times, but give them one last chance to go before bed. Crate your dog at night. Once housebroken, they can be trusted to sleep elsewhere or just leave the crate door open. Usually, after 6 months the dog is out of the crate at night. Keep using the crate through the age of 2 to get through the chewing stages when you are not home. THE FIRST TWO NIGHTS ARE THE TOUGHEST If the dog whines, ignore it, and do not take them out of the crate. The dog is OK, they are only trying to see what they can get away with. If the whining continues, wait for at least an hour, and then quietly take the dog out, giving your command. Give them 5 min. to go outside to go potty and then return them to the crate. Do not play with the dog and do not give in on this introduction.

If the dog poops or pees in the house and you did not see it happen, you cannot discipline them.  It is over in their mind. They will not understand why you are upset and will not make the connection between your yelling and the mess they made.  Clean up the mess with a paper towel and place it in the yard where you want the dog to go. If you witness the dog going in the house, clap your hands and sharply say NO. Never drag the dog to push their face in the mess. Take them outside where you want the dog to go, while saying your command. Give them a few minutes before returning inside. Do not act angry as this only confuses the dog. Remember, accidents can be prevented, use the crate if you are not supervising.

If you are still having problems after the first week, give us a call at (814) 726-1961, we can help. Older dogs can be housebroken with a crate, they just need the same schedule as younger dogs but can go longer before eliminating.  It is important to prevent bad habits from forming early on, the sooner you start, the sooner you can enjoy the benefits of crate training.