This has to be one of the most commonly asked questions when people have a new puppy/dog in the house. There are arguments on both sides as to why you should or should not use a crate. For me, it is a crate all the way! For others, it may not be. Coming from a trainer’s point of view, let me share with you why I feel a crate is a good way of housebreaking your dog, giving it a safe place to be when you’re not home and a place “to call their own”. Dogs, by nature, are den animals. When they want to be left alone they will usually go under something or behind something to get that secure feeling of being protected. A crate gives your dog a place of its own (sort of like having your own room) to go to. Once a dog is used to its crate, you may find that it goes in there by itself to lay down any time of the day. Puppies are like babies. They get into everything and everything goes in the mouth when they are teething. Just as you may put your baby in a playpen to keep it safe when you are busy working around the house, so a crate would be used to keep the puppy safe. A safe toy in the crate will keep the puppy busy while you are unable to watch it and will keep your furniture, electric cords, shoes, etc. protected.
From a housebreaking standpoint, crates can’t be beat. Most dogs won’t go to the bathroom in the area that they sleep in. A crate can be used to that advantage. If you have a huge crate and a small dog, your dog may go to the bathroom in one end of the crate and then move away from it. Make sure your crate is the right size for your dog. It should be large enough for them to stand up and turn around in. It’s not supposed to be a condo – at least not while you’re trying to housebreak. Just remember, if you allow your dog to free feed (have food accessible all day), it will be harder to housebreak. What goes in has to come out. It’s much better if you have your dog on a feeding schedule to help regulate his/her bowels and bladder. Take your dog from the crate directly outside to go to the bathroom and praise and treat him/her each time it does Number 1 and Number 2. Puppies have little bladders and need to go out quite often. Again it's like having a baby. The rule of thumb..........The puppy can sleep an hour for every month old. So, with an 8-week old puppy, the dog must be taken out ever two hours! A 12-week old pup -- taken out every three hours, etc,.. So, be prepared to set your alarm during the early months. It sounds like a real pain, but for a few months of sacrifice, you'll benefit for many years to come!
Another benefit of crate training your dog is in the event your dog has to have surgery or is injured and must be kept quiet. The dog can go into the crate to be confined without it being stressed. It’s also much easier to travel with a dog that is crate trained.