I work long hours. Is it OK to crate a dog all day?
An absolute must is an exercise pen. This piece of equipment is a portable dog run. They are available at a reasonable cost online or in stores. A small breed can be contained in the 24 inch high pen. Larger breeds can do nicely with the 36 inch high pen. The danger of jumping over the side usually comes from the owner's irresistible urge to pick up the pup and pull her over the side rather than open the pen. If the dog insists on escaping over the side, there are some options available to you. For total security, top panels for the exercise pen are available which can be attached with leash clasps. For the less determined dog, shade cloth or a sheet can be draped over the pen and secured with clothes pins or binder clips.
There is enough room in the ex-pen for food, water and a potty area. If you want to use a cat box for toilet training a small dog, tear some newspaper for the box. A shredder works great for this. Larger dogs that are not yet housebroken should have an opened section of newspaper. Two-inch wide masking tape can seal down the edges to give less interest in chewing and shredding the paper. The surface under the ex-pen should not be carpet. If you have no other choice, buy a piece of vinyl flooring upon which you can set the ex-pen. This also works well to prevent scratches to wooden floors. The puppy should be in the ex-pen whenever you cannot supervise. Young pups that start out in the ex-pen should have little difficulty in adjusting to it.
Children and puppies are extremely self-centered and want ALL of your attention ALL of the time. If they can get your attention by making noise, you have just reinforced the very behavior you want to eliminate. Whatever age the dog, your first plan should be to pretend you don't hear the noise. If a dog gets no response from you, there is no pay-off. In fact, if your schedule permits, you can speed this learning process by leaving the room every time the dog makes noise.
Dogs love creates while humans hate crates. In nature, the young pup remains in the den without child gates or fencing for the first several months of life during the mother's absence. This is instinctive and is for the safety of the pups. The further away from the "den" you insist the puppy relieve herself, the more anxiety you create. It is the owner who imputes a sense of claustrophobia to the dog. You also start to feel guilty about how many hours of the day, even when you are home, poor pooch is crammed into that torturous tiny box. Your first mistake was to think of the crate as doggy prison rather that doggy Hilton. Eventually you succumb to your own imaginings about the indignity of a very natural confinement. You chuck the crate and the chewing destruction begins.
The crate, with the door removed, can be placed inside the exercise pen. This provides a den-like accommodation with the ability to eliminate a small distance from the sleeping area. If the crate is too big, it is possible for the pup to actually go potty inside the crate. If so, put a cardboard box in the back of the crate to make it smaller. If the dog continues to eliminate in the bed/crate, remove the bed entirely for a period of time. As the pup matures she will instinctively go potty away from the bed, and eventually the entire living quarters.
The most important reminder is to have realistic expectations for your canine pal. Remember! The learning ability of all dogs, from seven weeks of age, is that of the average four or five year old child of normal intelligence. The developmental / maturation equivalent ratio through the dog's first year is: 1 puppy month: 1 ¼ human years. Multiply each dog month by 1.25 to see your puppy's equivalent. For example, a six month old pup is the maturation equivalent of a seven and one-half year old child. Since, until the mid-teens, little girls go through their developmental stages faster than little boys, you must be more patient with a male puppy.
© Shannon Schaefer