A young puppy (8-16 weeks) should have no problem accepting the crate as his own room, bed, den. Any complaining is generally caused not directly by the crate, but by his learning to accept controls in a new and unfamiliar environment and wanting to be with the family.
The crate should be big enough to stand, lie down and turn around in, but NO bigger. Too much room reduces the positive impact on the puppy's learning and behavior. If the crate has been purchased with the adult size in mind, make sure to reduce the space available with a safe partition of wire, wood or other material or place a large cardboard box in the back to an area large enough to stand, lie and turn around, but no bigger. Place the crate in a part of the home that is frequented most by the family- family room, kitchen, home office or den depending on how you use your home. It should be a spot free of drafts and not too close to heating vents, curtains or shades. You can have a second crate in your bedroom or move the single crate up for nighttimes, if needed. Be cautious of bedding initially until you know your puppy. Ingestible bedding can cause major medical issues. Start with cardboard or black and white newsprint for bedding. An old towel, blanket or freshly worn, unlaundered clothing (tshirt, sweater) makes great bedding, once you have observed the puppy long enough to know it will not ingest these soft bedding items. Food and water do not need to be available in the crate, but that becomes a matter of personal preference.
The crate is the only area in the home that the puppy owns. Make it clear, especially to children, that this is the puppy's area and needs to be respected. No one should bang on the crate, stick items into the crate or crawl into the crate with the puppy. If a puppy or dog voluntarily retires to the crate, they are telling you something! They may be tired and ready for bed, or tired and need to get away from company!
Establish a daily routine utilizing the crate. Close the puppy in at regular 1-2 hour intervals during the day, using his own chosen nap times to guide you. Close the puppy in when it can't be closely supervised by a responsible person, like when you need to cook a meal or take a shower. And close it in when you must leave the puppy alone for 3-4 hours for work or to run errands. Never leave the puppy in the crate longer than you can reasonably expect it to hold its eliminations. One guide to knowing how long this is is how long the puppy can hold eliminations overnight. Many young puppies cannot hold their eliminations overnight, and the first 1-2 months someone will need to be available to take the puppy out once in the middle of the night. If your puppy can hold eliminations from 10 pm to 2 am, then goes 2 am to 6 am before needing to bathroom, then it can probably hold it 4 hours during the day. DO NOT FEED the puppy immediately on getting up in the morning! You may unconsciously teach the puppy to get you up early in the morning to eat! And remember, USE the crate everyday on a predictable and repeatable schedule.
Things may not go smoothly at first, don't worry and don't weaken. Be consistent. Be firm. Be your puppy's leader. You are doing your puppy a very real favor by preventing it from getting into trouble while left alone and training it to feel safe and secure when left alone.
As the puppy grows, increase the available space inside the crate so the puppy remains comfortable. Plan on using the crate until the puppy is housebroken and past teething, usually at least 5-6 months old. You can test the puppy's readiness to be without a crate by leaving the door open at night or when someone is home during the day (while in shower or napping) or briefly when left alone. Once the puppy has proven he is ready over two weeks of multiple tests, try removing the crate but leaving the bedding in the same place. Should any problem behaviors return, return to using the crate immediately. Most crate trained dogs will readily accept a crate again if needed for travel, illness, behavior, even after a long period without the crate.
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