We have recently had questions and comments about crate (or kennel) training, so we wanted to give some tips and help to those of you who would like to know.
Editor’s Note: “Please keep in mind that crate training is the choice of the cockapoo owner and we do not believe that is bears any bad effects on your pet when done properly. However, crates should not be your idea of a way to control your interactions with your dog and it is not a good idea to use it as punishment! We at Cockapoo Crazy do not support leaving a dog in a crate for outrageous lengths of time or using the crate in any way that could be considered abusive to your pet. That being said, here are our tips for you to help your cockapoo get used to a crate, and should also help with housebreaking.”
Dogs have a natural instinct to have a den or some place that they can calm down. A crate fulfills this need for most dogs, and after they get used to it many pups will go in their crate just to get away from a lot of noise, or even to take naps when nothing else is going on. Think of the crate as the same idea as if your cockapoo likes to hide under a piece of furniture, such as your table. It is a place that they can feel safe and sheltered. Dogs also have an instinct to not go to the bathroom where they sleep, and when you introduce them to a crate, it can help them to begin to know where it is okay to use the bathroom. As many new puppy owners may know, puppies take a while to understand that your whole home is their den, so they think it is okay to go potty in the corner. Using a crate can keep your sanity and keep your home more sanitary!
Choosing A Crate
First thing you need to do is choose your crate. The size you buy is in direct proportion to your cockapoo’s size. To ensure that you pooch doesn’t soil one end and sleep at the other, you should get a crate that is only large enough for the puppy to stand up, lay down (stretched out), and turn around comfortably. Too big is no good, as it doesn’t provide the same “sheltered” feeling for the dog. Too small is just plain cruel.
You can find some crates that are made with a removable wall so you can increase the size of the crate as your cockapoo grows. There are three main kinds of crates, sometimes four. Soft-sided crates are best used for dogs already trained to like being closed in, due to them being easy to rip apart. Plastic hard sided crates are more often used for traveling, and can be a good idea in the car, as well as in your home. These are also the only type accepted on planes for travel in cargo. Keep in mind, however, that they retain more heat than a wire container, because there is less room for airflow. If you keep your house somewhat warm, this may not be a great option indoors. Wire crates are the most commonly used in the home, and we think they are the best for indoor use. They are easily cleaned, secure, and allow lots of air flow. Additionally, you can find many accessories like liners for comfort and covers to make them more den like. These are also the type that most often have the adjustable size. Lastly, you can find crates made out of wood. These are often more decorative looking and would remind you more of a dog house. Any of these types will work for training your cockapoo puppy, though again, we don’t recommend starting with a soft-sided crate.
Accessorize & Encourage!
Next you need to outfit your cockapoo’s crate to make it more inviting. Put a familiar, safe toy inside, and a blanket or towel with your pup’s scent on it. You can put in a liner or pet bed and make the floor more comfortable. If you have a wire crate, make sure you have the hard plastic liner inside, as the wires are uncomfortable and your cockapoo should not have to lay on that! Begin leading your pooch to the crate by putting treats inside or give him a chewy treat or peanut butter stuffed Kong toy while inside the crate. You want your dog to think of the crate as a happy, relaxed place to be. Praise him whenever he goes inside without you telling him to do so. Always try to encourage him into the crate when he is tired, so he will sleep and not feel confined. This will help to get him used to being inside. Do not force him into it physically.
It also helps to feed your cockapoo in the crate for all his meals until he is fully crate trained. This will also be a help in the getting used to the crate and even enjoying being inside. You can either attach a water bottle to the side of the crate, or simply put a small stainless steel dish of water in the crate, as well.
Consistency & Potty Training
The last part is the hardest. You have to be very consistent with your training. Exercise your cockapoo enough to make him tired and eventually able to sleep through the night. You should try to keep your puppy awake through the evening, until you are ready to go to bed. Most puppies, like babies, are apt to sleep much of the time, but if you keep him busy, your puppy will sleep better at night. You need to stop food and water at least two hours before bed for your puppy. Take him outside before you go to bed, then you need to wake yourself up to take the dog out no more than every four hours, if the puppy is only a few months old. Puppies under four months have very little control over their bodily functions, which is why they seem to pee and poo everywhere!
You can use this rule of thumb, when trying to housebreak your dog. They need to go outside to use the bathroom a comparable number of hours apart to weeks of age. This means if your puppy is two months or less, they should go outside every 1 to 2 hours. Three months old should go out every 3 hours, and so on until they can wait four to six hours at over 4 months. An adult dog who has been house broken can wait up to 8 hours usually, but whenever possible you should always offer your dog to go outside every six hours.
Training your cockapoo to be in the crate at night will be tricky, but if you stick at it you will get there. They do not like to be separated from you, so they will whine and cry to come out. You need to ignore this, and as long as you have followed the advice of keeping him awake and playing with him to wear him out, your puppy will get tired eventually, usually after about half an hour, and then go to sleep. Make sure you have given your cockapoo puppy enough time to empty its bladder fully before bedding down for the night.
You can cover the crate with a blanket if you want to, or put music on to have soothing noise. But the most important thing is always consistency. If you know for sure that the puppy does not need to go to the bathroom yet, ignore him. No need to hit the cage or yell, just roll over and pretend to be asleep. The puppy will go to sleep eventually, if it is not getting attention. You then need to wake up to take the pup out, no more than four hours later. Make sure he goes potty, at least to urinate, even if he seems too tired. This will help you to get through the rest of the night. Make sure you praise the dog when he goes to the bathroom outside, and try to go to the same general area, so he will smell that it has been used before. Dogs are creatures of habit, and consistence is key.
Above all, remain positive and know that once your puppy is fully crate trained, things will be easier on both you and your cockapoo!