Crate training your puppy can help simplify toilet training and also give him a safe haven when he needs one. It is important to do it right though!
First of all, make sure you get a crate the right size. The puppy needs to be able to stand up comfortably, lie stretched out and be able to get up and turn round. It shouldn’t be so big however that he can use one end for sleeping and the other end as a toilet! Also make sure it is one that is safe without any sharp edges or ‘sticky-out bits’ (even when the door is open).
Make the crate really comfortable – line it with veterinary bedding that goes up the sides to keep the pup warm and comfortable (and that is washable). Then introduce it slowly to your puppy. Leave the door open – and when you are playing with the pup, encourage him to go into the crate – possible to chase a toy, or to get a tasty titbit. Make him feel happy about being in there and that it is a safe place to be. Don’t shut the door yet!
Feed him his meals in the crate and while he is eating you can shut the door for a few minutes. Whenever the pup is sleepy, put him in the crate so he gets used to going in there whenever he wants a nap – this is his special sleeping place. Make a hard and fast rule that no one ever disturbs the puppy when he is in the crate – this is his sanctuary!
Once he is happy and relaxed about sleeping in his crate, he can be put in there to spend the night – for most pups this doesn’t take long at all. Every pup is different though and so you need to be sensitive to your own dog and not rush this (or make your puppy feel locked away from you!). The crate should always feel positive and safe.
Thankfully many breeders will have already crate trained their puppies (as it is a lot easier for them not to have puppies running riot around their house) and this will make things so much easier for you – so it may well be something you want to ask the breeder right at the very start.