Crate training your new dog or puppy is a good way to discourage him from using your floors, couches and carpets as his bathroom facilities, and it can prevent him from chewing everything within his reach. The crate-training process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the dog's age and his previous experiences.
Picking a Crate
Dog crates are made out of plastic or metal and can be purchased at pet supply stores. The crate should be big enough for him to stand up, but not too large that he might be tempted to go to the bathroom inside the crate.
Dog Meets Crate
Make sure that the dog associates good things when he goes near his crate. Feed him his meals near or inside the crate and entice him to enter the crate by placing treats inside. Line the bottom of the crate with a soft blanket or towel. Getting your dog acclimated to the crate can take only a few hours or a few days. Puppies and skittish dogs will usually take longer to adapt to the crate environment.
Limited Time in the Crate
Once your dog feels comfortable going inside and outside the crate, try closing the door of the gate while he eats his meal. Leave the door closed for a few minutes after he finishes eating. For the first few times, he might whine. Do not let him out of the crate until he has stopped whining.
Extended Time in the Crate
The dog should now feel comfortable being in the crate for small amounts of time without crying to be let out. Start leaving him in the crate for 10 minutes to 30 minutes at a time. Encourage the dog to enter the crate by giving him a treat. While he is confined, walk around to different rooms in the house, so that sometimes you may be out of his line of vision. It is important to keep repeating this process throughout the day and for a few weeks, until your dog no longer whines.
Leaving the House
Leave your dog in the crate when you are not home. Have him go to the bathroom before you leave and give him a treat when he goes in his crate. Limit your initial outings to no more than an hour or two.
When you first start leaving your dog in his crate overnight, have it in a location where you can hear him if he needs to go out. This is especially important for puppies, who will need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Eventually, your dog will be able to hold his bladder throughout the night without waking.
Time Well Spent
Crating your new puppy will take anywhere from two to six weeks to maintain a normal schedule. A previously trained dog may only take a day to get used to his new routine and surroundings. A skittish dog may take even longer than six weeks. Make sure that you are promoting a normal daily routine for your dog by using treats, not rewarding whining and not leaving him alone in the crate for long extended periods throughout the day (more than five or six hours).
Alexa Evans is a freelance writer and marketing editor based in San Diego, Calif. Evans has been published in "Tango Diva," "Map Vivo" and "Trazzler." She earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of California, Santa Cruz.