Crate training 101 - location

Not a great photo because it was dark out but you can see how big this 14 week old boy is already.  

If you are a long time blog follower then you know how much I love crates.  I love crates because they offer safety, security and freedom.  Crates offer you a chance to skip the moments when you regret ever getting a puppy. Instances when a puppy with too much freedom wreaks havoc on your home.  Coming home to a hole in your new couch, a leg chewed off of your antique dining room chair or poop from wall to wall can challenge the most seasoned canine guardian.  A crate can eliminate it all and offer your puppy a nice little cave to call their own.

Crate training is not for the weak.  It can be a challenge, when many people throw in the towel far too soon.  "They hate it," "he screams his fool head off," yep.  Yes most puppies aren't thrilled with the idea of a crate in the beginning; but it's not the crate per-say, it is the "lonesomeness." They don't want to be away from you, hence the screaming.  Given the option of a nice comfy crate with the door open so that they can come and go, most would opt to use it on their own.  

We have a house guest for a week, Atticus.  He is a about 14 weeks old and almost the size of Elsa already.  He is crate trained and for that I am thankful.  Last night was our first overnight so I knew it might be a little rough.  The two played for a good long hour outside before bedtime.  I have Atticus's crate with his bed stuff inside to make him feel at home.  He was not keen on going in the crate at first; heck their's too much new stuff to check out.  So with a little push, in he went and he wasn't thrilled about it.  

I crawled into bed and waited, listening...  Then it started, it started out low and it started to grow.  He whined, barked, pawed at the crate door and full on howled.  He hasn't got his adult voice yet (thankfully) but he is loud enough.  The commotion was not desperate or frantic; he was just complaining and throwing a tantrum.  The crate is what he is used to sleeping in, so I'd just put him in his bedroom for the night.  

I closed my eyes and waited for silence.  When it didn't come, I thought about the location of the crate.  Being that he was already crate trained I'd placed his bed away from mine.   In need of a solution I got up out of bed, dragged the crate over close to my bed and stuck my toes into the side of the crate. There was instant silence.  He let out a few final objections in the form of heavy sighs and then finally lay down.  Success!!!!!!

This is how I have always crate trained.  Of course there are a lot of steps to get to this place but the importance of crate location is one of the biggest factors.  By having the crate close to your bed, you can easily make a puppy feel like they are sleeping right beside you.  With my toes in the side grill of the crate; Atticus felt like he was with the pack.  Once he fell asleep I quietly slipped my toes out and back under my covers. 

He let out one objection around 4 am but went right back to sleep after venting.  This morning we were up bright and early at 5:20 for a pee and he is now back in the crate for a little bit while I blog.  He has complained a bit but is calm and fairly quiet.  

Some folks have issues with crates, stating "I'm not putting my dog in a cage, that's cruel."  What's cruel is the dread, danger and regret that can form from not using a crate.   Just think about wolves in the wild; Momma wolf does not leave her puppies running free when she goes out to hunt.  They are left in the den and fully understanad that they need to stay there until she returns.  Think of your dog's crate as their den; a safe place to leave them when you are not supervising.