One of the very first things that you will want to do with your new pup is crate train and housebreak it. This is all part of bringing your pup into the home successfully. These new puppy principles are essential for your gundog's success.
The crate training process can turn into a nightmare if it isn't done properly. Fortunately, we've created a step by step Crate Training & House Breaking Guide that you can download here and follow.
This guide will show you exactly how to crate train your puppy and beginning housebreaking. I highly recommend downloading it along with reading this blog post.
With that said, there are a few key focus points that you need to know so that the process will go as smoothly as possible.
Why crate size is key and why you should consider keeping your pup in a crate
Utilizing a crate is important and can help your pup feel safe.
As you shop for crates for your pup, you will notice that there are many different brands and sizes to choose from. The most important aspect early on is selecting the right crate size. It will be tempting to go out and purchase a crate that your pup will grow into, but this is a mistake you do not want to make. Here's why...
If you purchase a crate that is too big, which is what most do, your pup will easily be able to potty on one side of the crate. Then, it will be able to rest on the other side of the crate without consequence. Therefore, purchasing a crate that is too large will result in more frequent accidents which ultimately counteracts the work that you put in on crate training your pup.
So what size crate should you purchase?
A great crate size to aim for is one that your pup can sit up, and lay down in comfortably, but not walk around. If your pup can move from one side of the crate to the other, then it is too big.
Now you are probably thinking... "If I purchase a crate that small, won't my pup outgrow it quickly?" The truth is, yes. It will outgrow it, but you have a couple of options.
You can purchase an expandable crate. Meaning, it can grow with the pup. You can buy a couple of less expensive crates that your pup will outgrow, but it will do the job for crate training. The third crate you can purchase should be one that your pup will fit into when fully grown.
The final option is to purchase a crate that your pup can grow into, take a piece of plywood, and make your own graduated crate. All of these options will work. The main thing is that you choose the option that you feel suits you best.
How to handle accidents: The key to crate training and housebreaking
Accidents are inevitably going to happen with young puppies. The key is what you do when the pup has an accident. In our blog post Puppy Pick Up Day, we talked about supplies that you would need to have on hand when you bring your puppy home. The specific supplies that I am talking about here are cleaning supplies.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when their pup has an accident is not cleaning out the crate with a proper cleaning agent. While it may appear clean to us, you have to remember that your pup has an incredible nose. It has the ability to sort through multiple smells and distinguish a potty smell from the smell of a household cleaner.
That is why we recommend utilizing a cleaner that contains bacterial enzymes. The bacterial enzymes will break down the germs and bacterias that are found in either the urine or the stool from your pup. What that means for you is that your pup will be less likely to have future accidents.
Potty accidents rarely happen at a good time. Most of the time they happen when you least expect it, or when you are asleep crate training a puppy a night. Your pup will be quick to let you know that it needs to potty or that it already has. That type of bark will surely wake you up.
When an accident happens in the middle of the night, it is imperative that you take the time to not only thoroughly clean the crate but also give your pup a bath. If you clean the crate, but neglect to clean the pup, then, a future accident is very likely to happen.
How should you respond if your pup has an accident?
Respond with calmness and understanding. The simplest and most effective response is for you to take responsibility for the pup's accident instead of punishing the pup. It's very important to always keep the bigger picture in mind.
These early stages of your pup's life are crucially important in the overall development of your pup. It is your golden opportunity to start developing a great bond with your pup and instill a sense of trust. Keeping that in mind, if you were to punish your pup for pottying in the home or crate, it would negatively affect your bond and the sense of trust that you are trying to build up.
With that in mind, the next natural question to be asking is: "If punishment isn't the best option, then what should I do instead?"
The ultimate key to fewer accidents is prevention.
Food intake and water intake are essential for developing control as well as prevention
One of the best steps that you can take to prevent accidents is by managing your pup's food and water intake properly. Managing this will help you with your puppy crate training schedule. Right off the bat, there is one thing about this section that you need to fully understand.
Your pup won't know when to stop drinking or eating. Up until this point in your pup's life, it has been competing with its littermates for sustenance. That means, your pup has learned to eat and drink all that it can so that it doesn't miss out.
If you give your pup a bowl of water, it will most likely drink the whole bowl. When this happens you will notice that its stomach starts to expand. If this happens, just be ready for extra potty breaks!
Now that you understand that, you are probably wondering what is the best way to manage food and water intake.
The key here is timing.
You will want to consider your schedule and what works for you. Generally, the morning is a great time to feed and water. As far as how much water, it depends on your schedule. If you are about to head off for work, you will want to limit the water intake because you won't be around to make sure your pup can go potty.
Before your pup is in the crate at night, you will probably want to consider giving your pup its last opportunity for water about three hours before bedtime. Otherwise, you increase the risk of night time potty accidents.
As far as food intake goes, you will not want to limit it as much as you do water intake. However, you will want to keep in mind your feeding schedule. Once you feed your pup, you can expect it to need to potty within the next couple of hours (if not within the next fifteen minutes)!
As mentioned in the What to Do When You First Get a New Puppy blog post, you will want to establish a routine and stick with it. The structure of a routine will help both you and your puppy thrive when it comes to crate training and housebreaking!
Now that you understand crate training, you will want to be prepared to deal with three of the most common issues with having a new puppy.
P.S. Don't forget to download the step by step Crate Training & House Breaking Guide by clicking here.