Today as we made changes to the puppies living space, I decided to begin crate training. All of our dogs are crate trained and they really appreciate having a space that is their own. In addition, it makes transporting them easier, and we know that in case of an injury or illness, our dogs would not have the added stress of being locked up in an unfamiliar crate. When we leave home, we have the comfort of knowing our dog won't be getting into something potentially dangerous, making a mess, or damaging our home and furniture. When we close the door, they really don't care. This is because we have set up crates as a positive experience since the day we brought them home.
Everything we do with the puppies is deliberate. We take a long view on their development and take many baby steps to train them before they go to their new homes. Every dog leaving my program will be crate trained. They will be used to being in a crate alone for short periods during the day and all night. Pet parents who choose to continue this are very happy because their puppy will know that crates are ok, and that they need to be quiet and sleep.
I introduce the puppies to crates by replacing their bed area with a crate. The crate is big, and it has 2 entrances. The puppy can go in and get out easily. It is separate from the playing area, so puppies who want to get out of the crazy learn that they can retire to the crate and usually be left alone. If you zoom into the picture you will notice the doors are zip tied open. I don't want the puppies to get locked in or get pinched by a moving door. Zip ties are cheap and easy.
Later on I will close off one of the doors, and eventually start closing both. But this will be a lot later in the process. I usually do it out of necessity- as the puppies get bigger, it is harder to clean their area. I'll put them in their mom's crate and lock them up while I clean their area. They watch me and learn it's ok to be locked up while people are around. This will be great when they go to their homes because there are times you want your dog out of the way when you have company. And if a dog is not used to it, they will bark or cry. This way they learn they are fine and I'll remind them to keep quiet.
I will eventually start adding smaller crates. The puppies won't be able to all fit into the same one. They will get down to just one other in with them. Then I move on to crating them separately. By the time they leave here, each puppy will be fine with being alone in their crate. It will be just a little easier when they go to their new home. They will understand the crate is ok and it's their space for sleeping or resting calmly.
Some people think crates are just for puppies. We believe it is for all dogs. All of our dogs appreciate their crates. They go in on their own. Lily Belle hates having her nails done. When I get out the clippers, she runs and stays in her crate. She knows it's safe there and I can't mess with her. It's very important for a dog to have a safe space of their own. Now when I want to do nails, my first step is to lock the door so she can't get in!