My wife and I are picking up our new lab pup this weekend (from a reputable breeder) . I've done a lot of research into training methods/etc that we want to do, and most things are fairly clear to us (we will also be taking her to puppy pre-school as soon as she's able to get more training advice). The one thing that's been confusing me is a typical crate training schedule.
I guess what I mean is, every source I've read is lacking in specifics. They say you should crate your puppy, take her out at least every 2-3 hours to go to the bathroom, and have "supervised play" etc after she's "done her business". That's all well and good, but I guess my question is, does that mean the puppy is spending 2.5 hours out of every 3 in her crate (the other 30 minutes being potty and play time)? Or does she spend half her time out of her crate (right after the bathroom break) and the other half in it? Or will she just need to be in her crate for the last hour before she needs to pee? I would guess that the most effective (in potty training) method involved the longest time in the crate, but how do you balance that with need to play/exercise?
Oh, and as far as access to water, would you have water in the crate with her, or only when she comes out to play?
Thanks everyone, getting very excited, but also quite nervous, I don't want to screw this up!
No. The crate should be used when you cannot supervise the puppy. But when the puppy is out of the crate you need to be paying attention adn get them out to potty often and see any tiny indicator they will be (the way they turn their read, turn around, stop doing something, sniff...)
I would not put water in the crate. Some will remove water an hour or two before bedtime to help them hold it in longer (though they may not hold it in all night for a few weeks). give fairly free access to water when they are out of the crate.
you do need to let them OUT of the crate to potty before they need to go (ideally). to help on this teh crate shoudl only be big enough for them to get up and turn around. But you need to keep track of how long they have been in there, and how long it has been since their last pee.
The "general" guideline is that they can hold it an hour per month of age. If they are sleeping they may be able to hodl it a little longer (like overnight) but when they are moving and playing and awake they will need to go out more often. sometimes every 30 minutes.
If you bring the puppy outside at a time they "should" need to pee and they do not (and you have been out there awhile, dog on leash so they are not distracted) then I would put the dog in the crate w hen you get back in and try again in 5 minutes.
puppy classes are actually as much about socliasation (to humans, other dogs, new place, hopefully objects and such) than training.
for the record, we all make mistakes. you will screw up now and then, that's perfectly fine. it's not a science.
Charlie (foster) and Rocky
Yep - I think Tanya covered a lot of it. Many people use the crate at night, while the owners are at work and any time the dog can't be 100% supervised (such as running to the store, taking a shower, mowing the lawn, etc). Outside of the crate I would have the dog tethered to you with a leash so that if it starts to have an accident, you will catch them in the act and can run them outside immediately to finish. Always throw a party and give them lots of praise when they go potty outside.
One mistake I made was putting Abbey's crate in the basement when she was a puppy. If I could do it over again, I would have put the crate in my bedroom close to where I sleep. You can pick up the water an hour or two before you plan to go to bed and then do a "last out" right when you are going to sleep. For the first couple of weeks, I would plan on taking the pup out once during the night. No playing or anything, just outside to potty and back to the crate. Then outside again as soon as you're up in the morning.
As Tanya said, many of the crates come with dividers. My dogs each fit in a 36" crate, but you could get the one size up from that if you wanted to (42"?). You will want to put the divider where the dog has enough room to stand up, turn around and lay down. Don't give them free reign of the crate as a puppy since they will likely potty in one corner and then lay where it's dry. As the dog gets bigger, you can move the divider to give them more room.