Your Questions: Confinement Training?

I love these 'fancy' crates

Hi Katarina,

We are about to bring home a new puppy and have been researching crate training. I feel I have a pretty good idea of it, and am considering using one, but wont leaving my pup outside (with a kennel and bedding) give the same outcome for house training?



Hi Ron, it’s great that you are doing a bit of research before bringing your puppy home, and crate/confinement training will make living with you new puppy much more enjoyable.

The basic principle of confinement training is that you have a puppy-proof place to leave your dog while you cannot supervise them. This stops any unwanted behaviours from being learned, and house trains your dog. If you never allow your puppy to have access to items to chew, climb, tug or wee on, then your puppy will never even think to participate in these behaviours.

It is so much easier to teach/guide the correct behaviours in our dogs from the start, than it is to change learned behaviours.

Your confinement area can be a crate, room with a baby gate as a barrier, play pen or a combination of these areas.

You can use your confinement areas in such circumstances as,

– When you are on the phone

– When you are busy completing household chores

– When you are having a shower

– When the kids are running around the house like maniacs

– When you are tired and need a break from your puppy

– When you are sleeping

– When you travel to other places

If you invest in a good crate it can be used for so many reasons and really will provide you with some respite from caring and training a puppy.

I recommend the crate in the beginning because it is small enough that your puppy will not toilet while inside it. Crates are great for toilet training. If you have a larger area for him, including the back yard, you will not be able to supervise toileting habits.

If you cannot supervise toileting habits you cannot teach your puppy where they should ‘go’, nor can you put a word to the behaviour of eliminating. You will need to put a word to this behaviour so that eventually you can have your puppy ‘go’ whenever you need them to. This is very handy for when you go visiting, or if you want to give your puppy some free running inside the house.

Being out in the yard is technically not teaching your puppy how to behave in and around the house. While out there your puppy could be engaging in all sorts of mischief, learning behaviours that you may not want them to learn. However, I think all dogs need to be comfortable with being outside occasionally, as this is necessary sometimes.

As your puppy grows, and becomes toilet trained, I love to have a confinement area that has access to outside. I have a great set up where the laundry is the confinement area, it is just off the kitchen so my dog can see me and be close to me, but it also has a dog door leading to outside. It is perfect.

Your dogs’ confinement area can be used throughout his life, but I always like to have the goal of being able to (eventually) give my dog the free run of the house, even while I’m not at home. However, please understand that this may take years to achieve.

So, Ron, use the back yard by all means, but not exclusively, and before you do, move anything of value out of the garden. Add some environment enrichment, and give your puppy some edible chews whenever you put him outside or in his confinement areas.

All the best.



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