As you are housebreaking your puppy you will also be training him to stay in a kennel or crate. A lot of people think the kennel is a punishment for a poorly behaved dog, but that is not at all the case. The kennel is his very own space. He will enjoy it and probably spend time in the kennel even when the door is open.
Training your dog to stay in a kennel when you are not home or are asleep saves a great deal of anxiety for both you and your new pet. As stated before, dogs are den dwelling animals. The feel of a small space is comforting to them. You may even want to cover a wire cage so that he feels even more secure inside it. Dogs also have no sense of time. That is why they are always excited to see you, whether you have been gone ten minutes or ten hours. When they are in the kennel all they will do is sleep. When you are not home and they are out of the kennel they will either sleep or get into trouble. Putting the puppy in a kennel saves them from getting into trouble.
Kennel training your dog is also a great step in avoiding unwanted behaviors like digging in garbage cans, chewing on non-toys, and climbing on furniture. It also protects him from getting in a dangerous situation in your home. Dogs will eat things they are not supposed to eat or get trapped in small places very easily. Puppies are in even greater danger because of their small size and lack of depth perception, so a kennel is really a safety precaution.
There are two standard types of dog kennels, the wire mesh ones and the plastic kind. Both are good choices for your dog. If you plan to travel by plane with your puppy you might want to invest in an airline approved crate, which typically is the plastic kind. The wire mesh ones are collapsible which makes them easy to move and to clean.
When you first bring the puppy home he might not readily go into the kennel. Make it appealing by placing treats or toys inside. Again, use a simple command like “inside” or “kennel up” repeatedly until your dog goes in the kennel. Once he is inside reward him with praise and a treat. You will be surprised to find that after a while you will not even need to give the command. Your dog will pick up on cues like putting on your coat, or grabbing your keys and purse and go into the kennel on his own.
Do not be alarmed if your dog whines a little bit when he is inside the kennel. It is not because he wants out, rather because he wants you inside with him. Dogs crave your constant attention, but he needs to learn to be comfortable by himself and in his own space. You might go over and offer him a few comforting words, but do not sit nervously by him or let him out when he behaves this way. Doing that will only enforce the whining and he will train you instead of you training him.
Some people choose to place a dog bed or blanket inside the kennel to make him more comfortable. As your dog gets older and larger he might not need the blanket, especially if you live in a hot climate. But, while he is a puppy it is a great comfort item. You might even put in a piece of clothing that smells like you to give him more comfort. Some people recommend keeping water in the kennel or feeding the puppy in it. The choice is up to you, but be aware that both of these have the potential to create quite a big mess.
One of the best ways to make sure your puppy is comfortable is to keep him near you. The kennel should be strategically placed in an area that the family hangs out in most of the time. The family room is a good choice as opposed to a bedroom that is often empty. Having the kennel in the family room will encourage your puppy to sit in there while the rest of you are watching television or having other family time. If you do not like the look of a kennel consider dressing it up so that it fits with your decor better. You can easily cut a piece of wood to fit the top of it and then place a tablecloth or other fabric over it. Then it simply looks like an end table and not a dog kennel in your living room.
A puppy should never be in the kennel for more then eight hours at a time. If this means that you have to come home at lunch or wake up during the night to let the dog out, then you must do those things. Think about that time commitment before you bring the dog home. Also, the kennel should never be a place of punishment. When your dog is put in the kennel he should go in happily, knowing that you will be back and that he is not in trouble.