Many people have told me that they think that using a crate for their puppy is cruel. For the first number of months of your puppies life it is necesary and not cruel at all. The crate is used to house train your dog as well as to provide a safe environment from your dog chewing and swallowing items when you cannot be home. It also provides a safe haven for a puppy who is young and insecure when you have to leave. Put a blanket over the cage you will make them feel more secure. When your puppy cries when you put him in the crate it is not because you put him in the crate but rather because you left. When you put them in the crate you can reward them with a treat like… a kong stuffed with peanut butter. You can freeze them so it will take longer to lick out. Or a kong with treats in it. Be careful what you leave in the cage with them because many toys with stuffing or eyes can become caught in the puppies throat. Also, rawhide is never a good choice as dogs can swallow large pieces which also get caught in the throat. When you put your puppy in their crate don’t make a big fuss and instead just create a routine around their being crated so they can anticipate what will happen next. What will happen if I just leave my dog in a designated area in the house instead of the cage – you may ask? The answer is that you may never become house trained which means your dog may spoil the house for the rest of it’s life. If a dog has more space then just his sleeping area he/she will go potty in one area and go back to the sleeping area. If in a cage however which fits mostly just him and his bed then he will not want to spoil his area and will wait untill you let him out. Of course, you must be fair and be there to let your puppy out as often as need be depending on his age. I have spoken to many people who are very frustrated with their older dog who is still soiling the house. No one wants to be in this position as it is very difficult to turn this behaviour around. By crate training your dog at an early age you will train them to go outside for life. Read my previous article called “house training your puppy” for details. In addition, crate training while your puppy is in that chewing phase saves your shoes and potential danger of them swallowing something dangerous. How do you know when your dog doesn’t need the crate anymore? You may try to leave him out for a short time and see what he does. Does he chew things or go potty in the house? If so, then use the crate for another month and try again after that time. Remember to make sure your puppy gets lots of exercise and potty time and then being in the crate is mostly sleep time. A well trained dog makes for a happy family!