crate training

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“You have to help us - he’s shredding our hands,” wailed the girl on the phone. 

“He just goes mad - he’s vicious!

She was talking about her new puppy - a Cocker Spaniel crossed with a Poodle (a difficult mix at the best of times). I asked the puppy’s age. 

“He’s eleven weeks. OW! Scamp, NO! Get off! Oh no, my jumper …”

 “How long has Scamp been awake?” I asked.

“Only three hours,” she replied.

“Then there’s your problem. Put him straight to bed. Now.”

With a puppy as young as Scamp, one hour of being awake is usually quite enough. Time to put him away in his crate for a ziz. 

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With my latest puppy Coco, I would shut him in his crate at nap time, put a blanket over the top and three sides to make a cosy den, leave the room and shut the door. There’d be a bone or chew toy if he felt the need to do something. If there was a lot of noise outside I would play soothing music to mask it.

Any noise from the puppy before falling asleep would be totally ignored, so he quickly didn’t bother to make any. If your puppy is bored, sleep will soon waft over him!

When I returned a couple of hours later, my blissfully relaxed puppy would be stretching and smiling and ready to start the adventure again. Check out this piece for exactly how to achieve this blessed state!

As he grew he was able to manage longer times of being up and doing. 

Getting frayed and fractious, bitey and snappy, is a sure sign of an overtired puppy who is unable to control himself. Time to pop him in his crate or playpen, leave him in peace and wait for him to awaken refreshed.

Older Dogs

And the same goes for older dogs. They need their beauty sleep! And they need much more than they’re usually allowed. Research has shown that an adult dog needs 17 hours of sleep a day to be mentally and physically healthy. 17 hours! How many dogs get that much sleep?

If your dog seems to be on the go the whole time, running himself ragged, chasing birds, chewing up anything he finds, alert at the smallest sound - you need to organise proper nap times, just as you would for a young child. Make them part of your routine so that your dog’s internal clock gets in sync with them.

At the moment I am working, so my dogs are all snoozing. They no longer need to be confined to a crate as they were as young puppies. There are many beds here and they are free to sleep where they will. 

How well do you feel after a good night’s sleep? Your dog needs much more than you do to feel as good! Check out this post to find out more. | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #puppynipping, #newrescuedog, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog |

So Cricket the Whippet is sunbathing on the grass outside. Rollo the Border Collie is dozing in the shade. Coco is on a hammock bed near me, and Lacy is on the floor just behind my chair. 

Not only are they going to awake rested, but I can work undisturbed. I can pay lots of attention to them when I’m ready, and I know nothing in the house or garden will have been damaged.

Early crate training ensured that the only chewing they ever did was of the approved items (bones, toys) which lived in their crates. Establishing early habits like this is hugely helpful later on. The chewing habit doesn’t have to be broken because it never got out of hand!

Start on Day 1

So start as you mean to continue, with lots of naps throughout the day for your young pup or new rescue dog. This will build a lasting routine for your puppy, and help to build feelings of security and confidence for your new rescue dog (who doesn’t need to brave the big bad world yet. Not until she knows this is home and you can be trusted to keep her safe.)

Always start from where you are! We can’t alter the past. We can just assess the present situation, see where it needs to improve, and change the future.

Dogs need to sleep much longer than most people think. Find out how to get some much-needed peace and calm from your over-excited dog | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #puppynipping, #newrescuedog, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog |

So your present dog, who races round all day and never sleeps, will need to start with short naps - gradually getting longer - with you still around. Feeding all meals in the crate will help her to love the place, and a foodtoy to lick and slurp while dozing off will be ideal. 

Teaching her how to relax on her mat will help her learn how to switch off. This book will show you how, in easy steps.

Yes, you can have a calm house and a relaxed dog. The first step is to sort out sleeping times.

Sleep is the great healer!

Check out our Free Courses and Courses pages to see how else you can help your mad dog become your Brilliant Family Dog!

“I know he's only a puppy, but …” What you expect is what you get!

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The lady on the phone sounded harassed. 

She was ringing to look for help with her 16-week-old puppy. 

I asked her how her puppy was doing, and she replied:

“He’s very bitey, and he jumps up on everyone. I can’t tell you how many things he’s destroyed. I’m looking forward to him being clean and dry in the house - we’re not there yet. I know he’s only a puppy, so perhaps I’m expecting too much.”

No! You’re expecting far too little!

I had to explain to this caring owner that she was asking too little of her puppy, and instead of giving him the chance to grow, she was keeping him a baby.

With the exception of the jumping up, which can take longer (more anon), all of these things should be resolved by 10-12 weeks.

The sooner you start, the better!

And the longer you leave it, the more you have to undo!

That’s why I welcome puppies at Puppy Class from 9 weeks of age. And my own puppies are learning from the moment they come through the door - at 7 or 8 weeks.

The new arrival

When your puppy first arrives, it’s very simple to lay down the ground rules. He’s tiny, a bit anxious, eager to please, ready to learn, bursting with enthusiasm, and he needs to sleep most of the time. What better time to start building a solid relationship of trust?

Using a crate from Day 1 answers most of the problems this lady was having. If a crate is not possible, then at least have a puppy playpen or baby-gates. But a crate is best and will establish firm boundaries for the future.

1. If he gets too bitey in play, this is a sure sign that he’s overtired and needs a nap: into the crate for a while for a restorative ziz

2. Always wait till he’s stopped bouncing before you open the crate door - you may need to walk away from the crate and come back a good few times before he realises that staying still opens the door, but bouncing keeps it shut. Then greet him at his level as he emerges while you clip the lead on and whiz him out to the garden for a pee.

3. He can’t destroy anything if he’s in his crate with his chewtoys at those times when you can’t be actively supervising him. Bliss! Remember he needs oceans of sleep. If he’s been awake for an hour you’re back to No.1 above.

4. Housetraining is a breeze when you use the crate and some simple rules. Free download here


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I don’t want my dog to think the crate is a punishment

I don’t know why I sometimes meet resistance to the use of a crate. 

Most parents will use a cot for their baby or toddler to ensure that she’s safe and secure when left alone. The crate is the exact same thing for a puppy. 

There is no hint of punishment. So, just as with your baby, put the puppy in the crate, shut the crate door, and leave the room. 

He’s safe. He can sleep. A well-reared puppy is unlikely to soil his bed. You can relax and do something else for a while.

And know that you’re putting your puppy on the path to becoming a Brilliant Family Dog right from the start.

It’s all about connection

If you can make a connection with your dog, you can build trust, understanding, confidence. 

The quickest and best way to make this connection is through Choice Training.  Have a look at how fast people were getting results on my recent 5 day online Workshop:

Chewie waits patiently instead of jumping up to steal the food!

Chewie waits patiently instead of jumping up to steal the food!

“Just want to say a massive thank you for the 5 day Workshop. Chewie would jump up and try and grab and bite me if I was prepping food. Now he’s lying down with treats dropping. Loving his focus.”
Jan & Chewie

“Thank you Beverley from Molly and me! We have enjoyed the workshop immensely and made a lot of progress in a short time.”  Robin & Molly

“Bonnie and I are having great fun with the Sit Game - all round the house and outside too. Feels like she’s listening better and I’m more relevant to her when there’s distractions (and she’s a working cocker spaniel with a history of pulling like a train!).”
Sheila & Bonnie

“Really enjoying the Workshop. Willow now getting so much better and more eye contact. Thank you for all your time and hard work putting this together.”
Pat & Willow and Poppy

“I was amazed at the results encountered during your 5-day workshop and could not wait to get started on this course*.”
Scott & Gabriel and Gizmo


*What course is Scott talking about? Our new online Puppy and Dog Courses! 

Want to join us and get results like this?  Yes - as you can see above, you CAN learn all this online, and transform your life with your dog.

The course is now open for enrolment and you’ll be able to check out the course for yourself before jumping in.

Got an older dog that you need a bit of help with? There’s also a course specially designed for the dog just out of puppyhood

How can I stop my dog doing stuff I don't like?

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People are often looking for an instant fix to something they don’t like. 

Me too! 

I’d like a magic wand to wave over life’s problems. Trouble is, people come to me thinking I can wave a magic wand over their dog’s problems and they won’t have to do a thing. 

A recent query was along the lines of, “My dog runs around barking all day in the garden. How can I stop him?”

You don’t have to be a genius to see that your first step must be - don’t leave him unattended in the garden! You can’t hope to change his behaviour until you’ve changed things enough to prevent him indulging in it.

My dog keeps … [insert annoyance here]!

Here are some starters for you:

    •    Jumping up on the furniture
    •    Raiding the bin
    •    Running off on walks
    •    Barking
    •    Destroying shoes
    •    you name it

Whenever someone tells me one of these things, I have one (smug) question:

“Where were you when he was doing all this?”

If you cannot yet trust your dog in any of these areas, then you shouldn’t give him the freedom to carry on doing what you don't like!

Practice makes Perfect - this doesn’t just apply to piano and tennis!

Every time your dog indulges in one of these annoying activities he’s getting more fun from it, and getting better at it. It becomes a habit - and we all know how hard habits can be to break.

The good news is that good habits are just as hard to break as bad ones.

Free online training workshop for you and your dog!

Free online training workshop for you and your dog!

  • If your toddler had a fascination for the oven, you wouldn’t be leaving her unattended in the kitchen.

  • If your 6-year-old is a danger on his bike, you wouldn’t let him out on the road on his own.

  • If your teenager was beginning to mix with the wrong crowd, you wouldn’t be cheerily waving him goodbye of an evening, knowing you’ll be finding him in the police station later that night.

So if your dog is doing something you don’t like, the first thing to do is make sure he can’t do it. 

  • You can shut the door to the front room when you’re not there (this will prevent chewing the furniture and barking at the window).

  • You keep your dog in the same space (room/garden) as you so he can’t chew shoes, raid bins, dig up the flowerbeds, bark at the moon.

  • And if he runs off on walks - you use a long line so that he can roam but not ramble.

That's just for starters ...

Now that isn’t the end of the story. And none of this should be forever. 

Once you’ve got a measure of control over the situation, and you’ve removed the frustration and the yelling, you can start to re-teach your dog what you’d like him to do. 

Dogs don’t exist in a vacuum. They can’t NOT do something - they’re doers.

So once you’ve eliminated what you don’t like, the way is open to change your dog’s habits to what you do like.

So come and join our free 5-day Workshop today! 5 days of free online training, with videos, text, and live broadcasts. You’ll get to meet a host of other lovely dog-owners who are looking to improve the connection between them and their dogs.


Check out my new online Challenging Dog Mini-Course and Wild Puppy Mini-Course teaching new dog and puppy owners to achieve lasting results through a few crucial lessons of dog-friendly training





Errorless Housetraining and Crate Training

Let’s get something out of the way first:

  • “It’s cruel to put a puppy in a crate”

  • “We do have a crate, but we never shut the door”

  • “I don’t want him to see his crate as a punishment”

  • “We’re saving money by getting a crate that will fit him when he’s full-grown”

These are common responses I hear when I ask owners if they have a crate for their puppy.

My thoughts:

  • Do you think it’s cruel to put a baby in a cot or playpen?

  • Would you leave your toddler loose in the house at night without supervision?

  • I bet your child’s bed is full of cuddly toys, books, comforters, and he’s happy there

  • Do your children look like extras from St.Trinian’s, with their jumpers down to their knees so you can save money?

The only way a crate would be cruel would be if your dog were left locked in it all day. The same would hold true for leaving your toddler in a cot or playpen all day! The crate is an excellent help for keeping a puppy safe in his new home, and is your best friend when it comes to housetraining - and to getting a good night’s sleep.

So now we’ve got those misunderstandings cleared up, you’re ready to set off on your Errorless Housetraining - with the crate doing a lot of the work for you!

Get your free guide to Errorless Housetraining and have it all done in a week or two!

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A Word About Crates

The crate should be safe and secure, and strong enough not to distort in shape. Your first crate doesn’t need to be big and strong enough to restrain an elephant! Don’t put a puppy in a soft fabric crate - it’s too inviting for him to chew and shred it. Do use a custom car-crate for safety in the car. If you have a tunnelling breed, like a whippet or a terrier, provide lots of blankets and bedding he can dig into, like a hamster. If you have a “hot” dog, like a border collie or gundog, just a flat comfy bed will do well.

For total success with your puppy housetraining, much faster than you might expect, you’re going to take advantage of two important facts about puppies:

1. They need to sleep a minimum of 17 hours a day

Seventeen hours is what adult dogs need. So a puppy will obviously need more. It’s a lot more sleep than many new owners allow their puppy, and they’re amazed to find that a lot of minor irritations and things they considered problem behaviours can be resolved by simply ensuring sufficient downtime. All that sleep needs to take place in your pup’s crate. So when it’s time for a rest (after maybe one hour of activity) you take your puppy to bed, shut the crate door, and leave him to settle. Half-cover the crate with a blanket so it’s a cosy den. You can feed all your dog’s meals in his crate so he’s always happy to go there, and when you leave him, give him a food-toy or something he can safely chew.

2. A well-reared puppy will not soil his bed

This is why you want to get a crate that is the right size for him now. If you must get a giant crate for your little puppy, block off the greater part of it with the custom divider or cardboard boxes. It doesn’t matter if your puppy shreds the boxes - we want his sleeping area just big enough for him to lie down, stand up, and turn round. Just as our beds just fit us for sleeping. Always leave chew toys so he has something to amuse him as he nods off. Classical music playing on the radio is calming to many dogs.

The Early Days

When you bring your new puppy or your new rescue dog home, you needn’t expect perfect behaviour from the get-go. There is a honeymoon period to work through - you want to build a terrific relationship with your new family member, and you don’t want that relationship marred by barking commands at your dog, or telling him off for some transgression of which he has no idea!

As Housetraining, along with Socialisation and Familiarisation, are the key things to focus on at this early stage, you want to make it as painless as possible for both of you. So that means getting it right from the start.

Your puppy is going to need to wee and poo. A lot. Your job is simply to make sure it all happens where you want it to - i.e. outside. You need to be taking him out, on a lead, much more often than you think! Every half hour is a good rule of thumb, and more often if your little puppy is active and playing.

You need to keep him on lead until he’s done his business, then you can let him off to explore the garden and play with you. If you take him out without a lead, he’s more likely to bounce about chasing butterflies and sniffing leaves, so that when you get bored and bring him back in, he still has a full bladder or bowels. Keeping him on lead focusses his attention on what he needs to do.

Your puppy will gradually earn his freedom in the house as he shows that he can perform immediately when you take him outside.

People are sometimes baffled that their puppy is still not housetrained - they tell me they leave the door open for him all the time. This is why he’s not done yet! He will continue to pee wherever he happens to be. Sometimes that’s outside and you’re happy, and sometimes it’s inside, and you’re not. How baffling for him! You need to show him that he goes outside for this purpose, and he won’t learn if he can wander in and out, chasing those butterflies, whenever he wants.

No newspaper please

Another wrong turning people may take - especially if they’ve been taking their advice from uninformed friends or the local pet shop - is to use paper pads for their puppy to eliminate on. How is this puppy going to learn that this should take place outside?

I have known people who live in high-rise flats - where it would be impossible to race down the stairs with a puppy every few minutes! - successfully use an indoor toiletting arrangement. But this needs to be a particular, clearly-bordered area (like a giant tea-tray) in a specific place - perhaps the bathroom, or on a balcony. This puppy will also need to be taught to use the great outdoors too when on walks.

I expect my pups to be clean and dry by night at 7-9 weeks, and by day at 8-12 weeks. A puppy who is still not housetrained at 17 weeks is one who has developed habits which you will now have to change.

How much easier to start off doing it right and not letting these poor habits develop!

Get my Cheat Sheet for Errorless Housetraining and focus entirely on this for a couple of weeks. You’ll be surprised how quickly it will work for you!


For help with lots of the other issues facing a new dog-owner, get our free e-course which takes you step-by-step through the everyday problems you may have with your puppy - and gives you force-free solutions which are effective, and fun!

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Housetraining your puppy the easy way