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the Adult Labrador | Reproduction | Preventative
Obstetrics | Neonatal
Care | Feeding Your New Puppy | Ask the Doc
Bainbridge and friend
Silas and friend
Under most circumstances, I am very cautious about using
the words always or never. Maybe it's my years
of veterinary experience telling me that anything can, and
often will, happen. But, when it comes to "man's best friend",
perhaps the canine's best friend is their crate. The Labradors
Of Bainbridge will always be crate trained, and anyone
who takes one of our pups into their home will always be
thoroughly introduced to the how's and why's of using a crate
for their new puppy. It is simply the best you can do for
your new companion.
You may hear or read different discussions on the proper
utilization of a dog crate, but here is a bit of a look into
our philosophy and the methods we use. From the very first
day your new pup arrives, you should have a crate available.
While some may suggest beginning a young Labrador puppy in
a smaller crate and upsizing at a later time, we start our
pups out in adult Labrador size crates. The dimensions should
be in the range of 40" x 30" x 27", which is the exact size
of the crate seen in the photos on this page. They made be
made of the sturdy, lightweight synthetic material seen here,
or you may choose to have a "wire" crate for your pet. We
utilize both, but the difference is important to consider.
The lighter, plastic ones will easily disassemble at their
midline. They are easy to move from room to room and can
be readily moved to a vehicle for those who like to transport
their pets in a sport utility vehicle, for example. The wire
crate, for our purposes, is more of a stationary object.
It too will collapse and fold up for transport, but it is
heavier and involves a much more cumbersome process to assemble
and break down. We keep a number of the wire crates in our
basement kennel area. They are rather "permanent" in that
the dogs might utilize them on a daily basis but we don't
move them around. Our dogs are so fond of their crates that
they even know which one is their own. When we are ready
to "put them up", they'll actually stand in front of the
door to their crate and wait for us to let them in.
So now that you have your new puppy and his (or her) new
crate, what's next you might ask? You must first realize
that you're not being a cruel person for insisting that your
new friend be crate trained. This is essential and you must
not waiver. Follow the advice of those who have been through
the process, give it a chance, and I am 100% sure that you
will later agree it is one of the best services you can provide
for your new pup. In fact, when your friend or neighbor decides
to add a Lab puppy to their family, you just might find yourself
being the first to advise them on the merits of crate training
The Dark Of Night
Those first few days (actually nights!) will be the toughest.
After that, it's all downhill. The way we approach it, you'll
have several options to choose from. We'll discuss more about
feeding under that individual topic, but for our purposes
here, a new puppy should not be fed within several hours
of "bedtime". We never advise leaving food or water in the
crate with the pup. They can have plenty of toys, other things
to chew on, or a dog biscuit or two. In fact, we generally
give our dogs a biscuit every time we put them in their crate.
(Now you know why they stand at the door waiting to jump
in!). Alright, so everything is prepared. Got the toys, got
the crate, got the biscuits. Now get the dog!
Although we are firm about the use of a crate, we realize
that everyone will find a format that best suits the needs
of their individual household. Please understand that your
pup has been handled and given an awful lot of attention
and affection while being raised. That's one aspect that
may separate The Labradors Of Bainbridge from others. The
biggest obstacle you will encounter will not be due to confinement
in the crate, but rather from the pup's fear of being left
alone with no one around. Remember, she has always had her
siblings to cuddle up with or the warm lap of a human to
curl up on. This is her first experience away from the familiar
environment where she was raised, so keep that in mind the
first few days.
As mentioned above, at bedtime you have several options
depending on your individual situation. Remember that an
eight-week-old puppy will most likely not make it through
the entire night without a trip to the back yard. You may
choose to put the crate in your bedroom, next to your bed,
or at least in close sight so that the pup will be able to
see you. Sometimes, if they begin to cry, just the simple
act of sticking your fingers through the crate will provide
enough reassurance to soothe and settle her down to sleep.
In addition, the closer to the crate that you are, the easier
to awaken when she begins to stir for a trip outside.
Sometimes, when a husband or wife or significant other
doesn't want to be awakened during the night, another method
may work to solve the problem. Try moving the crate and the
puppy to another room of the house, perhaps the family room,
where you can lie on a couch or sofa and keep the pup right
in front of you. This allows one member of the family to
take care of the young pup's needs while the other sleeps
through the night. It works very well, that is of course,
after the decision is made as to who sleeps where!
And then there's the method that we use, weak as we are,
which is to let the pup slip up onto the bed with you and
sleep right next to you. How do you spell instant success?
That's it right there. This helps to get through the first
few nights very easily. At the same time you have the days
to help get the pup accustomed to the crate. A little wimpering
during daylight hours pales in comparison to that heard in
the dark of night.
The Light Of Day
Alright. I understand using the crate at night. But why
do I have to "lock him up in there" during the day. How about
if I block him off in the laundry room? or on the porch?
There's nothing he can hurt there any way. I'll be gone only
a couple of hours and he can play outdoors when I get back.
First of all, you're not "locking him up in there". In
a few days you'll most likely find him wandering into the
crate on his own accord when you're home if you leave the
door open for him.
But better yet, how about if you decide which scenario
has better appeal: (A) You decide Elliott (let's give our
typical pup a name, OK? and we have an Elliott who just may
have gone through a similar stage, so let's borrow his name)
is better in the laundry room than in his crate while you
go out for a few errands. After all, it'll just be for two
hours or so. You barricade the doorway so he can't get out.
Oh yeah, let's not forget the chew-toys. They said he always
should have plenty of toys. And maybe a bit of water in case
he gets thirsty while I'm gone. (Such a thoughtful master!).
Elliott being taken care of, you leave after peeking in,
observing him totally absorbed in that new rope-chew you
just bought him. While starting the car, you mumble to yourself
something that might sound like.......'I don't know why those
people think he has to be in that crate every time I'm gone.
Poor little guy. It'll just be for two hours'.
You return and all is quiet as you enter. You approach
the laundry room to let that cute little Elliott out to play
and then, all of a sudden, as if possessed, you yell out,
(and I only paraphrase here), "Ellllll-eeeee-uuttttt! Look
what you've done! You've got all those toys and you've chewed
a hole in the wall! Right through the #%/*&\ wall! And
you've knocked over your water bowl as well! Go on. Get out
of this house. Now! And you may not ever come in here again!"
While this rampage is occurring, the once cute little puppy
Elliott, is now seen cowering in the corner with his head
down, totally frightened, having no clue what he has done.
After all, everybody knows puppies need to chew. They get
bored easily, too. And he was tired of that rope toy after
a few minutes anyway. And the wall.....well heck, he chewed
on the wall nearly an hour ago. That was before he took a
little nap before you came home. MORAL OF THE STORY: You're
mad, he's frightened, and he has no clue what he's
done, even though you were overheard several times yelling
something about the #%/*&\ wall. This lose-lose situation
could have been avoided by......
(B) You decide Elliott has got to learn to get used to his
crate and the short trip to run a couple of errands provides
a good training session. "Come on, Elliott. Kennel. Good
boy. Your toys are in there and here's a biscuit for you
too. You can have some water when I get back."
With the shopping done, you pull into your driveway, enter
your home and hear some curious thumping noise coming from
the family room where Elliott's crate is. "What can that
be?" You hurry to the den only to find a happy little puppy
who couldn't help from thumping his tail back and forth against
the side of his crate as he playfully greets you, knowing
his master is back and it's time to go out and play together!
What a win-win situation that is!
Moral of the Story:
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