The thought of isolating a dog in a small space seems cruel, especially when you see how happy dogs are when they run around outside. But in reality, crating satisfies a dog’s natural desire to live in a den.
When you use a crate for toilet training your puppy, your dog takes on the instincts of its ancestors. In the wild, wolves settled in dens when they were about to give birth to their young. These natural dens share the same dimensions as modern crates. This offers a very limited living space, something that both wolves and dogs know.
For this reason, they do as much as they can to keep the area clean. This means urinating and defecating outside, an instinct that remains even with today’s domestic dog. As a result, when a puppy is placed in a crate, it will hold itself to prevent soiling his living area.
There is an exception to this rule. If a newspaper, litter box or puppy pad is placed inside of the crate, the dog may relieve themselves in that area. However, if you are toilet training you puppy in this manner, you would have to leave them in the crate for a very long period of time.
This might be tricky, since a young puppy shouldn’t be left alone for more than 40 minutes at a time. As they get older, you can leave them in there for a couple of hours. In either case, the main goal is to encourage the dog to relieve themselves out of necessity.
Even in a small space, a puppy designates which area he will sleep in, and which area will serve as his bathroom. Again, this all goes back to what wolves did in the wild. If there was a situation where they couldn’t get out of their den, they had to make amends when it came time for using the bathroom.
In conclusion, crating is an excellent technique for toilet training your puppy. It reinforces natural instincts while keeping accidents under control. It can also serve as a quick-start method for other forms of toilet training. Just don’t go overboard with it.
While crating is considered humane, a puppy still has emotions. In the wild, he would’ve bonded with his mother in a den. In a domestic situation, his parent/master is out of the crate, something you must remember when using this method.