Tag Archives: crate training

How Do I Keep My Dog From Escaping The Cage or Crate?

The question always comes up, “How do I keep my dog from escaping his or her crate (cage)?” This is a very simple question; however, more of a complex answer. First off, many dogs who are escape artists and are constantly escaping their cage, may have some form of separation anxiety.

There are a couple things you can do in order to keep your dog from escaping his or her crate. You probably have one of the cheaper standard collapsible crates that most people buy because they are the most widely available at all major stores and they are fairly inexpensive. So, if this is the case, my first piece of advice is to try to zip-tie all of the sides of the crate. So, on all 4 corners, have 2 zip ties (one at the top and one at the bottom).

If your dog is still escaping the cage, then I would recommend you upgrade to a much more durable crate which is literally impossible for them to destroy or escape out of. Since I do not promote any specific business or brand, I would advise you to do an internet search on “military working dog crates” and you will see many of the crates I am speaking about. These are VERY durable, sturdy, rugged, and indestructible cages which literally make it impossible for your dog to escape.

Many people balk at the seemingly expensive prices of $400.00-$500.00 for these crates; however. you must keep in mind a few things before you are quick to rule them out. The first thing is that these will literally last YOU a lifetime, not the dog a lifetime, but YOU a lifetime. They are pretty much solid metal and indestructible, so it’s a life-long crate. Second, if you continue using the cheap $80.00 cages that your dog has been escaping, he is likely causing damage in your house (if they have separation anxiety), so a couch, pair of shoes, carpet (etc), can cost you well over $400.00-$500.00 in damages in just one escape. Therefore, you should look at it as a very good investment; meaning, you have it for life and your dog is not able to destroy anything in the house.

So, if you have found that your dog is an escape artist and continues to escape from their crate, try one of these two solutions above! The solution with zip-ties is by far the cheapest solution that works for many dogs; however, if it does not work you should consider making the investment and upgrading.

Lastly, exercise is very important for all breeds of dogs; however, it can drastically help with this issue in many cases, as well. Remember the great saying, “A bored dog is a destructive dog” and “A tired dog is a calm dog.” So, try to ensure your dog is getting plenty of exercise and or mental stimulation whenever possible which can drastically help improve this, as well.


How Do I Train My New Puppy – Northern Virginia


Bringing home a new puppy is like Christmas every morning, until you realize that you need to house train your puppy. You know, those mornings when you wake up to a mess in your floor. Many people wonder, “How do I train my new puppy?” House training a new puppy can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Between getting up at night to take them potty, to learning proper ways to teach them how to potty outside, and not in the house, it can become overwhelming for new owners. At our puppy training classes in Northern Virginia, we do a puppy consultation to help get you and your dogs on the right path.  Here are some helpful hints to ease the transition from new puppy to house trained pet.
Hint #1: Practice Makes Perfect: Like little kids, potty training a puppy is all about perseverance. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Taking your puppy out once an hour, and more often they smaller they are, will give your puppy a chance to relieve themselves outside. It will also teach them, with continued success, that going potty outside is preferred. 
Hint #2: Be Prepared: Have a crate readily available when you bring home your new puppy.  A crate is imperative in the house breaking process.  Your dog should be in the crate unless he/she is being “directly” supervised.  A new puppy should spend a good portion of their life in the crate.  So, ensure during the phase of house training your puppy, if you do not have DIRECT supervision, they should be crated. As I say all of the time, “A crib is just a crate for a baby.”
Hint #3: Get Help: Like most humans, we all think we need to be the doers of everything. We don’t want to appear weak, needy or incapable; so instead of asking for help when we need it, we overload ourselves. If you’re schedule is packed, and you don’t have time; or if this is your first puppy, get some professional help. Find a puppy trainer in Northern Virginia to give you some advice on how to get your puppy trained and house ready. You may find you even want to give your pup a few obedience lessons as well just for good measure. 
Hint #4: If He Goes, You Go: Puppies usually aren’t the only ones who need a little training. Especially if you’ve never had a pup before, it will inevitably do you some good to learn a lesson or two. Your best option, and your first one, should be to find a qualified dog trainer in Virginia, who can coach you and your new pup on how to interact with each other. While your puppy is learning everything he needs to know to be a great pet, you’ll be learning the tools you need to be a great master and companion.

Hint #5: Cut Off Water Early:

If you are average person that goes to bed around 10:00pm or so, you should cut off your puppies’ food and water around 6:00pm-7:00pm.  This ensures that almost all of the food and water has passed through his/her system before bed.  This way you don’t find yourself waking up as much in the middle of the night.

Hint #6: Start Confidence Building Drills and Socialization:

If you look throughout the blog, you will see our articles on confidence building drills such as How To Get Your Dog Over A Fear Of Noises, Object Desensitization, and Socialization and why they are imperative with a young pup.


Whether this is your first attempt at training a puppy, or you’re an old pro, it never hurts to have some help along the way. Whether that’s an extra pair of hands to clean up, a pair of legs to run your pup outside or a trainer to help you both out, you’ll both be better off in the end. To find a qualified professional in your area, try an internet search for K9 Trainers in Virginia, or go to www.offleashk9training.com

Nick White

How To House Train (Potty Train) A Puppy – Northern Virginia


dog training 2

First off, congratulations on your new perfect puppy! Many people do not realize how much work some puppies can be for the first six months of their lives, and that’s just the beginning. As you’ve learned, house breaking a puppy can seem impossible. Essentially, it is like having a newborn baby in many ways as you may have already figured out. Puppies require constant attention and, just like babies, are more than likely waking you up in the middle of the night.

In general, with crate training for your dog, your puppy should be almost completely housebroken by the age of four to five months. This age can vary depending on how effective you are throughout this process. Remember, your dog does not decide how long it takes to be house-trained, you do. We go over this subject daily for our puppy training in Northern Virginia.

You are probably wondering, “Where do I start?” First, get a crate, preferably one with a divider so you can expand the living space for your pup as it grows. It is nearly impossible to house-train a puppy without using a crate. Housebreaking a puppy is based entirely on the crate-training system. Crate training teaches a puppy the crate is its spot to go; it’s the equivalent of its home. More important, it becomes a location to hold your puppy during the housebreaking process when he cannot be directly supervised.

Pick a crate big enough for your dog to lie down, stand up (without his or her back touching the top of the cage), and spin around in a circle. Do not put a small puppy inside a large crate. They should have not have much more room than described above. I always recommend getting a large crate that has the adjustable divider in it. This way, you only need to buy one crate and can adjust the space as your puppy grows. If you find your puppy is going to the restroom inside the crate, you may want to reduce the size of the space. Often, if the crate is too large in relation to the size of your puppy, he does not have a problem going in the back corner of the crate because he can get far enough away from the mess that it doesn’t affect him as much.

Your puppy should be in its crate a lot for the first couple of months it is home with you. Don’t feel bad about keeping him in the crate. To put it into perspective, a crib is simply a crate for babies. You put babies in their cribs to protect them from themselves. A puppy should be looked at the same way.

Take the initiative with your puppy. As a general rule, your puppy will have to go outside approximately 30 minutes after eating or drinking. So if you know he just ate or drank a lot of water, take the initiative and take him out; do not wait for him to go in the house. Also, it is a good idea to take him out after a good play session in the house. If you are playing tug, chasing the ball, or getting the puppy really excited, it is always a good idea to take the initiative and take him out after these sessions, as well.

Using a keyword phrase during housebreaking is very important. From the first day you get your puppy, start to implement a keyword while your puppy is going to the restroom outside. Most people prefer the phrase “go potty.” So any time your pup is sniffing in the grass when you take him outside, repeat the key phrase “go potty.” As soon as your pup uses the restroom, immediately praise him (verbally, physically, and/or with a treat). Over time, he will associate the key phrase “go potty” with the act of going to the restroom, about a month into the housebreaking process. After this period, if you see your pup start to display that he is going to go to the restroom in the house (tail up, sniffing around in circles, etc.), repeat that phrase he has been hearing from day one, “Do you have to go potty?” He will recognize that key phrase he has associated with going outside and will run to the door, indicating that he does indeed have to go out. This is the first step of progress for housebreaking.

Use a bell on a string to teach your puppy to let you know that he has to go outside. Tie a bell to the end of a string and hang it from the doorknob at approximately your pup’s chest level. Every time you take your pup outside, ring the bell with his paw. Praise him immediately and open the door. Doing this every time you go out teaches the dog that ringing the bell equals the door opening. Over a period of time, your pup will learn: “If I have to go outside to the restroom, I ring bell and the door opens.”

The most important thing to effectively housebreak your puppy is total supervision. I will state it again, because it is that important: total supervision..What does that mean? Simple; it means if your puppy is not inside its crate, you or another member of the household should be directly supervising him. Until the pup is completely housebroken, there should never come a time when he is in a room alone. To put it into perspective, if you are downstairs with your puppy and decide to take a shower, even if it is just five minutes, put your pup inside its crate. Again, think of your pup as a baby. If you have a baby and you are going to jump in the shower or leave the room to fold laundry, would you leave a baby just sitting in the living room by itself? No, you would put it in the crib. Again, a crib is simply a crate for babies. When doing our puppy training in Northern Virginia, we generally realize this is people’s biggest mistake, lack of supervision.

If, while supervising your pup, you see him squat and start peeing or pooping, immediately give a loud verbal, “No!” Pick him up, immediately take him outside, and set him down in the yard. Then repeat that key phrase, “Go potty.” As soon as he finishes, give praise (verbal, physical, and/or a treat) and take him back inside. There should never be any punishment involved. Rubbing his nose in it, hitting him, rolling a newspaper—these are all things that are proven ineffective. More important, it just breaks down the bond between you and your pup. Physically punishing a puppy for going to the restroom in the house is like spanking a one-year-old for going in their diaper.

Many people ask, “What if I didn’t catch him in the act, but noticed he went to the restroom in the house?” Very simple, do absolutely nothing. That’s right, do absolutely nothing. Write it off as a failure on your part, clean it up, and move on. Again, do not punish the puppy. You failed him, he did not fail you. You violated the biggest rule in housebreaking: You failed to give him total supervision. This is so important it is worth mentioning once more: If you do not physically catch your dog in the act, chalk it up to a loss on your behalf and move on. Make it your goal to catch him every single time. For every time your pup goes in the house without being caught in the act, you add a few more days to the housebreaking process. So, if he is going in the house a couple times per day without getting caught in the act, the housebreaking process can be really prolonged.

Your puppy should sleep in the crate every night when you go to bed (again, because if you are sleeping, you cannot directly supervise him). When you first wake up in the morning, take him from the crate straight outside and use the key phrase (“Go potty”). If your puppy does not go to the restroom, take him back in the house and put him back into the crate. Approximately 15 to 20 minutes later. take him out of the crate, back outside, and repeat the process. Repeat this until your puppy does go to the restroom outside. This does two things: It prevents him from coming back in and minutes later going to the restroom in your house and will teach your puppy that he has to go to the restroom or he will keep going back into the crate until he does. After a few days of this, he will just go outside the first time you take him out. After he goes to the restroom outside, bring him back into your house and leave him out of the crate, remembering to directly supervise him.

We recommend that you do not put padding in the crate until the pup is housebroken and more mature. We stress this point daily at our dog training in Northern Virginia, Off-Leash K9 Training. We feel this is important for a couple of reasons. Most important, if you are gone, your puppy will more than likely chew, shred, or eat this padding/bedding at some point, which can become a choking hazard for a small puppy. Additionally, often puppies who have padding in the crate will still urinate in their crate because the padding acts as a sponge and absorbs the urine. Therefore, it does not bother them to urinate there; the padding acts as a diaper.

What about puppy pads? I think puppy pads are a bad idea, especially if you have a puppy that will grow into a large dog. Puppy pads teach the puppy it’s okay to go to the restroom in the house, however, only in this specific area. I find it much easier to teach them it’s never acceptable to go to the restroom in the house. Additionally, as the pup grows into a larger dog, do you really want them going to the restroom inside your house? They may go in a specific spot, however, the smell usually permeates the whole house.

Another important thing to remember is to never let your dog out of the crate if he is actively barking or whining. This will teach your dog that if he barks and whines long enough, you will let him out. It is like the child who throws a fit in the middle of the toy store, and then the parents buy the kid a toy. The child simply learns that if he makes a big enough scene, he will get his way. Dogs learn the same way. So never let your dog out of the crate if he is actively barking or whining. Doing so rewards bad behavior. Your pup should learn that he gets out of the crate only when he is quiet. Just to clarify, your new puppy may whine in the middle of the night to let you know he has to go out. It is then acceptable to let him out of the crate, take him outside, use the key phrase, then come back in. However, once your puppy is old enough to hold it throughout the night (generally around three to four months of age), never let him out based on whining or barking.
During the housebreaking process, we usually recommend cutting off food and water around 7 p.m. This is done to ensure that all of the water has passed through the pup’s system by the time you go to sleep (assuming you are going to bed around 9 p.m. or later). If you cut off food and water at around 7 p.m., it will minimize having to go in the middle of the night. Additionally, do not put food or water in the crate with the pup; again, this will cause him to have to go to the restroom in the middle of the night.

Never use the crate as a place to punish your puppy, as hard as it sometimes may be. If you start using the crate as a place of punishment, the pup will start to hate it, will not want to go in, and will no longer see it as its “home.” Rather, he will see at is a prison. The crate should always be looked upon as something positive. The crate should be seen by the dog, as you see your bedroom, as a place to go, get away, and relax. It is also a good practice to feed him in the crate or give him a treat every time he goes in, again, associating it with something positive. When we do our puppy training program in Northern Virginia, we always stress the importance of this.

If you follow all these principles, you should have a very short housebreaking process and a dog that loves going into the crate.

Nick White

Related Keywords by design Off Leash K9 Training is a specialist in dog training in northern virginia. Teach your dog to behave with dog training from Off Leash K9 Training in Northern Virginia Maryland Baltimore and Washington DC. dog trainers, northern virginia dog trainers, dog training in northern virginia, virginia dog trainers, washington dc dog trainers, baltimore dog training, dog trainers in virginia, annapolis dog trainers

Nosework Training Virginia Dog Training and dog trainers in Virginia, VA canine behavior experts. Offering an alternative to lessons, dog obedience and puppy classes in Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Blacksburg, Bon Air, Bristol, Burke, Charlottesville, Chesapeake, Christiansburg, Colonial Heights, Dale City, Danville, Fairfax, Fredericksburg, Front Royal, Glen Allen, Hampton, Harrisonburg, Highland Springs, Hopewell, Laurel, Leesburg, Lynchburg, Manassas, Martinsville, Mount Vernon, Newport News, Norfolk, Petersburg, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Radford, Reston, Roanoke, Salem, Staunton, Suffolk, Tuckahoe, Virginia Beach, Waynesboro, Williamsburg and Winchester Virginia.