All puppy owners… let’s hear it one time for dog boxes! *AMEN*
Now, as with most things, there is a correct and incorrect way to use a box. Listen. I live in a small house with four dogs. Not just dogs, young dogs. That means that I have a few puppies running around here and right when they reach puberty („yayyy“ *sarcastically toots party whistle*), along comes the next puppy! (If you’re wondering why so many dogs come through here – I train guide dogs for the blind.)
How do I keep from going crazy? Well, for the most part I don’t. But what really helps are my boxes. Oh, those boxes… swoon. So let’s get down to why I am, and so many trainers are, such a fan of boxes.
First of all, the key for any of this magic to work, is that your dog goes into the box willingly. It should be his calm, happy place. Like when you are eating donuts, wearing your favourite leggings and looking out over the ocean. That’s how the box should be for your dog!! Well, close.
How do we get our dog used to the box? Patience. Every dog is different and some will run into the box to see what’s up before you’ve even opened the door all the way. Others may very well be hesitant – and rightfully so. Imagine someone was trying to put you in a box, lock the door behind you and leave? No, sir! Uh, uh! Not on my watch!
So getting them used to it is the most important step and is not to be skipped over. Set the box up in a quiet area where there is as much quiet and peacefulness as possible. Leave the door open and don’t attempt to close it. Feed your dog in the box (door open) and keep the water bowl in there (still keeping that door open! I’m watching you!). Water is life and food is comfort. Your dog is getting both of those things from this box, which is a great start. Reward them for any interest in the box and, for scared dogs, give them a treat or praise for even looking at it. Once your dog has no problem with walking right on in, you can start closing the door. Close it just a bit and then let your dog leave. Then a bit more the next time. At some point you can close it, give your dog some food and let him out 5 minutes later. You get the jist. Do this until your dog has no problem staying in there for a while.
How you use a box depends on why you need it. In this post I will be covering how and why I use a box with my young dogs. Stay tuned for future posts. I will designate each post about box training to a specific behaviour.
Darn puppies. This is my reason for using a box. My puppies need to learn not to pee or poop in the house and not destroy anything when I’m gone.
How? When I leave them for any period of time or at night, my pupplets are in their box. This prevents them from ever even experiencing doing the wrong thing, aka chewing something or urinating on the carpet. Read more about avoiding rehearsal by clicking here. When I am with them they are always out of the box. The box is and never will be a way to simply „get rid of“ my dogs. Why this works so well, is that they never make these habits when I am gone and when I’m present, I can correct or react accordingly. That means every time they displayed an unwanted behaviour, they got a correction for it. That is the only way you can 100% train them to not do something.
Even if they only get away with something 2% of the time, that’s still a 2% chance for success!
End goal? The end goal with puppies should always be that you don’t need the box! You do this by increasing the time that the puppy isn’t put in there when you leave. In the beginning (when they’re 9 weeks old, for example), I won’t leave them alone at all. Slowly, as I notice their behaviour improve, I leave them out while I am gone for 5 minutes, then 10, then a half hour, then an hour and at some point I realise they will be fine without a box.
Tada! Puppy training without tears, frustration and a trip to the dump to throw away everything your dog chewed up! Your home will stay in one piece and your dog will be perfectly house trained.
What to keep in mind… While box training can be very practical, never leave your dog in their for over 5 hours and even that should be an exception. Especially puppies need to go out regularly to pee and poop until they have developed more bladder control. While they may hold it in a bit if they are in a box, it is not fair to keep them in there for too long. The whole point of this is that they learn to do their business outside.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you have a box? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments!
This post is also available in: English (Englisch)