It is important that your dog can relax in the crate; therefore it must be of a big enough size.
For potty trained or adult dogs, the crate must be big enough for him to sit up without bending the neck. We cannot expect the dog to lie down and remain horizontal for hours at a time.
Most crates follow the same ratio between height, width, and depth. As long as you know one dimension, you can choose a sufficient crate. Ask your dog to sit, measure him to the top of his head and add 3-5 inches.
When potty training or puppy training, the crate must be just big enough for the dog to lie down. We are trying to entice the dog not to go to the bathroom due to the lack of space. The best crate for this is the one that comes with a divider that you can move as the dog grows. Once the dog is potty trained, there is no need for small spaces.
An exception to the rule is traveling in the car. The crate can be big enough for the dog to lie down without sitting up. There are crates that are designed specifically for vehicles. The are more narrow and tall. My favorite product is MidWest Solutions Series Side by Side Double Door SUV Dog Crate
Every blog will start with the reminder that there is no one method that works for all dogs.
There have been many sleep studies completed on humans and we see numerous articles addressing the need for sleep to maintain a healthy nervous system. For instance, lack of sleep causes these side effects in children:
Overly emotional (explosive temper tantrums, easily hurt feelings, no patience)
Difficulty concentrating or focusing during play
Defiant or contrary behavior
Difficulty falling asleep (overtired)
Accident prone, or clumsy
Excessive talking (more questions than normal or frenzied conversation)
Unfortunately, no studies have been done on the lack of sleep and behavioral changes in canines. At least, none that I have ever seen. If you have seen an article on this subject, please send me a link (research articles not editorials). It has been mentioned by multiple sources that adult dogs sleep on average 12-14 hours a day and puppies 18-20 hours a day. Of course, the definition of the age of a puppy was not specified.
I do Board and Train for 3 weeks in my home. I usually receive dogs that have issues focusing, experience bouts of hyper-activity with a low level threshold for overstimulation leading to excessive biting and jumping. After 3 weeks in my home, every dog goes home much calmer and with higher levels of self-control. One of my clients referred to it as more “mindful.”
For the first week, I do not train the dog – we hang out in the house or back yard, and the dog is put up for frequent napping. Some dogs protest to this schedule but after a few days fall into the habit.
The other part of my business is in-home visits. After hundreds of interviews, I discovered that an average puppy simply does not get enough rest to recharge the nervous system. Most of my clients work throughout the day and suffer from the severe guilt of not being able to spend an adequate amount of time with the puppy. Once they get home at 6 pm, the puppy is lose until the puppy passes out of exhaustion. Day after day the puppy is becoming conditioned to go longer and longer without a nap at the same time showing stronger signals of overstimulation:
Lack of focus.
Increase reactivity (biting and jumping).
Reduced ability to follow known cues or commands.
Reduced capability to learn new behaviors.
To ensure your puppy is easier to live with and has a resilient nervous system, please follow these simple guidelines. Trust me, you will see results.
This is based on my experience and should be used as a guidance only. Some puppies may need even more rest others less. Your puppy’s overexcitement should be your guidance.
For puppies under 6 months of age.
Assuming office workers family, if not, follow weekend routine:
During the day out of the crate for 45 minutes (constant supervision, interspersed with play/training mini sessions). Followed by a minimum of 2 hours in the crate.
3-8 or more hours of uninterrupted sleep based on potty training success.
At least 30-45 minutes of activity before going to work. Somebody must take the puppy out at lunch. Evening – 45 minutes out followed by 1 hour in the crate repeated until bedtime.
For puppies 6-14 months of age:
During the day out of the crate for 1 hour (constant supervision, interspersed with play/training mini sessions). Followed by a minimum of 2 hours in the crate.
8 or more hours of uninterrupted sleep.
At least 30-45 minutes of activity before going to work. It would be wonderful if somebody could take the puppy out at lunch. Evening – 1 hour out followed by 1 hour in the crate repeated until bedtime.
Dog 14 -18 months
During the day out of the crate for 1.5 hours out (supervision, interspersed with play/training mini sessions). Followed by a minimum of 2 hours in the crate.
8 or more hours of uninterrupted sleep based.
At least 30-45 minutes of activity before going to work. It would be wonderful if somebody could take the dog out at lunch. Evening – 1 hour out followed by 1 hour in the crate repeated until bedtime.
Once the dog is old enough to be lose in the house, they might be conditioned to take frequent naps without overexerting their system. If the dog reverts to hyper-activity – go back to crating.
The only reason there may be issues with the program above is due to separation anxiety, which will be a separate topic later on.
Please ensure that the crate is located in a separate area with a door closed to provide as much quiet and peace as possible.
The quality of your dog’s rest also depends on the level of previous mental stimulation. When the dog is out, please find at least a few minutes here and there to work with him on something new.