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How to Crate Train a Golden Retriever Puppy

Crate Training is the Best Puppy Potty Training Method

Potty training a puppy is one of the biggest concerns for new puppy owners. Golden Retrievers are bright, easily trained dogs, and will learn to use the outdoors for bathroom needs very quickly. Crate training is the fastest, most efficient way to housebreak a Golden Retriever puppy.

Puppies, by nature, will not defecate or urinate in their sleeping area. While there is a very rare pup which will defy this rule, nearly every dog will refrain from soiling their bedding area. Crate training is a tool to achieve a potty trained puppy, and is based on the dog’s instinctive need to keep their bed area clean.

An appropriately sized crate serves as the puppy’s bed, and the dog is placed in the crate when it cannot be supervised by the rest of the family. The puppy will not soil the crate, as long as certain rules are followed (see the section below). When the puppy is taken outside after each period in the crate, he will go to the bathroom in the appropriate location. After a short period of time, the dog learns that the house is not a bathroom and that the backyard is the appropriate location to do his business!

Puppies should be placed in their crates at night for the first year: after that period of time, accidents are extremely unlikely. Most dogs will potty train in a very short period of time (2-3 weeks) and become reliably housebroken after a month of crate training.

Choosing a Dog Crate

A puppy’s crate should be large enough for the puppy to stand up, turn around, and lie down. The crate should not be too large, as the dog may designate an area of the crate as a bathroom area. In addition, the crate should not be too small: the dog must be able to turn around comfortably when inside the crate. A Golden Retriever puppy will grow very quickly, so owners must purchase a larger crate as the dog outgrows his “puppy” crate.

Wire crates are superior to wooden crates, as Golden Retriever puppies love to chew! A wooden crate will soon be partially eaten, which could be dangerous to the puppy’s digestive system.

Choosing the Right Dog Crate Size

Dog Size Appropriate Crate Size Appropriate Crate Length
Up to 12 pounds Extra Small 18″-22″ long
11-25 pounds Small 24″
26-40 pounds Medium 30″
41-70 pounds Intermediate 36″
71-90 pounds Large 42″
91-110 pounds Extra Large 48″
111-125 pounds Extra Extra Large 54″

How to Introduce the Crate

Golden Retriever puppies are extremely willing to please, and love their owners. Most young puppies will be dismayed at being separated from their owners, and may cry during the night. There are several tips to helping a young Golden Retriever puppy learn to embrace his crate:

  • Feed the puppy in his crate. He will associate his crate with a positive experience.
  • Hide treats in the crate. He will love searching for his treats under an old bath towel.
  • Place his favorite toys in the crate.
  • Praise the puppy when he goes into his crate.

Over time, the puppy will learn to see the crate as a safe haven, and will enjoy sleeping in his “home.”

Never use the crate as a punishment.

Introducing a Golden Retriever Puppy to a Crate

Some Basic Guidelines to Housebreaking a Puppy

If the Golden Retriever puppy is less than 8 weeks old, it will not have any bladder control. It is impossible to crate train a puppy at this age, so do not begin crate training until a puppy is at least 8 weeks old.

In addition, puppies that are 2-3 months old will have a very limited bladder capacity. They will need frequent outings to go to the bathroom in the great outdoors: if a very young puppy is left in a crate for an extended period of time, it may go to the bathroom inside the crate out of necessity. This will make the rest of crate training ineffective, so ensure the puppy is taken outside at regular intervals. Some puppies will need to go outside in the middle of the night!

Dogs should not be placed in crates for extended periods of time. If the dog owner is gone from the house for long durations, the dog should be placed in a puppy pen with puppy training pads instead of a crate.

When to Expect From Puppy Bathroom Breaks

  1. A young Golden Retriever puppy will need to urinate when he wakes up, so every puppy should be taken outside immediately after waking from a nap.
  2. Within 30 minutes of eating a meal, most puppies will need to take a potty break. The food in the dog’s stomach places pressure on the bowels and bladder.
  3. If a very young puppy (8-11 weeks of age) has gone more than an hour between bathroom breaks, take the puppy outside to an area already marked with the scent of his urine. This will encourage him to go potty. In addition, it is a good idea to use the same command whenever he goes to the bathroom: say “potty” or another appropriate phrase, then reward the puppy when he performs.

Other Benefits of Crate Training Dogs

There are many benefits for crate training a young Golden Retriever puppy. Using a crate will cut puppy potty training time in half. In addition, using a crate when the dog is not immediately supervised will prevent the puppy from eating or chewing on anything dangerous. Valuable household furniture and children’s toys will be spared from the dog’s incessant need to chew! The dog will learn which toys are “his” faster, because he will associate them with his crate. Crates can also be used in the car, keeping the dog safe during road trips. Driving is much safer when a curious puppy is kept from jumping on the driver’s lap!