Doing time in the pen
I use a puppy exercise pen indoors as well as a crate. The two are not joined in any way and they are aimed at teaching my pup two very different lessons.
First the crates purpose
I want my dog to sleep in the crate, saves it barking and waking me up and finding something it likes to do that doesn’t include me. I want my dog to relax in the crate, saves my dog making a play ground of my house and toys of my things.
I want to toilet train my pup, save turning my house into a toilet and the crate helps this because the puppy will not want to toilet where it sleeps and eats. What I don’t use the crate for is to store the dog in the house whilst I am busy, doing this can easily label the crate a jail cell and the puppy will want to always get out.
So I use an exercise pen, in fact when I have a puppy I have a few set up around my house so I can put the puppy in there whenever I am not supervising it.
All the pups I breed are conditioned to the puppy pen from a very young age.
The puppy pen has different rules such as, you don’t have to be calm in the puppy pen, you can play rowdy if you like. You don’t have to relax and you can have loads of toys in there too.
So I look at it this way, when the puppy is indoors it can be one of three places: –
- In the crate, resting after exercise, sleeping etc.
- In the exercise pen, playing, playing with toys, resting, sleeping, chilling out.
- With me, training, playing, learning.
If I try and eliminate the crate or the pen from this equation, I end up kicking myself for not toileting the pup often enough, not removing my belongings from the pups chew reach etc. In fact it sets me up to fail.
In these three places the ratios will vary and I want to have the exercise pen eliminated from my house by the time the pup is 20 weeks.
Sometimes I will have the pup out with me more, when I am working with it, supervising etc.
I am also mindful that as I am building a puppy that is really into me, and not really into anything else, I need to teach the pup that won’t always be here and being on your own is ok too.
This happens when I put toys such as Invincible etc in the play pen, the pup plays with them and any time I walk by, I reach in and put some movement into the cube. Then I walk off leaving the pup thrashing the cube.
The pup watching me walk off whilst it is being rewarded in the pen by the cube is a very helpful mental health exercise for the puppy. Watching me walk away shouldn’t set the puppy off.
I will often sit next to the puppy pen, lay next to it etc and give the puppy treats in there too, talk to the puppy as I walk by etc as well. It is a management area where the puppy has some freedom, independence but not totally with me.
In the first few weeks I also have my phone timer set for two hours, and every two hours I will take the puppy to the toilet.
This helps me teaching the pup to go every two hours in the beginning.
Remembering that pups will toilet after they sleep, play and eat.
In the pic you can see my dog Venom when he was about 14 weeks old in one of our puppy pens on the back veranda. Super chilled out whilst he enjoys a nap and here again below in his crate.