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Dog Tip: Bedtime for Puppy

By Robin Tierney

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Today's tips come from "Caring for Your New Puppy," by Pat Miller (from Your Dog, published by Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine). Many of the concepts can apply to more mature dogs as well.

* Encourage and reward the pup for going into the crate. Make the crate an enjoyable place with several toys and comfy, clean, easy-to-wash bedding.

* At bedtime, keep the crate in your bedroom so he doesn't feel isolated, and so you can hear him if he wakes in the middle of the night to go out. PAW volunteer Jennifer Parker has found this technique effective; when she hears rustling, she whisks the puppy outside.

* If a puppy cries for awhile in the crate and you ignore him, he usually will stop crying and fall asleep. (If you console or play with him, that teaches him that crying will be rewarded.) If he cries nonstop for longer than 15 minutes or seems panicky, work with him later to get him used to accepting being crated. If he wakes up during the night and cries, take him outside, since he probably has to go. Praise and reward him when he potties, then return him to the crate.

* Train your puppy to sit quietly when he wants to be released from his crate or pen. Teach him that when you approach the door or gate, he must sit before you open it. If he jumps up, turn away. When he sits, start to open the door. But if he gets up turn away again. He will soon realize that if he sits and stays sitting, the door will open. If he gets up before you release him, close the door again.

* You don't have to ask him to sit. You actually want him to choose to sit because that gets him what he wants -- out. This is a key to positive reinforcement training.