A crate is your absolute best management tool. If you didn’t use a crate when you brought your rescue Brittany home, and you’re not having any behavior problems like chewing, separation anxiety), maybe you don’t want to use a crate. However, if you have any of these issues, please have an open mind about crating your Brittany.
Maybe you used a crate before, but your Brittany whined, barked and generally made a ruckus every time you put him in it. Well, perhaps your Brittany trained you not to use the crate. Pretty smart I think. :)
Always make sure your attitude toward using a crate is 100% POSITIVE. If you feel negative about using a crate, your Brittany will too. The crate is NOT a disciplinary device like a “jail,” so don’t use it as a “jail.” It can be used for “time out,” but it should not ever be considered punishment. This is a safe place for him to be in when he’s overstimulated, or if you have guests and he’s not being appropriate. It’s his den – a natural place for a dog to retreat.
The best way to crate train is to just start using it. Don’t make the mistake of only crate training when you are not home. This can be scary for your dog. Introduce the crate while you are home with him. Have him sleep in it at night and use the crate while you are in the room during the day at first.
It’s important not to respond (or react) to any whining or barking. The sooner you ignore this behavior, the sooner it will go away. Use the crate at night when your dog goes to bed – put the crate in the bedroom with you so he can see you.
In the beginning, feed your Brittany in his crate. Toss a couple of small treats in the crate ahead of him as he goes in the crate. Make it a positive and happy experience for him.
If your Brittany is not acclimating to the crate the way you want him to, take it slow. Initially, leave the crate door open and associate being in the crate with happy things. After a couple of days (while you’re home) begin closing the crate for a few minutes –gradually – lasting up to an hour. If he whines or barks, ignore him until he stops. When he stops, let him out of the crate with a “good dog” in a soft voice. When putting him into the crate, use happy words like “go to bed,” “let’s go to sleep,” “time for bed” and toss in a small treat or two.
There is no need to put water in the crate for your dog unless you are going to leave him for an extended period of time. If leaving him for 4 hours or less, it’s unnecessary to leave water for him.
Another thing to know is that most dogs will not soil their crate once they are used to it. If they do, don’t panic, see if you can get to them before this happens. Take them for a potty break before crating them and again immediately when you let them out.
Your dog will eventually love the crate because it gives him that “den” feeling of security. The most practical is the collapsible wire type. Make sure it will be large enough for the adult dog to be able to stand and turn around, but be most comfortable lying down. Be sure your adult Brittany can stretch out flat on his side without being cramped and sit up without hitting his head on the top. A No. 300 crate is large enough for most Brittanys. The approximate size of a wire crate is 36Lx22Wx25H. It is helpful to get a crate with two door openings – it makes getting in and out easier.
The best crates for traveling are the hard plastic types. Later, when your Brittany is fully crate trained, you can use the new soft-sided crates that are very transportable. They weigh about 10 pounds and are very sturdy and secure. Use these crates for adolescent or adult crate-trained dogs only.
Whenever possible, place the crate near or next to you when you are home – in a “people area” – such as the kitchen, family room, etc. To provide a greater sense of den security and privacy, put it in a corner and/or have the sides or back loosely draped with a sheet. This will encourage the dog to go inside the crate without feeling lonely or isolated when leave. At bedtime, move the crate into your bedroom so he can see you. He will feel much more secure if he can see you. Don’t forget to let him take a potty break before bedtime so he won’t have to go during the night.
Sure, try some bedding at first. I always use old towels – something I don’t care about if they want to destroy it. Don’t put that new $100 dog bed in there – he just might destroy it. My Brittanys prefer towels in their crates – their dog beds make it too hot for them. Besides it’s easy to wash the towels every few days for their (and my) pleasure.
As you can see, when crate training (especially an adult Brittany) you must be patient and understanding, you don’t want to push the dog or you may end up doing more harm than good.
Hopefully you see that crate training will benefit you and your Brittany in many ways. If things don’t go smoothly at first, do not give up. Be consistent and hang in there!
Remember, make sure it’s a POSITIVE experience for your Brittany.