Dogs feel secure in small, enclosed spaces. Crate training is not cruel nor should it be punishment for Puppy. Dogs are den animals and they like to have a place where they can curl up in and feel secure. Choose a crate where he has enough room to stand up, turn around and lie down. Dogs do not like to eliminate where they sleep or eat. However, if you get a huge crate for a small dog he may do so in one end and sleep in the other. For a Labrador puppy, you may need to buy two different crate sizes or purchase a crate with a divider you can adjust as he grows. If you can't get a crate, place your puppy in a small-delimited area like the kitchen or bathroom.
A proper size crate for the puppy should be:
- A calm place to sleep;
- A clean place to eat uninterrupted;
- A safe place to stay.
- A comfortable place to lay down.
Make sure your puppy is very tired and sleepy before putting him in the crate. Use an easy-word command for your dog to enter his crate, for example, "KENNEL"; throw in a treat when the puppy enters, praise him and close the crate door. Remember, your dog still needs time to play and eliminate. Maintain a regular schedule of trips outdoors so as not to confine him too long.
If the puppy first cries when you leave him, leave him alone. The average crying should last a few minutes. Do not pick on him. If the crying last for more than 15-20 minutes, then, he needs some comfort and company. Take him out and play for a little while until he is tired.
If he wakes up in the middle of the night crying, he needs to go potty. It'll take longer this time for him to fall sleep, but sure enough he will.
Your dog can stay in his crate comfortably for twice as many hours as many months old he is,(2 month old pup = 4 hours in his crate). Following this rule, there should not be "accidents" in the crate.
Up to what age do you use the crate? Puppies have to earn their freedom. The moment will come when you have stopped to say "no, leave it" or "drop it" all day long. Leave him roaming free for short periods of time, and then increase them.
A crate is not a substitute for human companionship. Use of a crate should be limited to no more than 4 hours at a time during the day; longer during the night. If your work schedule is longer than that, consider getting a dog walker to exercise the puppy for you at midday. There are also Dog Day Care centers that can have the dog during the day.
Crates are not to be used for punishment. The crate must be viewed by the puppy as a safe place to be. Do not allow your children to torment the puppy while crated. Make sure he has fresh water, a sturdy bed and safe toys (rotate toys daily so he always has different ones and a different combination)
If you stay away from home for 8-9 hours a day, then be prepared to clean the mess, and give your puppy quality time as much as you can. If you stay away from home for more than 9-10 hours a day, then you should not have a puppy. You should wait for the correct time or consider getting an older puppy or adult dog.