We are brining home our pembroke, Riley, on Sunday.  Everything I've read about crate training has said not to just put the dog in there but to use treats to train him to use the crate making sure to take it slowly.  If that's the case, how do I bring him home?  It's a 2 1/2 hour ride home from the breeder.  Also, where would he sleep the first nights if I can't just put him in the crate?  I want to make sure we do train him correctly, so I'm a little confused. 


Thanks for all of your help!



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Hi Amy, when we first brought Mocha home, we didn't have a crate, he slept in my wife's lap in my old t-shirt with my scent, we also rubbed his parents and littermate's scent with my shirt. If you already brought a crate, you can put your t-shirt in the crate, Riley will find comfort in that. Always keep your crate in the centre of all actions, if you're going to be in the living room, put the crate in a place where he can see you, if you go to sleep, put the crate where he can see you. You may lose 2 nights of sleep, but don't budge, he'll get used to it. Always associate the crate with positive happy things, you can feed him in it, keep his favourite things in it, leave the door open most of the time, only when you can't supervise (sleep for eg). Congrats and good luck!
I got Orion a little over a month ago and here is what I did:
On the five hour trip home I went with my mother so she could drive and I could just let Orion sit in my lap on the way back. (Plus, going on a 5 hour round trip drive for you is safer with another person anyways, just in case)
When I got Orion home that night I waited for him to get sleeping and simply put him in his kennel. I have a LifeStages crate with the movable wall and I made it a comfortable size for him at the time: small enough that he couldn't potty in one end and then sleep in the other but big enough he can lay stretched out. He went to bed around midnight and got me up with some whining at about 7:30 the next morning to go out to pee and poop. Every night since then I've made sure he's sleepy before I put him in the crate and I've never had any howling/protests/whining until the next morning when he needs to go out to potty. Every night he sleeps AT LEAST 7 hours since I got him (at 8 and a half weeks old) and has never ever woken me up in the middle of the night because I make sure he gets worn out during the day.

I free-feed Orion so this is how I did my potty training during the day:
Every morning he goes out immediately and pees and poops. I carried him out so there were no accidents along the way. If he only peed I'd take him inside and set him by the food bowl. After he ate I'd put him back outside and he'd usually poop. If I stood out there for 20 minutes and nothing happened, I'd bring him back in and watch carefully. If I saw any sniffing or wandering away from toys or people I'd take him back out. If someone was not available to keep an extremely close eye on him he would go into the crate but never longer for an hour. When he was playing really rough with toys or my brother's dog, I'd take him out about every 15-30 minutes because he had a harder time controlling his bladder. After naps I'd take him out, if he didn't pee I'd either crate him for ten minutes and try again or literally follow him around to watch for sniffing for ten minutes and take him out of I saw ANY sniffing before the ten minutes was up. You'll start to see how your pup acts when he needs to go.

Tip: NEVER second guess yourself. All the accidents I've ever had were when I saw him doing something that may resemble needing to go then thought to myself "nah, he just went out, he doesn't need to go again."

If you have any more questions you're free to ask, I just went through all this puppy stuff myself so I may be able to help.
I definitely second the advice about not second guessing yourself - this is all too true of our experience as well. And for the first little while, ANYTHING out of the ordinary, take the dog outside! The first time we brought Casey downstairs (which is carpeted, unlike our mainfloor), she puttered around a bit, and then suddenly, out of nowhere came over and started barking at my husband and myself while we were sitting on the couch. I was like "how bizarre. Why is she barking at us?" And we just ignored her because we didn't want to encourage the behaviour - sure enough, 10 seconds later she walks over to the corner of the basement and starts peeing. ACK! We both felt like such fools - she was like "HEY! I NEED TO PEE!!!" and we ignored her like the idiots that we were, lol. Lesson learned.
We did something similar to Sam and Monica - I drove and Casey sat in my husband’s lap.

If you really can't get someone to go with you for the drive, then definitely be prepared for 2 1/2 hours of whining, and you'll want to make sure you stop for at least one potty break before you get home unless you want a messy crate. And whatever you do, for Pete’s sake, don’t let it out while it’s whining. The one thing you don’t want to do is teach it that the car stops and it gets out of the crate while it’s whining – that would be a really annoying habit to try and break, and much more dangerous (in terms of driving distraction) than whining in the house where you can simply leave the room.

Put lots of toys, maybe a kong with some food in it, and if possible, something smelling like his mom/littermates in with the crate. It's not the ideal situation, but you make do with what you've got.
I think crate-training advice is a little confusing. When we got Jack from the breeder, it was about a two-hour ride and we just put him right in the crate. There are not many options and a puppy on your lap can be seriously injured if there is even a fender-bender and it flies out of your arms. He cried for awhile, napped, cried again, and napped again.

When we got home, we set up a crate with an ex-pen attached. We put him in the pen, which he was used to, and gave him some treats and stuff in the crate, and then locked him overnight. He cried for five minutes and went to sleep. He'd not been crated, but he'd been in a pen and had spent a little time in a run with littermates, so he was used to being confined.

The problem with slow intros is I never really heard a good explanation of what to do with pup in the meantime! Talk to the breeder; maybe she can put him in a crate a few times with some treats before you get him to ease the transition. Good luck!
In my case, a slow intro worked very well because we dropped the crate off at the breeders the week before we were to pick Casey up. The breeder kept Casey and a sibling in her kitchen with the crate (door off so they could come and go freely) for the last week she was there. She spent the day with everyone else, then the first 5 days of the week with her sibling in the kitchen, then the last two days by herself (if I remember correctly). She could come and go from the crate as she pleased, and typically slept in the crate with her sibling, and wandered the kitchen for food, potty-breaks on newspaper, playing, etc.

This was a slow intro in that she gradually introduced herself to the crate as she saw fit. I think this could actually be do-able in a kitchen at a person's new home if they really felt like investing the time and didn't mind possible bathroom accidents on the floor. That said, had we not had the opportunity to leave the crate at the breeder’s house, I would not have chosen this route personally. I'm pretty cold-hearted, and probably would have just put her in the crate (obviously with a toy or two and a treat), closed the door at night and been done with it, lol.

It certainly depends on the dog, but I most definitely have heard crated dogs who do not quiet down quickly (my sisters Springer Spaniel comes to mind, who spent hours whining the first several times he was crated. Good lord that dog was unhappy.
I have had 5 pups and always used and still use crates. From the time I pick them up and always in the car to when they can't be supervised and at night. My dogs love their crates and some do eat in them,nap in them go in them to get away...it's their "safe" haven. At night I always put them in there with an old towel and a toy or stuffed animal next to my bed...some cried a little but I would dangle my hand or pet them a bit and they would be fine. As long as they don't feel like they are being punished by getting "stuck" in there I really don't see a problem. I send a blanket with the pups that leave with their littermates scent...so you might want to take a small blanket and ask if you can do that...as well as mom and dads scent! Congratulations!
Like the other people who commented, Donny rode in my lap on the ride home while someone else drove. He slept the whole time, and when he did wake up, he was more interested in observing and chewing a treat than trying to escape. He was 8 weeks old, and it was a 6 hour drive.
I preferred this over a crate because Donovan had never seen a crate before, and I wanted his first time away from his mother to be less scary. However, it's really a matter of preference. I don't think it'll be traumatizing if it's easier to use a crate.

Also, the puppy will cry the first night guaranteed. Play with him until he's about to drop, and then put him in a divided crate with a towel/blanket and something to chew if he wakes up. He will sleep sporadically, and cry no matter what. But be comforted by the fact that he's not crying about being in the crate-- he's crying because he's lonely.

Feed him in his crate, use positive crate training during the day, and he'll learn to accept it as his assigned sleeping place. Donovan hated his crate at first-- a few weeks later, if he heard me brushing my teeth he'd race to lie down inside it, excited about bedtime. It really works. :)
Don;t worry about the slow introduction to the crate. Just make sure you aren't just shoving him in there. Make sure you talk to him in a comforting tone when you place him in the kennel the first time and if possible place the kennel so he can see you as you are driving and keep up the dialogue the entire way home. I did this with Ella and she whined a little but quickly got over it. As Sam said, make sure he can always see you and keep the kennel in the center of the action. Make him feel like the kennel is a safe and happy place.

When it comes to potty training with the kennel, make sure you have a Kennel that is small enough that he won;t be able to potty in one corner and then sleep in another. Also, the first few days he should stay in the kennel most of the time. When you take him out DO NOT let his feet touch the carpet. This will most likely lead to an accident because puppies instinct is to pee on the first soft thing they touch. Place him on the grass and gently reinforce the potty command. If he starts to play stop him and again reinforce going potty. If he doesn;t go then place him back in the kennel. Wait 10 mins then try again. If he does go let him stay out of the kennel for some playtime. Generally 15 mins or so then straight back to the kennel. Rinse and repeat. While potty training I make sure playtime is carried out inside so potty and play are not confused.
Thank you all so much for the great advice! My kids (12 and 10) will be with me when we go to get Riley, so they will be able to help with keeping him engaged on our ride home. I feel better about the crate thanks to all of your suggestions. It going to be a wild and wonderful next couple of months!
One thing we found with Jack was that the sudden intro to the crate did not make him dislike the crate, but the traumatic exposure to the car made him hate the car! So what we did was as soon as he cleared the vet's check-up (he'd already had two sets of shots), we started taking him on lots of short car trips to fun places. We'd literally put him in the car and drive him to another part of the park two blocks away, say, and then take him out and make a nice fuss over him and let him sniff and roll around in the grass, and then crate him up and take him home. It took a few trips, but he soon learned that car= fun places and got over his dislike of the car in a hurry.
I was just coming back to make a similar comment. People talk about the "critical period" of puppyhood and how they can be scarred for life by events that take place within that period. While I think there's truth to it, it's not as dogmatic as some would have you believe. If you put the dog in the crate, it may or may not have a negative memory of it (sort of depends on how you do it) but even if it's not that pleasant, you can work at these things and it's not the end of the world. Casey was the same with the car at first, but eventually realized that the car goes fun places more often than bad places (and I didn't do anything as intensive as Beth to teach her that). Now when we go outside and she sees the garage door open, she bee-lines it straight for the car knowing that we're probably going to a hiking trail or the dog park. Positive experiences have simply become more prevalent than negative ones (the vet, leaving the breeder, etc.)

A personal anecdote: when Casey was about 3 months old, we were standing next to our garage and, not thinking about it, I pushed the button to close the garage door. It makes some crazy high-pitched squeaking noises and is kind of loud when it shuts, and Casey FREAKED OUT and ran under the deck like Freddy Kruger was coming to get her. She was wide-eyed, panting and scratching to try and get away. I was convinced that I had totally scarred her for life and she would forever be afraid of the garage door. Well, a few weeks ago (at about 10 months old) we were leaving the garage after parking the car and as we were walking to the backyard I started closing the garage door. Not only did she not even notice the door was closing, she wandered back under the closing door into the garage (What a dummy - fortunately, we have one of those motion sensors on the bottom of the door which if tripped, make the door go back up). I didn't do anything intentional to habitualize her to the door or make it a positive experience, but she certainly isn't scarred for life.


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