We use the term crate training to mean housetraining, even though the crate has more uses than just teaching the puppy clean indoor habits. Poms are clean dogs, and most Poms pick up housetraining quite naturally. If you have been fortunate enough to purchase a puppy from a breeder who introduced the puppy to the crate, then you are ahead of the game. If not, you will introduce the puppy to his crate on the first day. The crate should be in a room of the house where the family spends a lot of time. Place him in his crate for short intervals throughout his first day. Stay in the room with him. Let him see you. Give him a toy and talk encouragingly to him. After two minutes, let him out and praise him. Repeat this same routine an hour later, but this time make him stay for three or four minutes. By the time evening comes, he won’t be afraid of the crate and should be ready for bed.
Consistency is your key to housetraining. A Pom will not housetrain himself. He needs you to watch him vigilantly day – in and day out – at least for the first few months. The crate is helpful because a dog instinctively will not soil his den or sleeping area. Therefore, the crate is the best place for him to sleep overnight and to rest and play when you can’t watch him every minute. By spending happy time in the crate, he will learn to love it as his special place.
Puppies need to potty when they wake up, within a few minutes after eating, after play periods and after brief periods of confinement. Remember that every time the puppy is released from his crate, you should take him outside. Stay with him until he relieves himself. Most pups around 12 weeks of age will need to eliminate at least every hour or so, as many as 10 times a day. Always take the puppy outside to the same area, telling him “Outside” as you go out. Use your chosen potty command when he does his business, lavishing praise on him and repeating your key word. Use the same exit door for your potty trips, and, if feasible, the puppy’s crate should be in the same room as the exit door so you can get him out quickly. Don’t allow him to roam the house until he’s housetrained; how will he find that outside door if he’s three or four rooms away?
Of course, your puppy will have accidents. All puppies do. You wouldn’t expect your toddler to suddenly not need diapers. Potty-training children is actually considerably more difficult than housetraining a Pom puppy. Ask any mother changing the diapers of a 2-year-old!
When you catch your puppy in the act of having an accident, clap your hands loudly, say “aaah! aaah!” and scoop him up to go outside. Your voice should startle him and make him stop. He will finish up outside. Be sure to praise him when he finishes his duty outside. He can then rest in his crate while you clean up.
If you discover the piddle spot after the factmore than three or four seconds — later you’re too late. Puppies only understand in the moment, and will not understand a correction given more than five seconds after the deed. Correcting any later will only cause fear and confusion. Just forget it and vow to be more vigilant.
Never rub your puppy’s nose in his mistake or strike your puppy or adult dog with your hand, a newspaper or other object to correct him. He will not understand and will only become fearful of the person who is hitting him.
One final, but most important, rule of crate use: never, ever use the crate for punishment. Successful crate use depends on your puppy’s positive association with his house. If the crate represents punishment or bad dog stuff, he will resist using it as his safe place. Sure, you can crate your pup while you clean up after he has sorted through the trash. Just don’t do it in an angry fashion or tell him “Bad dog, crate!”
Crates are not only useful in housetraining but also necessary for travel. Likewise, in the home, a crate gives your Pom a place to which he can retire with a special bone, out of the way of foot traffic and not underneath you in the kitchen. A Pom puppy is too small to be loose in the house during busy times, like in the morning when the family is trying to get ready for work. Place the Pom in his crate with a toy and know that he’s safe.
Show puppies also must learn to use a crate, as a crate is the preferred mode of travel to and from the shows. During the show, the Pomeranian will have to remain safely in his crate when he’s not being groomed, trained or exhibited. When you commence crate-training, remain within sight of your dog and give him a toy or something to occupy his mind. Always create a positive association.
To begin with, leave him in the crate for very short spells of just a minute or two, then gradually build up the time span. However, never confine a dog to a crate for long periods. For example, a 3-month-old puppy should never be expected to stay in his crate for more than two or three hours at a time. As the puppy’s bladder control develops, the length of time can be extended, but never for more than five or six hours at a time (unless overnight when the puppy is sleeping). If you are away at work all day, arrange for a neighbor or dog walker to visit midday.