Crates are a relatively recent development in the gundog world. Once sceptical about their value, I am now a complete convert. A correctly situated crate not only provides a safe, warm, dry place for a pup to sleep, it will also help you greatly with his education in several ways.
Firstly by restricting his experiences to those that you have chosen. In other words the crate will protect him from the hazards of your home, and your home from the hazards of his sharp teeth during all those times when you cannot be watching him closely. Protecting him this way prevents him getting into bad habits.
Secondly the crate will help greatly with your puppy’s housetraining programme.
However I would add the following proviso. It is important to remember that a crate is not a substitute for a kennel A properly designed kennel is a safe and appropriate place for a dog to spend much of it’s life when it is not being trained, exercised or worked. It contains space for the dog to stretch it’s legs, walk around, and a place to sleep. It also contains an area where a dog can empty it’s bowels and bladder away from it’s sleeping quarters.
A crate on the other hand should be big enough only that the dog can hold it’s head naturally, and turn around in comfort. It should be small enough that the dog will not consider emptying itself in the crate, the whole container constitutes the dog’s sleeping quarters, and sleeping is mostly what the dog will do in the crate. If the crate is too big the dog may mentally divide it in two – one section for sleeping, the other as a toilet.
A dog should never be left in the crate for long periods of time apart from during the night when an adult dog can be left for 7 to 8 hours. A puppy should only be crated for short, periods. Because most dogs find it distressing to empty themselves in their own bed, a puppy should never be crated so long that it is forced to do this.
It is not unkind to crate a puppy appropriately. The crate represents the safety of the ‘den’. This is a natural concept for a dog. A puppy quickly learns to love its crate.