Great Crate

We will be getting a Border Collie puppy in a few weeks. I need to decide if we should "crate train" her or section off an area of the house. I work part-time and will be gone all day, 2 days a week. I'm not keen on putting her in a crate that long so I'm leaning towards sectioning off the kitchen. Am I overreacting? Would she really be OK in a crate? Or should I only try that if we have problems?

Normally I would say a resounding "YES!" - crate train your dog. It's one of the best things you can ever do for your dog (and probably your sanity). But under the circumstances you describe, I'd be inclined to say no - that you should confine the dog to a particular area. It depends on two things - how old the puppy is and how long you'll be gone each day.

Puppies, like babies and pregnant women, can't "hold it" for very long, partially due to their small bladder size and partially due to their lack of muscle control. The general rule for a puppy is "One hour for every month" - that is, if the pup is two months old, you shouldn't expect it to hold it for more than two hours. Three months, three hours. And so on. So if your pup will only be 8 weeks old, for example, and you'll be away from the house for 4 hours, then it would be unfair to expect your dog to hold it until your return. The idea behind crating is to improve housebreaking habits and to keep a dog out of trouble. By forcing a dog to urinate in his crate (since he physically can't hold it for that long), you'd actually be creating more housebreaking problems (especially for later on in life) than if you just let the dog do what it wants. So in this circumstance (where you can't be around to housebreak the dog) I'd recommend confining it to the kitchen or other tile surface area and clean up the messes on your return. Though I don't normally advocate paper training a dog, this might be an appropriate situation for just such an approach. And be sure to puppy-proof the area where you're going to confine him. Like the other positive benefit of crating, you need to make sure your dog can't get into trouble or harm's way when you're gone.

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