One of the most important pieces of equipment you can buy for your whippet puppy is their crate. A crate keeps them safe when you can’t watch them. A crate helps you housebreak them. A crate will keep them from jumping all over you in the car. It’s a place they can feel safe and rest. Hopefully when your whippet puppy comes home they will have already spent some time in a crate at the breeder’s house. It will make it much easier for you.
Make the crate a fun place
The first thing you should do is make the crate a fun place. If your puppy has never seen a crate they might be intimidated by it. Toss a few treats inside and let them explore on their own rather than tossing them in. Feed them their meals in the crate. You want to build up a positive association with going in the crate and good things happening. A great method for building up a positive association with the crate is to use Susan Garrett’s Crate Games. The crate will also be a place you will put your puppy after they’ve done something naughty, like shred toilet paper all over the house or explode a bag of flour in the kitchen. Just resist the urge, however powerful, to put them in the crate angrily or use it as a punishment. When you have to leave them alone in the crate try to start with short periods and gradually increase the length of time. Hopefully you have a few days off or at least a long weekend to work on this. Leave your puppy with something interesting that they can’t hurt themselves on or choke on. A puppy kong (not for vigorous chewers) filled with something yummy is a good distraction. Step outside the room so they can’t see you. Wait 30 seconds and come back in. Don’t make a big fuss when you leave or come back. Don’t come back in if the pup is fussing. Gradually increase the time you are away, to a minute, a few minutes, 15 minutes, etc.
Surviving the Night
The first few nights with you whippet puppy may be rough. Remember that everything is different for them, the only life and world they’ve known for the past 9-12 weeks is gone. Even if your pup has some crate experience they may cry the first couple of nights. You can cave in now and let them sleep in your bed, just realize that if you do this they will expect to always be able to sleep in bed with you. What is sweet and adorable with a 10lb puppy may not be so cute when they are 40lbs and all knees and elbows. If you decide you want them to sleep in their crate here are some tips to make it through the first few nights.
- Put the crate at your bedside so the puppy can see you.
- Put an old old stinky tshirt that you’ve worn in the crate with them.
- If they aren’t soiling the crate place some soft bedding or padding in with them.
- Put a surrogate Mom in the crate with them. You can buy these, or use a hot water bottle and a noise maker (ticking clock to simulate heartbeat).
- Use a white noise maker in your room. Not only will it help them sleep, it will help drown out some of the whining.
Keep in mind that young puppies will have to go outside at least once during the night. So if they start whining in the middle of the night be sure to take them outside so you don’t wake up to a mess. Make these middle of the night trips quiet and businesslike. Carry them outside, give them a few minutes and praise quietly when they go. If you get too excited they might think the middle of the night is fun time. When they are done carry them back to the crate, praise them and give them a cookie.
Help – My Whippet Hates the Crate!
Most puppies will be less than pleased with the crate at first. Occasionally you will come across a whippet that has an actual case of crate phobia or claustrophobia. This is different than a dog who just whines, barks and fusses in the crate. Dogs with crate phobia will make themselves physically ill. They will pant, shake, drool, vomit, urinate and defecate. They will chip and break their teeth in frantic attempts to escape. If you dog is showing any of these signs please get help immediately from a professional dog trainer or canine behaviorist. If your pup just doesn’t like being in the crate here are some things you can try.
- If your dog is in a wire or plastic crate and doesn’t like it, try the other type. Some dogs prefer one or the other.
- If you’re using a wire crate try covering it, leaving one side uncovered. Use an old blanket in case your pup pulls it in through the bars.
- Try various items to keep your dog entertained, like a filled Kong, nylabone, raw knuckle bone, etc. Just be sure that whatever you leave with them is safe and not a choking hazard.