Most dog owners, expert authorities and veterinarians recommend dog cages (also known as crates) as the best way to raise a puppy.
The dog crate is a sanctuary for your Shar-Pei. It is your pet's well protected home. "Not so much that your pet can not get out, but that humans cannot get in." according to a recent release from a major dog food manufacturer. The pet crate is comfortable to your Shar-Pei puppy because, like his wild ancestors he instinctively seeks the safety and security of a den'." The fact that we may see the crate as a very limited space, or very confining, is only a human view. The dog finds a crate a secure haven, more secure than the confusing and sometimes frightening outside world.
The most important benefit that accrues to the pet owner who utilizes crate training is the control of the puppy when it is alone at home. When puppies are left alone and allowed to roam to large areas, they become anxious, lonely and bored. By using a pet crate, the owner creates the positive behavioral patterns which enable the relationship between the pet and his owner to develop and grow.
Make sure your attitude toward using a dog crate is a positive one! Remember, that you are doing your Shar-Pei puppy a real favor. "Crate training" will reduce fear, insecurity, and stress related problems for your puppy.
Use an adequately sized collapsible crate with an epoxy-coated floor pan large enough for an adult size dog to stretch out comfortably. A smaller space for the puppy can be created by sliding cardboard or a piece of masonite between the wires of the crate. When the puppy grows, the partition can be removed.
Keep the crate in a semi-private spot in a "people" area (such as the kitchen or family room). This spot should be away from drafts and direct heat.
Well before bedtime, place the pup in the crate and offer a treat. Close and lock the gate.
We actually use the command "Go to jail" to tell our dogs when we want them in the crate. They respond well and go to their crate, obviously not knowing the real meaning of those words.
Immediately establish a routine, using the crate for nap times and whenever the puppy must be left alone (3-4 hours). Take it directly from the crate to your chosen outside elimination spot, praise his performance, and go directly inside. The puppy will then be able to make the association. Your relationship with your pet will be enhanced if you keep it's life structured.
Treat any resistant to crate confinement in a "no nonsense" manner. Remember, you are not being cruel. At the first sign of any separation responses (such as barking or howling), intervene with a sharply raised voice. The idea is that the pup associates its behavior with the startling raised voice. Some pups will not respond to a raised voice, but most will respond to the sounds of a shaker can (a coffee can with a few coins), or a newspaper slapped sharply against the door.
Usually the pup settles quietly in the crate after three or eight attempts at emotional responses. After the puppy is quite, keep it inside for about 10 minutes. Do not praise the pup immediately after releasing it. This can reinforce the desirability of leaving the crate.
After an interval of 30-45 minutes, repeat the procedure. Extend the pups quiet time to about 30 minutes. Then gradually extend your absent periods, and in a short time, you can be gone for several hours.
Provide soft washable bedding (such as a towel or bath mat) and one safe chew toy in the crate. Other than treats, do not put food or water inside the crate. Remove the collar and tags to prevent possible entanglement.
What dogs? These are my children, little people with fur who make my heart open a little wider.
Paper and canvas prints of "Growing Up Chinese Shar-Pei" by Barbara Keith are available online.