Used correctly, a crate can be a safe sanctuary for your dog at home and during travel as well as a wonderful help during the housebreaking and chewing stages of a puppy’s development. Used incorrectly, a crate can become like a prison cell for your dog.
The first consideration is the size of the crate. For a puppy that is not housebroken, you want a crate that is “just right”. The pup should be able to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. If the crate is too large, a puppy can easily eliminate in one corner and sleep clean and dry in another corner. Most puppies prefer clean living quarters. With somewhat limited space, the pup will fuss to be let out when he needs to go.
Whether you choose a solid plastic dog kennel or a wire dog crate is up to you. Both types can be purchased with a divider to keep the area small until your pup grows. If you purchase a small crate for your puppy, plan on upgrading to a larger crate at some point. Dog clubs, shelters, and some veterinary clinics may have crates you can rent to get you through the growth stages.
A solid kennel limits the stimulation available for your pup and may help him to settle down. A wire crate has better ventilation and may help your pup to feel more like part of the family as he can see and hear the family easily even while in his crate.
Some families will use an exercise pen in place of the crate. If so, make sure you do not encourage the pup to stand up with his paws on the panels. Puppies quickly learn to knock these over! Exercise pen sizes can be adjusted fairly easily so follow the same size guidelines.
Your puppy should not be confined most of the time. He should be with you and under your direct supervision as much as possible. Assume he will need to eliminate when he wakes up from a nap, after a vigorous play period, first thing in the morning, and within 20 minutes after a meal. If you observe him closely you will learn the signs that he needs to go out.