What type of crate do you use and what materials does your doberman lie on?
We have a huge wire crate (giant breed size) and two molded plastic crates (large and xlarge). The wire crate has a dog pillow in it, the other crates have fleece blankets. We also keep a large dog pillow in the laundry room.
How did you train your doberman to use the crate, how long did it take?
I wasn't a big believer in crating until about 2 years ago. I hadn't ever used crates and the only time the girls were in them was at the vet. I went to pick them up after being gone for a weekend and Maggie was all shook up, she was completely stressed, had had accidents in the crate, wasn't eatting, you name it. I decided that we needed to introduce crating as a positive experience so the girls wouldn't panic at the vet's. We got the XL plastic crate first and put a pillow in it and treats and let the girls explore on their own. They were both potty trained by this time so we didn't need to door shut.
What uses does the crate serve for you and how does your doberman see the crate? (bedroom, punishment, etc)
Everybody loves the crates now. They use them like bedrooms. We only close the adults in their crates when one (or more) is in heat and i'm not here to watch them. Greta runs into the wire crate when I walk past the kitchen door because she wants treats or thinks I'm going out. We don't use the crate as punishment and never scold them whren they go in, but if they're getting on each other's nerves I will separate them for awhile using crates.
When did you stop using the crate?
We still use them everyday. 2 are in the kitchen and 2 are in my bedroom. They come and go as they please.
What techniques did you use to Housebreak/potty train you doberman?(puppy pads, etc)
I tried pads and newspapers, but they ate them. It was just easier to go out with them and praise them for going outside.
How long did it take it become 100% reliable, no more mistakes?
Maggie was easy, I drove 10 hours to get her from the breeder and on the way home I stopped anytime she told me she needed to go. I praised each potty and by the time we were home she knew "potty". It took her a 4 days to master the dog door and she's never had an accident inside. Rita was okay, the drive time to bring her home was shorter, so we didn't have as much practice time :-). She had the dog door down within an hour of coming home (had to keep up with the others). Greta was 3 years old when we got her and was potty trained. Hank is almost 8 months and hates going out in the rain so he holds it and holds it until he can't wait anymore, then he pees on the porch right outside the dog door.
How does your Doberman alert you that they need to go out?
They have a dog door and can go out anytime they need to. When we go to shows Hank will go to the door and scratch or hit the knob to tell me he needs out. He also finds the room again and "knocks" to go back in.
Do they go on different surfaces and in new locations easily? (if traveling and no grass is available)
The girls only want to go on grass, dirt, or gravel -- no hard surfaces. Hank has no such hang ups. He'll pee anywhere if you tell him to go potty. None of them want to poo if anyone is watching, though.
When a litter is born we move the mom and pups into the wire crate after a day or two in the whelping box. The moms feel safer there I think. We start crating puppies in pairs and on their own when they're about 7 weeks old. They still have group time and such, but it helps them get comfortable with the idea of being away from their littermates.
"The miracle isn't that I finished... The miracle is that I had the courage to start."