I am often asked whether it is a good idea to purchase a soft dog crate for a new puppy for house training when the puppy is first brought home. This is a really good question. When I hear this I am delighted that on the whole, the concept of crate training puppies is finally being passed on to puppy purchasers. Crating puppies to house train them is a very useful practice that has for many years been an integral part of raising dogs in the States, and seems that it is slowly but surely becoming more popular here in Australia. Not for one minute am I saying that we Australians should be emulating what the American's do, but this is certainly one area that many believe is not only hugely beneficial to the positive development of a young pup's formitive weeks, but also a wonderful training tool.
My answer to these people is always, "Yes." If you have decided you are going to crate train your puppy, then it is highly advised to have purchased the crate, set it up and completely familiarised yourself with the entire workings of it all before your puppy is due to arrive at it's new home.
Then there is always the question of whether to purchase a 'steel' crate or a 'soft' crate.
I own both steel and soft crates. Most of my steel crates have become obsolete as I am tired of the weight of them and the noise they make. Steel crates are definitely stronger than soft crates. There is no question about this. But if you are considering purchasing and using a soft crate, then the best time to do this is when the dog is a puppy and he is small and certainly not as strong as he will be in a few weeks. Even large breeds of dogs are very unlikely to break out of a soft crate when they are 8 - 10 weeks of age. And provided you take the time to "set yourself up for a win", and take every precaution to eliminate the chances of the puppy becoming stressed or bored, then you will have him crate trained within days of being home. And yes, you will be able to have a full night's sleep again. Generally all it takes is 1 or 2 nights. Puppies very quickly learn to love their new crate as it is a safe haven for them. Provided the crate is just big enough to house a nice cosy bed for pup, there is almost no chance that he will foul his bed, as he certainly does not want to lay in his mess. Of course in the initial stages you will need to take him outside to relieve himself every few hrs. He needs to learn to trust that you will do this for him.
Puppys and dogs will not normally break out of a soft crate after they have spent a few safe and clean nights tucked away in one. They learn to respect their boundaries, just as they learn to break out of them if you do not take the time to "set yourself up for a win." The beauty of the soft crate is that it is so portable and easy to store. They come in great colors and you can even have your puppy's name embroidered onto it.
There is heaps of terrific info on crate training puppies on the net. This is an example of one of the sites I like to recommend. perfectpaws.com/crt.html