A crate is your absolute best management tool. I cannot imagine bringing up a well-behaved puppy without a crate.
Besides being crated at night--which is so helpful and important- here is the schedule I use. It may seem like too much for some people, but I'm here to tell you that this schedule will help you have a well-trained puppy, and eventually well-trained dog. Crate-training is a way to be pro-active in training.
Many people feel guilty about crating their puppy or dog when they are at home as they feel that their puppy should be loose with them. Especially those pet parents that work and have to leave their puppy in the crate during the day.
I also meet many people who believe that once the dog is housetrained, you no longer need a crate. This could be a mistake because there are so many behaviors that their puppy has not outgrown yet. Keep the crate around for awhile. A good goal would be at least until the puppy is 9 or 10 months old, even longer if you have one of the more oral breeds, like the Goldens and the Labradors.
Please don't feel guilty. Here are all of the times your young puppy could be crated:
While you are preparing and eating your food (this keeps your pup from jumping on the counters and getting under your feet and also begging!)
Sometimes when you are playing with your children (your children deserve time with you and the puppy will often demand attention by stealing things or just barking at you)
When you are doing housework or something that you cannot give your full attention to your puppy (this is when you might find an accident or a chewed up piece of furniture later!)
...basically anytime you cannot give your full attention
Many people tend to use their crates only when they need to and by then the puppy has already made mistakes. Housetraining accidents or chewing on the furniture are the first two that come to my mind. If you prevent housetraining accidents ALL THE TIME, your puppy will understand it so much faster. If you prevent chewing on the furniture or other inappropriate behavior ALL THE TIME, your puppy will never learn to chew. The reason why this is: Puppies WILL outgrow these two behaviors if you avoiding letting them do it. If your puppy never gets a chance to chew on anything he shouldn't, by the time he is 9 or 10 months old, he won't even think about doing it.
Another great thing about a crate trained dog is just they are comfortable in a crate whenever they have to be in one. For example: where do you think your puppy will be when he is at the vet for spay/neutering or for some kind of emergency? Imagine how much better he or she will heal when they are comfortable in the crate. If you should go away, think how much easier it will be on your puppy or dog if he can go to someone's house to stay because he is so well crate trained. Or if you have to use a boarding kennel when you travel, think how much more content your puppy will be if he has already grown to accept confinement.
Another reason to use the crate is if you have an older dog that is trying hard to adjust to the new puppy, but is noticeably agitated by it. I try to explain to my clients that the "older" dog deserves time to himself and time alone with you, especially at first. Too many people shower their new puppy with attention. What they don't realize is that the older dog is now being put on the back burner and, trust me, he or she will feel that. Be sure to give your first dog lots of additional love and attention and spend some quality time with just him.
Many people expect the same good behavior from the puppy that the older dog has. Your older dog is already housetrained, should already know the rules of the home and has outgrown the chewing stage. Because of that, he deserves more freedom. The young puppy is not yet educated to all the house rules and he is just too immature to expect that good behavior from him. Set the new puppy up for success instead of failure. Keep him from getting into trouble. This really works!