Most pet owners misunderstand the purpose of a dog crate. It is a common misconception that using a dog crate is cruel. It is also common to feel guilty and believe your dog will hate the kennel. I’ve been there and now know this is not so.
As a responsible pet owner, providing proper care is very important. This includes providing your doggie with a safe and comfortable place to live. Most veterinarians and behavior specialists recommend crates as the best way to train and raise a puppy. Dogs are denning animals by instinct. If you’ve noticed, when left loose in the house, a dog will curl up under a table or in a tight corner on the couch, in a closet, etc… A crate will make them feel safe and secure – their own little sanctuary.
There are many advantages to crating for the pet owner as well. Puppies don’t go to the “bathroom” where they have to be. The crate confines the dog to a small area where it is forced to hold it, since they like to keep their sleeping area as clean as possible. If you, the pet owner, bring your puppy to the proper pooping and tinkling area promptly after being released from the crate, your job in house breaking can be quickly and easily accomplished! Work out a schedule and stick to it.
Another advantage to both the puppy and the owner is keeping the dog and your belongings safe. Crating prevents electric wires from being chewed, as well as coffee tables, garbage and your husband’s favorite slippers. Crates will also prevent possible roaming. Often, owners are not even aware that their dog is roaming until it has been hit by a car. All these circumstances can be very sad and/or frustrating and are much worse than the silly, projected unhappiness of a dog in a crate. Crating during the day can prevent your dog from being harmed as well as expensive emergency expenses.
As well as injuring themselves, dogs can also become anxious when left alone (especially in too large an area), possibly causing them to become destructive. One client of ours has a dog who has been eating the curtains in the house when her owners go to work. My friend Sue’s dogs have eaten her entire couch and her computer. Now the $50 - $100 for a crate can seem pretty inexpensive.
In order to get your dog used to the crate, give treats and toys and feed meals in the crate. This way, the crate is at first associated with good things. Don’t leave your dog in the crate for too long periods of time. Make sure they plenty of exercise, play time and trips outside. You will probably need to get up during the night to take the puppy outside. This can get frustrating, but don’t let them know this or they won’t want to bother you and will have accidents in the crate. Getting up is better than washing lots of bedding daily and cleaning your carpets. Also, one of Dr. Norris’ helpful training tips is to leash your dog in the house if you can only give him/her partial attention. This way, you can keep your eye on the dog, but you don’t need to give full attention and the puppy does not need to be in the crate.
One thing that I have learned is that it’s never too late to crate an older dog. My dog Cheyenne is 5 years old and has had free reign of the house and slept in my bed her entire life – until Lucy came along. I decided to crate train Lucy and did not want one dog crated and the other on the bed, so we bought 2 crates. Cheyenne was always so spoiled (still is) and since pet owners tend to project their own feelings and fears on to their animals, I was positive that Cheyenne would scream and cry and carry on and be thoroughly depressed and it would never work. Surprisingly, Cheyenne took to her crate immediately. She even puts herself to bed at night! She uses her crate as a quiet place to get away from Lucy, as well as to hide when it’s time to go to the vet.
As far as choosing a crate goes, a wire crate is best for it allows proper ventilation and visibility. They sometimes can be folded for easy mobility. Choose a crate where the dog will be able to stand, sit, turn around and lay down comfortably. You don’t want a puppy’s crate to be too large because it can defeat the purpose. They can soil on one end and sleep on the other. For obvious comfort reasons, it should not be too small. You may need to upgrade as the puppy grows, or you can always confine an area within a larger kennel.
The rules of crate training are simple. What I want people to believe is that it is not mean. If I can know this, anyone can know this. If you find it does not work for you and your dog, you don’t need to stick with it forever, but I highly recommend this means of training. However, I would guess that your dog will not be miserable and might even love it.