Why Crate Training?
A dog is a very social pack animal by nature. Your family becomes his/her pack with the primary caregiver as the leader. Your dog is going to claim a territory and create a den of its own. Crate training offers your dog the security and comfort of the den, while giving you peace of mind. Some people seem to think that crate training is cruel and unfair but, in fact, the opposite is true. Leaving a pet unattended and unsupervised to entertain himself invites disaster. Surely, this well-meaning, unsuspecting creature is going to harm himself or cause a mess or become a nuisance. A dog is limited to a few devices for amusing himselfâ€¦
The most important benefits of crate training are the safety it provides for your dog and the damage it prevents. Crate training also is a very effective way of house-training your dog. More on that in a moment.
Types of Crates
Wire cages are easy to clean, offer great visibility and ventilation and most have divider panels that allow them to grow with your puppy. Many fold down for travel or storage.
Plastic crates are lighter and tend to be warmer (due to less ventilation). They are ideal for small pets that are cold-natured or households with lots of activity. The privacy and warmth afforded by the plastic crate can also be achieved by draping a blanket or cage cover over the wire crate.
Soft-sided crates are also very portable and light, can be stowed away easily and usually offer good visibility and ventilation. Most manufacturers do not recommend soft-sided crates as a first crate for training.
Size Does Matter
Too small a crate will make your dog uncomfortable and can lead to health issues. Too large a crate, (particularly when house-training), can defeat the purpose. With a wire cage, you can use the divider panel that comes standard with many now, to give your pet just enough room to be comfortable and cozy without having the room to eliminate in one corner and sleep in another. A dog doesnâ€™t want to â€œpottyâ€ where he eats any more than you do.
Remember, as with everything in training a new pup, (or even teaching an old dog new tricks), take it slow. Introduce your dog to his crate in small steps. Put the crate where the family will be spending a lot of time so he doesnâ€™t feel left out or neglected. Use a soft blanket, pad or towel in the crate. Bring the dog over to it talking in a happy friendly tone. NEVER FORCE YOUR DOG INSIDE! If he thinks it is a punishment or associates it with anything negative, he will not use it as his den. Instead, use treats or toys. Leave them around and just inside. Put the treats or toys further inside each time. This may take hours or days. Do not rush.
BE AWARE: There is a distinct difference between crate training and confining a pet all day long while you are away. With crate training, a routine is set and consistency is key. Taking the dog out just after feeding and just before bedtime and several times a day helps to avoid accidents in the home. Crate training can be one of the most efficient, effective ways of training a puppy or dog. It should not be used as a punishment nor should it be used for extended periods. If your dog is left too long and soils its space, it could set the whole process back weeks or months.
Remember that mistakes and accidents happen. We are not perfect and neither are our pets. If your dog has an accident, DO NOT PUNISH him, just clean it up. Use a product specifically for pet stains and odors. Just because we canâ€™t see it or smell doesnâ€™t mean Fido canâ€™t. He will be attracted back to the same spot.
Watch your dog for signs that he has to go. Sniffing the floor and circling are some common signs.
- Never use crate as punishment
- Donâ€™t confine a dog just because he is annoying or excited
- Donâ€™t confine for too long
- 8-16 weeks old â€“ no longer than an hour except at night
- 4-6 month old â€“ 2-3 hours max except at night
- Adults â€“ as long as 8 hours if properly excercised beforehand (30-60 minutes) (if crated at night as well, 60-90 minutes of exercise in morning before going back in)
The main thing is to make the entire experience positive. Once the house-training is completed, and if the dog enjoys his â€œdenâ€ and feels safe and secure in it, then when you are home, the crate can be left open for him to come and go as he pleases.
Next week â€“ the Overweight Pet
As always, information given here is meant to be helpful and/or educational. It is, in no way, intended to supersede, challenge or supplant the diagnosis, treatment or advice of a licensed veterinarian.
If you like JeffersPetBlog.com, please comment and tell us and tell all your friends. If you have questions, comments or corrections about a subject we cover, use the comments section below. If you would like to see a particular subject covered, leave a comment.
To comment or reply, just click where it says â€œNo Commentsâ€ below. (If comments have been made it will read with the number of comments instead of â€œNo Commentsâ€, ex. â€œ3 Commentsâ€.)