Contrary to what many people may think, there is nothing cruel about crate training a dog. When done correctly, a properly crate-trained dog is happier and safer than one who is not. Dogs that are unsupervised can get into a lot of trouble and experience both physical and psychological troubles while apart from their owners. By crate training your dog, you can eliminate any possibilities of disaster and ensure his safety and security.
Why Crate Train Your Dog?
Crate training serves many purposes. If you train your dog from day one and keep him in an appropriately sized crate, your dog will never suffer and often times will happily enter the crate. Some of the most popular reasons for crate training include:
- Potty training is easy and effective while crate training.
- Keep him out of trouble while you are sleeping or at work.
- Instill feelings of security for dogs that experience anxiety.
- Make transitions easier for him while traveling.
Choosing the Crate
When shopping for a pet crate, you will be presented with many options. There are wire cages, nylon crates, plastic carriers, and some that are made from canvas. These all have their own place in the dog world. The best (and most common) choice for a home crate is the wire crate. This allows for 360 degree visibility and total comfort and air circulation. Wire crates come in sizes to accommodate any size dog and some even have panels to adjust the size. A lot of wire crates are collapsible for easy storage and transport and even come with slide out trays for easy accessibility and cleaning.
Plastic and nylon crates are good for dogs to get used to because they are most common for traveling in the car and on airlines; however, they are not for everyday use because they are somewhat stifling and do not allow the dog to see all around him.
Canvas crates are for dogs who are already comfortable in crates and who do not chew. Puppies or agitated dogs can easily chew or claw their way through the soft sides of these flimsy crates.
When choosing your crate, make sure to get the proper size. If the crate is too small, your dog will be scared and uncomfortable which will make using the crate a near impossibility. If it’s too large, he may go to the bathroom in it. The key is to let your dog sit, stand, and turn around in it with no trouble. If he cannot do that or if he can roam from one side to the other, you need to get a crate that fits him better.
Introducing Your Dog to the Crate
Never, ever use the crate as a punishment! Crate training is a positive experience that is used to instill positive behaviors in good dogs. You never want your dog to link being bad and going into the crate as this will defeat the whole purpose of crating your dog.
Make the crate comfortable with a blanket that has your scent on it or with his dog bed. Keep it stocked with some chew toys and some treats. Leave the door open so he can feel free to go into and out of the crate while he is getting acquainted with it. Praise him profusely when he goes inside and reward him! These are all excellent things to do when introducing your dog to his new crate.
First Time in the Crate
Once you feel that he is ready for a test run, get him situated with his toys and treats and close the door. Leave the house for just a few minutes and then return and let him out. Continue to do this for a few days in a row, a couple of times per day. Each time you do this; extend the time you are gone by a few minutes. Before you know it, your dog will be able to stay in the crate without any complaints! One thing to remember is that you should never let him out while he is whining or barking. By letting him out while he exhibits any bad behaviors you are reinforcing that behavior. He will associate barking or crying with being released. Only let him out when he is calm. Also, never leave your dog for more time that you’d expect him to be able to “hold it”. If your dog needs to go to the bathroom every 2 hours, he needs to be let out every 2 hours. If he usually holds it all night, that is fine too. A crate is not a miracle cure and forcing a dog to eliminate inside his crate is a punishment for him. Dogs do not like to go to the bathroom where they sleep and this will make him depressed and distressed and is a terrible way to initiate crate training.