Dog Crate Training Guide
Why do Dogs Love Crates?
Dogs are, by nature, den animals and feel secure in small, enclosed spaces. Most dogs seek out a place in your home that will act similar to a den. You will often find them sleeping under a table or desk. Dog crates can make excellent dens and can serve as a safe haven, a hangout, and a bedroom for your canine buddy. It is very important that the dog crate is never used as punishment – the crate must always be regarded as a safe and special retreat for your animal. The most common misconception about a dog crate is that it is a cruel form of caging a pet. This is 100% false, and in fact, a dog will actually find a crate to be a secure and safe sanctuary in the same manner as a wolf enjoys the comfort of a den for resting and eating.
Why Dog Owners Love Crates?
Next to a collar and leash combo, the dog crate is a proven training tool recommended by professional dog trainers, groomers, and vets. Once accustomed to the dog crate, poor behavior such as house soiling, destructive chewing, digging, unnecessary barking/howling can be avoided. Crate training is also ideal to help ease separation anxiety. Since the dog’s habits are much easier to regulate by using the dog crate, discipline for misbehavior will be less necessary. This will allow a stronger dog/owner relationship. Crate-trained dogs travel easier since they feel more secure. This sense of security is also helpful if a dog needs to stay at a friend house, the vet, or groomer since the dog is already accustomed to being crated.Compared to the cost of replacing furniture, plants, carpet, and other personal items that may be destroyed when a dog is allowed to roam a household unsupervised, the expense of a crate is very economical.
How Can a Crate be Used to Avoid Accidents?
Crate training is proven to be the fastest, most cost effective method of instilling “good dog” behavior. A dog’s natural instinct is to keep the area in which she rests as clean as possible. Most dogs are very resistant to being near their own waste and therefore will make a strong effort to control their own elimination when confined to a crate. By the owner encouraging elimination in the proper place immediately after a dog is released from the crate, the pet quickly learns when and where to “take care of business.” This is a proven method of house training recommended by trainers.
How Can a Crate be Used to Solve Other Behavioral Problems?
Most behavior problems such as destructive chewing are due to the boredom of an unsupervised dog. If allowed to continue the behavior, it quickly becomes a habit that is difficult to change. Dogs naturally will want to please their owners and receive praise and love in return. If the dog knows exactly what is expected, they will gladly behave accordingly to benefit from it and know that will lead to being rewarded. By using a crate during the owner’s short term absences, the dog is simply not able to misbehave. Instead she will rest quietly in her crate. Dogs generally sleep 90% of the time the owners are away. It’s the other 10% that so many things can go wrong. By crating the dog, you are only asking for a small amount of change to the dog’s natural schedule.
How Can a Crate be Used to Ease Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety is the number one behavioral problem with new puppies. It is caused by an increased fearfulness of the dog after the departure of the owner. This is often misunderstood causing loving pet owners to feel they have no other option than to find their dog another home. Dogs are naturally pack animals and are not prepared to cope with being isolated. They must be taught how to be alone and be assured that they will not be alone for long. Through crate training, the dog’s personal den can provide an increased sense of security, which often helps ease stress and stress-related behaviors.
When Can You Start Using a Crate?
Immediately! The sooner the better, and the younger the better. Ideally, it is best to introduce a puppy to a crate at an early age. In fact, many breeders will already have a puppy familiar with a crate before the puppy is introduced to a new home. This makes the transition much easier for both the dog and new owner. But a dog at any age can be introduced to crate training. Older dogs may view the crate as punishment in the beginning and may need extra encouragement and slower graduated confinement times. Start your training when you are able to be home with your dog.
Why a Wire Crate?
A wire crate is recommended to allow your dog better visibility of surroundings. Your dog will be most relaxed if it is sheltered but still able to view surroundings. She will rest longer and quieter. Wire crates are designed for proper ventilation. Illness with puppies can be caused with poor ventilation. Complete ventilation will prevent this and many other ailments that can be caused from low ventilation. Wire crates are easy to move and store, and can be cleaned with soap and water. With proper care, a wire crate will last the life of the dog, therefore are more economical than plastic travel kennels.
What Size of Crate Does Your Dog Need?
When selecting a crate for a puppy, get one that will fit the dog’s need when fully-grown. Most wire crates we sell will have dividers and allow you to adjust the size of the crate while the puppy is growing. The dog should be able to comfortably walk in, turn around and lay down in the crate. Your pet should not feel cramped, but do not use a crate that is too big, that will defeat the purpose of giving the dog the sense of having his own enclosed “den.” An over-sized crate will also defeat the dog’s natural instinct to keep her home clean and free of waste since she may use one end to rest and one end to “go.”
Where Should the Crate be Located?
The crate should be placed in an area that is easy to supervise. Since dogs are highly social animals the crate should be in an area of the household where the family spends most of their time. The crate should not be put in an isolated area away from tons of stimulation. At night, the bedroom is an ideal place for a crate so that the dog can feel the security of being near her owner. Dog owners that are familiar with crate training and its benefits often have two or more crates set up in the house. Wherever the crate is placed, it is important that it not be in a draft or direct heat. Some dogs feel more secure when a towel or blanket is draped over the top and sides of the crate.
It is especially important to keep the crate in the bedroom at night while puppies are being house-trained. For successful house-training, you must be able to hear your puppy when it needs to be let outside. Each individual dog varies but as a rule a puppy can control potty breaks through the night as early as three months of age. It is also important to regulate a puppy’s feeding schedule and taken into consideration as to when and how often they must be allowed to relieve themselves. The last meal of the day should come at least two hours before bedtime. It is important to establish a timely routine so that the dog’s body functions can adjust to when she will be released from the crate. As a dog gets older the amount of time she can stay in the crate can be extended but should never exceed more than six to eight hours total.
Introducing Your Dog to Her Crate.
It is always a good idea to remove both collar and tags prior to your dog entering their crate.
Allow your dog to explore the crate on her own. You can encourage your dog by tossing some favorite toys or treats inside. It also may help to show interest in the crate to encourage curiosity from your pet. Make sure to leave the door open to the crate during the introduction period. NEVER force your dog into the crate and ALWAYS praise them anytime she enters on her own even if encouraged by a treat.
If you stick to it soon your dog will enter and exit the crate willingly. At that time you should close the door for a few seconds and remain close to the crate praising your pet while they are inside. Then, let your dog out in a calm and quiet manor. You do not want the exit of the crate to be excitable. This will make your dog want out of her crate rather than enjoying the time inside. If she barks or cries while inside, reassure them and wait to settle down before allowing them out of the crate. You do not want your dog to associate negative behavior with being released from the crate.
Gradually you can extend the amount of time the dog is left in a crate. Your first few times left in the crate should be less than 30 minutes. Keep your departures and arrivals very low-key. Continue to crate your dog for a few minutes each day when you are home, so that crating does not become predictable letting them know that you are leaving. After a few attempts over two or three days most dogs will enter the crate willingly and quietly settle down for a nap. It is natural for your pet to bark or cry when getting used to her new den.
Some owners choose to offer food to their dog in the crate, although we recommend that the bowl be removed as soon as they finish eating. Sometimes this will help gain the dogs trust with a crate. Remember that puppies will need to eliminate immediately after a meal and adult dogs will need to eliminate within 30 minutes. Once the puppy or dog no longer has a habit of chewing, a crate pad or bedding can be put in the bottom of the crate for additional comfort.
It is very important that the use of a crate not be abused. Every dog needs plenty of exercise and allowed to socialize daily with their family.