I got my first dog over thirty years ago . We always had dogs when I was growing up, but this was the first purebred of my very own after I moved out of my parent’s house. She was a golden retriever from a well-respected breeder and proved to be an education for me.
I had always thought that crates were cruel. One of the things I learned with the new pup is that crates are not cruel when used properly, and in fact can be a great tool for the average pet owner. Proper, positive crate training can provide benefits for both you and your dog.
Here are my top 7 reasons why you should crate train your dog:
1. Provide a safe space
Dogs have a natural ‘denning’ instinct and crates can provide a haven for your dog when he is feeling stressed or tired and needs some downtime. Children especially, must be taught that when the dog is in his crate, whether by his own choice or by yours, that he is out of bounds for them and must be left alone.
2. Help with house training
Crates are great for house training. Dogs and puppies don’t like a soiled bed, so a properly sized crate is very useful to assist you in teaching him bladder and bowel control.
3. Household safety
Having your dog resting comfortably in his crate while you are not able to supervise him is a bonus. Maybe you are cooking dinner or working on renovations where your pup could cause safety issues just by being underfoot. Having him tucked safely away will give you peace of mind.
4. Safer travel
Car travel in a crate is far safer for both of you than having him loose in the car.
5. Easier vet visits
If your dog ever needs to stay overnight at the vet’s, he will be far less stressed when he is confined in the cage or run if he has already been crate trained.
6. Damage limitation
Have you seen those ‘dog shaming’ videos on the net, where the pet parent comes home to find his furniture in a shambles? Funny though they are, those disasters could have been avoided if the dog had been left in his crate with a bone or toy to chew on, instead of destroying the designer couch.
Finally, if you ever have to evacuate your home in case of a disaster or emergency, heaven forbid, having a crate trained dog is so much easier for all concerned. Whether you keep your dog with you, or he has to be handed over to carers, your pup will be better off in his own crate. He’ll be more relaxed with his own blankets and toys with your scent on them, than one who is unfamiliar with a crate and therefore experiences undue stress.
Misuse of crates
Crates can also be misused and have a negative influence on your dog. Here are some uses to avoid:
- It is very important to remember not to use a crate as punishment for your dog. His crate should be his haven. I have often found my dogs resting in their crates of their own accord with the door wide open.
- While crates can be used for teaching your dog the house rules, it is NOT okay to use the crate as a crutch because of lack of training. Your dog wants to be with YOU, not spending his life in a crate, so be diligent about your training regime early on.
- Never leave your dog in his crate for too long, especially puppies who have limited bladder control. If you must crate your dog while you are at work, it is important that he gets a potty break after about four hours (less for puppies). So you can look into having a friend, neighbour or pet sitter come in and let him out to relieve himself and stretch his legs, or look into a good doggy daycare. If you are leaving him crated at home, it is absolutely essential that you make sure he gets plenty of exercise and playtime when you are around.
Common sense should be your guide when it comes to crate training. Good, positive associations will help your pup love his crate for the rest of his life.
Here is a link to learn the ‘how to’s’ of positive crate training: https://clickertraining.com/to-crate-or-not-to-crate
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