To Crate or Not to Crate: That is the Question
Many veterinarians and behaviour experts recommend crating puppies and adult dogs to protect them when they are unsupervised and to protect homes from the damage unsupervised dogs can cause. While some owners worry that crating is cruel and restrictive, the truth is that with proper training, most dogs view their crates as surrogate dens rather than as cages.
Crating your dog protects your possessions and provides your dog with a protected space. Because dogs evolved from den animals, they generally feel safe in confined spaces like crates. In fact, the ultimate goal of crate training is to make your dog’s crate a place the animal goes voluntarily when it feels frightened or needs to be alone.
In addition to providing a safe space for your dog, your dog’s crate can aid in housebreaking. Dogs do not soil their dens or surrogate dens, so crating your dog when you are not available prevents them from soiling the house and developing bad habits.
When done incorrectly, crate training can be dangerous. Common crate training mistakes include the following:
• Using a crate for punishment.
• Crating a dog for an extremely long period of time without giving the animal proper attention or exercise.
• Confining young puppies for more than four or five hours at a time. Young puppies need to be able to go to the washroom several times during the day.
• Using a crate that is too small or too large.
• Continuing to crate dogs that injure themselves while crated.
• Crating a dog instead of using training techniques to correct problem behaviours.
Is Crating Right for Your Dog?
Crating your dog is not the solution to every behavioural challenge. If your dog has anxiety, a medical issue or another problem, your dog needs to be treated correctly rather than simply crated to minimize the effects of the problem. Additionally, if you regularly need to leave your dog alone for extended periods of time, you might need to engage a dog walker or enroll your dog in daycare in addition to or instead of crating.
While most dogs eventually adapt to being crated, a small percentage of dogs become extremely agitated when confined to crates despite the use of proven training techniques. When confinement is necessary, these dogs may do better in a safe room or a pen rather than in a crate.
The first step in crate training is choosing an appropriate crate. The crate should be just big enough for your dog to stand up comfortably and turn around. A crate that is too small is dangerous and will be uncomfortable. On the other hand, if you choose a crate that is too large, your dog is likely to urinate and defecate in the crate since there will be enough room to have separate sleeping and waste areas.
Most experts and humane organizations recommend beginning crate training by using toys or treats to encourage your dog to enter their crate. During the introductory period, you should not close your dog in the crate.
Once the dog is comfortable going in and out of the crate and is not displaying extreme signs of anxiety you can shut the door.
When your dog can spend about 30 minutes in its crate without a problem, you can leave the dog crated alone in the house for periods of time. Make sure to remove your dog’s collar and any potentially dangerous toys before leaving them alone. Also, remember to praise and reward the dog before you leave the house and when you return home.
We carry a lot of products to help your dog learn the house rules and would be happy to help with any further questions you may have. Come see us today and learn more.