A Safe Prison of Sorts?
The physical looks and appearance of a metal cage might seem cruel and inhumane and it is fully understandable that it might be a turn off for some pet owners. One can most certainly be excused for thinking of it as a prison, but its use can be far from being a punishment if introduced correctly and can end up being a comfort and safe place for your dog.
A crate or metal cage is an extremely useful tool for training and helping a dog to adapt to new situations and introduce strange environments. It can also be successfully used for correcting unwanted behaviours.
If introduced and used correctly, your dog will not only love the crate, it will also be their safe place where they retreat to when they want some peace and quiet or where they run to when they feel insecure. Your dog could even be more happy and balanced than before. I have crate trained my dog since a puppy and many a day when she had a long and busy day you will find her asleep inside her crate all snuggled up and not a care in the world. This makes it so easy for me when she needs to go to the vet or if I need to confine her. So how and for what does this crate training business work you ask?
Why would you want to crate your dog? Here are 8 very good reasons why we think it is a good idea to crate train your dog.
Shortcut To Useful Tips
When your dog visits the vets, groomers, or boarding kennels they will be kept in separate cages for their safety. If they are not used to being crated, they might get stressed out and injure themselves.
Transporting in a crate is a very safe and secure way of getting your pet from A to B. Not only will you be able to drive safely without them jumping all over you and increasing your chances of an accident, but you might also avoid a fine as in many states and countries having a dog loose in the car is a punishable offense.
What if you have repairmen working at your house coming and going, leaving gates and doors open? How will you isolate your dog safely?
Great safety and security can be allowed for when you need to clean the house and have to restrict access to certain areas with wet floors or if you have a party with lots of guests or have guests who are allergic or afraid of dogs and you need to restrict contact.
Illness is not something we wish for or plan to happen, but it happens. In the event of a leg injury, chances are your dog needs to be restricted from moving in order to give the location a chance to heal. Most of the time cage confinement is recommended. If your dog is already used to a crate or cage, this will not stress them out or make them go crazy wanting to get out and risking even more injury.
Crate training is a very helpful and positive aid to help you toilet train your dog. The principle that a dog does not dirty where he/she eat and sleep is being used and when your dog is confined in his crate he will hold it in until it is time to go toilet.
Correcting destructive behavior
Some dogs become destructive when left unattended. It is a great convenience to us and a lesson to our dog to be crated if we have to be absent from home for a few hours.
Instill a routine
Dogs that have a daily routine feel more secure and thus tend to behave better than dogs that are left to rule the house. Certain hours of restriction puts a stable routine in their lives
For these useful things to work however, you should never use the crate as a prison or measure of punishment or a cage where they are locked up for hours and hours on end. Be sure to read our guide on how to introduce a crate and get your dog to absolutely love his crate!
10 Steps To Positive Crate Training
we have discussed in depth about the pros to having your dog crate trained. So now that you are convinced that it is a good idea, went and bought one and now you are looking at it and wonder what on earth to do next? Fear not! Follow our 10 easy steps below and you and your dog will master crate training in no time. Always remember easy does it, take it one day at a time.
Rules to follow:
- Make sure the crate is big enough. You do not want a crate where your dog is squashed up and uncomfortable. Your dog must be able to stand upright, turn around comfortably and be able to lay down and stretch his or her legs. If you are unsure, ask your petshop assistant for advice.
- When introducing the crate at first, leave the door open so that your dog can freely go in and out at will to get use to the the space.
- Put comfortable bedding in that your dog will love to lay on.
- For the first few days, feed your dog inside of their crate. Leave the door open when you do that, do not attempt to close the door. What you are trying to achieve is to let your dog know the crate is a safe place they need not fear. If they are not used to confined spaces, closing the door of the crate will most certainly create a negative connection for them.
- If your dog is a little bit hesitant to go in and explore inside the crate, you can put some yummy treats in for them which will more than likely tickle their fancy. After all, if there are treats inside it can’t be so bad, right?
- Never ever use the crate as a punishment. This will give your dog a negative connection to the crate. What we want to create is a space where they feel safe and secure, not punished.
- By the end of week one, when your dog is occupied inside of the crate you can close the door for a few small minutes. Take note that this should be whilst the dog is occupied, be it having his or her meal or chewing on a yummy treat. Once you open the door and let your dog out, give them high praise and lots of cuddles so that they know it is a good thing.
- From the second week on you should have established a positive connection between your dog and his or her crate. You can now start to leave the door closed for longer periods. This should not exceed more than three hour periods however, as your dog will need to go out for toilet. Unless a situation arises as discussed in our article about why crate training is important, we do not recommend keeping a dog locked up in their crate during the day without good reason.
- When you decide that your dog is ready to spend their first night sleeping in the crate, make sure that you tire them out enough that they will be sleepy and ready to rest. Do not lock an overly excited and full of energy dog up in his crate. They should be able to fall asleep exhausted and satisfied.
- When your dog choses to visit his crate by himself, this will be a sign that crate training is complete. Your dog will use this space as a retreat and you should encourage the rest of the family to respect that as his personal space.
- If your dog cries or complains, do not pay any attention and open them up. This way they will learn that kicking up a fuss gets them freedom, which means their behavior is rewarded and they will keep doing it. If they have had food and water and been to the toilet you can ignore them for a bit and only intervene if they risk injuring themselves by biting or scratching at the cage.
- You can leave a toy in the crate to start off. You will find later on when crate training is complete that they are not bothered with toys and you may remove it then to use outside during play time.
- Your dog will not require a constant supply of food and water to be left into the crate. With meals you should anyway not have food down all the time and as your dog will only be in the crate for short periods and sleeping overnight, water should not be required.
- Exceptions can be made in extremely hot weather. You can take your dog out more often or leave a little bowl of water supply.
- Regardless of age, it is perfectly fine to expect your dog to sleep through the night in their crate. During the day, confined hours should not exceed 3 hours for pups and 4 hours for adults. You should always allow for two good long walks as well as free play time in the garden or around the house to make up for any confined time during the day