Adopting a new furry companion is an exhilarating experience for the entire family. During that exciting shopping spree just days before adoption, you’ve probably considered the purchase of a crate. A king has his castle, a child yearns for his own room, and an infant is placed in a crib or playpen for safekeeping. While the use of crates is a hotly debated topic among the dog community, the real issue at hand is not an ethical one. Crates are tools that can be invaluable while potty-training or teaching your dog the rules of the house, it’s a great way to transport your four-legged friend, and it can serve as a safe place for your pup to escape to once he comes to accept it as his space.
Sadly, although humans would do anything to keep their new best friends happy, we’re making colossal mistakes that can drastically confuse the animal and think it’s getting punished for no reason. After reading this blog you’ll be able to deploy the crate with confidence and ensure that your dog learns the correct perspective on crate training.
Training crates for dogs are too often deemed cruel. In fact, they are both training and safety devices and as such can benefit dog and owner alike. Crating on a humane schedule teaches puppies bladder and bowel control and limits teething to his/her own property. A dog crated in a car has a better chance of surviving an auto accident and little chance of causing one. Furthermore, in the unfortunate event when your doggy needs to stay the night at the veterinary office due to a procedure, they aren’t as stressed out by being in an enclosure as a dog who has never been in a crate.
A crate is not a magical solution to common canine behavior. If not used correctly, a dog can feel trapped and frustrated. Many dog owners find themselves doing “bad” research and accidentally turning that potential safe space into a confined prison. Studies have shown that long-term confinement is detrimental to the physical and psychological well-being of animals. Animals caged for extended periods can develop many different disorders such as aggression, depression, separation anxiety and eating disorders. It’s imperative that one fully understands the pros and cons of using crates to maximize the relationship with their pet.
Today, crates are more than just a box with some bars around it. The market is filled with beautifully crafted pieces of art that will complement any home interior, but it’s important to note that not all crates are created equal. A basic wire dog crate or a crate that looks like furniture is more appropriate if your crate will not be used for travel, and will have a permanent spot in hour home. The basic wire crate is usually collapsible and can easily be transported if you need to take your crate to a pet sitter’s home. Lastly, for smaller dogs, the soft crates are fantastic for air travel and trips to the veterinarian office. It’s entirely up to you and your decor style that determines on what crate to get, but you must follow proper sizing protocol.
Our furry friends must feel secure and comfortable inside their little private spot. It is important to pick a crate that is the correct size for the pet and is appropriate for its purpose. Often larger crates come with some sort of divider so that a crate can grow with the pet. The correct size for a crate is just enough room for the animal to stand up without hitting their head, lay down and stretch out their paws and to turn around unimpeded. There are many crates that offer customers the convenience of adjusting its size by moving a wall as the puppy grows. If you have a puppy and there is too much room in the crate, he may soil on one side and sleep on the other.
The primary reason why utilizing the crate is such a hotly debated topic at dog parks is mainly due to inefficient training. This sensitive exercise must be done in a timely matter to ensure no cruelty and signs of punishment cross the animals mind. Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog’s age, temperament and past experiences. It’s important to keep two things in mind while crate training: The crate should always be associated with something pleasant and training should take place in a series of small steps. Keep in mind that you’re NOT doing the dog a disservice by using the crate if done correctly. Later I will tell my personal story of how I ruined the crate life for my dog without realizing, but first….
When I adopted my first puppy, the crate was something I thought was essential in an apartment building. Potty training was incredibly frustrating and downright annoying at times. We never used pee pads and like with all puppies, accidents happened. We would put Sasha in the crate to keep her from going to sniff the mess and let us clean. We would say ‘Bad Dog!” when she did the accident and put her in the cage. Without realizing it, we were teaching our dog that the crate is a bad place. The cable guy came in the house to fix something two years later and we were forced to crate our dog at the landlord’s request. Keep in mind that Sasha is extremely well trained and understands her boundaries. When we put her in the crate, she just looked up at us like “What Did I Do?”. The goal is the do this correctly! You want to build trust with your dog so only use the crate until your pet is good in the house. Remember, dogs want to treat us like kings. It’s up to you to show leadership and never use force. One lucky good charm has blessed me from this story. When Sasha is feeling sick or has diarrhea, she will run to the cage letting us know she has to potty really bad. If she runs in the cage, something is wrong.
Crates can become incredible tools when used correctly. For our dogs, it’s their version of our children’s tree house. While many will argue that crates are cruel instruments that only restrict freedom, for some they are life savers and cost effective tools for transportation and initial training. To properly crate train, one must understand how dogs view the world. Humans tend to make rookie mistakes that breed unintentional behavior problems that we confuse with personality. Crates are NOT necessary if one raises their pet correctly. If you choose to utilize the crate in your day to day activities, it’s imperative that you properly train your dog before learning them in there. The goal is to develop a trust relationship and never use the crate ever again unless required to.
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