To Crate or Not to Crate
I know a lot of you may cringe at the mention of crating your dog, but let’s have a look at the benefits of crate training. First of all, a crate is another training tool we have at our disposal – it is NOT meant to be considered a cage or a source of punishment for your pet.
Crate training for puppies is your first step in house training – puppies will not, or at least try their very hardest, not to soil the place where they are sleeping. You must of course do your part as well in getting your pet out at regular intervals for potty breaks. You are then in control of where your pup does its business.
Dogs are naturally den animals and a crate is just that to your pet – a place where he/she can curl up for a nap or play with a favourite toy and feel safe and secure. It’s also a safe place for your pet when company is coming and going during holiday seasons. A place where your pet won’t be able to get to dropped food or be able to chew on your furniture or soil your floors when you’re not able to supervise. It may also be a good idea to crate your pup when there are small children around so no one gets hurt or overly excited.
To start you must make the crate a comfortable place that your pet will enjoy, so place a small bed or an old towel inside. You may try putting small amounts of your pups kibble inside to encourage him to go into the crate on his own – DO NOT try to force your pup inside as this may cause a traumatic experience and make it more difficult to have him go into the crate the next time.
The first time inside a crate your pup should not be locked up and left alone – leave the door open and reassure your pup with a few pets and soft words of encouragement. Once your pup has been inside the crate for several minutes call him out to you and praise him. You should practice this several times each day over the next few days, and once your pup seems to be comfortable going in and out of the crate, close the door slowly and walk away. Leave him for a short period of time then go back and open the door and call him out.
Once your pup has been conditioned to going in and out of the crate and feels comfortable, you should now try leaving him for longer periods of time. In the beginning your pup may cry and bark to get attention but the secret is to ignore the noise and go about your business. In time this will stop and eventually you will see your pup go into his crate on his own just for a safe quiet place to take a nap.
As with anything we have for our pets, safety is of the utmost importance, so be sure when your pup is using the crate he does not have a collar on which could possibly catch on the side of the crate and choke him. You should also use only good quality toys in the crate, such as a Kong, which will not break up into little pieces. And be sure the crate is not close to any electrical wires which your dog could pull into the crate and chew.
You will find that by crate training your pet, you will be able to travel with him safely and be able to take him to other homes without worrying about him getting into something he shouldn’t. So if you find your furniture is being chewed or your little friend has just taken your favourite leather boots for a little snack, why not try the crate. You’ll be glad you did.