Why create a pet? Many people who are new to pet ownership think it’s inhumane to keep an animal in a cage, but a lot of dogs absolutely do not see it this way. It makes them feel secure, as though they have their own domain.
According to the Humane Society, dogs are den animals, and having this “safe space” that is all their own can drastically improve anxiety and be key to housebreaking. This may keep the dog from chewing your shoes, tipping over the garbage, and other negative behaviors. So how can it be done successfully? Here are three tips to follow when crate training.
- Choose the right crate. If you’re starting from puppyhood, which is the ideal way, understand that your dog will likely need to step up in size as they mature. Or, if you have a breed whose weight and size you can predict with some accuracy, you can go for the larger crate in order to avoid replacing it every three months.
Quality really matters. Check the options out here to learn more. A cheap wire crate can become dangerous if the dog is able to pull it apart. A higher quality wire, hard plastic, or even wooden crate should suffice. Be sure there is always enough room for the dog to stand up, turn around, and lay down. The door should be large enough for them to walk in and out without trouble. And be sure that the crate is kept clean, and includes bedding.
- Crates are not a punishment. The size and quality of a crate are very important. But what you teach your dog about the crate is essential also. Do not send your dog into the crate as punishment for misbehavior. If your dog begins to think they’re being sent to a sort of jail because they’ve ticked you off, they will be frightened of the crate.
Instead, let the crate sit out as though it is a natural and normal part of the scenery. Make it inviting to the dog, with toys, treats, and a blanket. When they see that they alone can occupy this cozy spot, they’ll likely seek it out on their own.
- Be mindful of the time a dog spends in the crate. With the understanding that a crate is not “dog jail”, you shouldn’t leave your dog locked in for long periods of time. In fact, they should be able to spend time in the crate with the door open, when you’re home. Puppies should not be locked in a crate for more than three hours; it’s bad for their health to hold off going to the bathroom for that long, and messing in the crate is detrimental to training.
Adult dogs can remain in longer, but you still must be mindful of keeping them in more than five or six hours. If any dog is housebroken and reasonably obedient, they should not be locked into a crate; it should be their voluntary sanctuary.
Ultimately, crating is a great way to housebreak your dog, keep them out of trouble, and give them the solo space they need. If you avoid isolating them too much, making crating a punishment, or locking them in too long, your dog may come to view their crate as their very own little house.