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Do your dog a favor - crate train!

Updated on July 30, 2014
My dog Teddy (French Bulldog) in his crate for a nap. He loves his crate and opts to go in it to relax - even when the door is open.
My dog Teddy (French Bulldog) in his crate for a nap. He loves his crate and opts to go in it to relax - even when the door is open.

You're not alone

Most people crate-training a dog for the first time have pangs of guilt. They worry that they're being "mean" by caging the dog, or that their dog is "bored" being in the crate all day.

As a dog trainer and owner of a dog-supply shop, I have crate-training discussions almost every day. I had it today, with our UPS delivery person, the proud owner of a mixed-herding-breed puppy.

UPS man is feeling guilty because his six-month-old puppy, Piston, spends a lot of time in his crate. Piston is in the crate when UPS and his fiancee are at work. Piston sleeps in his crate. And Piston is in his crate whenever the couple has to get something done - like cooking, housework, lawn chores, etc.

They're actually doing it exactly right. When you're not able to actively watch your puppy, he should be in his crate.

And no, you shouldn't feel guilty about it.

Reasons to crate train

  • Your dog has his own "room" where he's safe and comfortable
  • Your house stays clean
  • Your dog can't get into the garbage, chew on electrical cords, get stuck behind the couch
  • Your dog will be housebroken faster
  • Your dog will learn how to relax, without responsibility
  • You don't have to worry what he's up to when you're not home

Reasons not to crate train

  • Your guilt
  • Your dog has some background trauma with crates that he can't overcome

What's your experience with crate-training?

Have you ever crate-trained a dog?

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Your dog will be at home, anywhere!

When your dog is crate-trained, he has a place to be comfortable, no matter where he is or what's happening to him.

We use our dogs crates all the time - in a variety of situations and for many reasons.

One of the most important is traveling - whether it's just in the neighborhood, going a bit of a distance to an obedience class, or agility trial, even cross-country on vacation. Our dogs have crates in our cars. They know to climb in, settle down, and relax for the duration of the trip. Our dogs are wonderful travelers because they're secure and comfortable in the vehicle. The only down-side? When we arrive at our destination, the dogs are well-rested and ready to play, while I'm tired and could use a nap!

Another note about travel: More hotels and motels are welcoming dogs, but most require the dogs be crated when you're not in the room. If your dog accepts crating calmly and quietly, your entire family, human and canine, will be welcome guests wherever you go.

Another situation where your dog's comfort in a crate is crucial - the vet's office. If, for whatever reason, your dog needs to be hospitalized, his stay will be easier for everyone if he's not distressed by being confined. Crate-trained dogs don't have any additional anxiety over being alone and crated.

Crate training made easy

Your dog will learn to love his crate

One of the keys to the whole crate-training process is getting your dog to happily accept his crate and dive in when you say "Kennel up!"

It's easy, if you treat the crate like an integral part of your dog's life.

Feed your dog in his crate. Especially if he loves his meals. He'll learn to associate his crate with another favorite part of his day - mealtime! To this day, with all of our dogs grown-up and housebroken, we still feed them in their crates. We don't have to monitor who's trying to eat whose food, and since we feed the dogs when we eat our own meals, we have a peaceful dinner without any begging from sad, puppy-dog eyes.

Throw your dog's toy/ball in the crate when you're playing. Just leave the door open and toss the toy inside once in a while when you're playing "fetch." Your dog will learn that the crate is just part of the furniture, not a trap.

Move the crate where you are. If you need to work in your home office, bring the crate into the office. If you're cooking dinner, move the crate into the kitchen. If you're working on your car, move the crate into the garage. If you're watching television, move the crate into the family room. And when you go to bed, you should absolutely move the crate into your bedroom. Wherever you are, that's where your dog should be. And even if your attention is on other things, your dog will feel included in your life.

Booker (Boston Terrier) waiting patiently for his agility lesson.
Booker (Boston Terrier) waiting patiently for his agility lesson.

What kind of crate?

Once you've decided that crate-training is the way to go (good for you!), the next step is to actually get a crate.

The crate should be big enough for your dog to stand up, sit down, turn around, and lie down. That's it. One of the principles of house-training a dog is that most dogs will not defecate/urinate where they sleep. If the crate is large enough for your dog to get away from his mess, the purpose has been defeated.

Your dog shouldn't be crated so long that he needs water, food, or anything else. We do give the dogs comfy beds or mats to lie on, and a treat-filled toy to occupy them for a few minutes.

Adult dogs can sleep up to 20 hours a day, puppies even more. Your dog won't be bored in his crate, he'll be sleeping most of the time.

We make frozen treats for our dogs' crate toys. Yogurt, peanut butter, baby-food-sweet potato, and a bit of kibble is one of our dogs' favorite recipes. Freezing the treats and stuffing them into a toy keeps the dogs occupied when we leave the house.
We make frozen treats for our dogs' crate toys. Yogurt, peanut butter, baby-food-sweet potato, and a bit of kibble is one of our dogs' favorite recipes. Freezing the treats and stuffing them into a toy keeps the dogs occupied when we leave the house. | Source

© 2014 HopeS


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