So, you’ve got yourself a brand-new tail-wagging, hand-licking, nose-snuffling addition to the furmily.
And he/she is seeing and smelling everything for the first time, exploring new places, making new friends, and trying to make sense of it all.
As you can imagine, it’s all a bit pup-lexing. And that’s where a crate can come in handy.
In the wild, dogs naturally like to have a den to escape from dangers, stresses or anxieties. And a crate serves the same purpose in your house, providing a safe refuge to sleep and hide.
Adult dogs can also be crate-trained, but the ideal time to start is when they are a puppy.
- Getting your pup in a crate early can help a lot with their toilet training.
- It stops them engaging in undesirable behaviours like chewing the sofa or digging up the carpet.
And it’s a great way to shield them from any potential hazards, like those delicious power cables they love to chew.
- In addition, crate training is perfect for dogs that have had surgery and need to have their movements limited during recovery.
But crate training is not just great for puppies. It is also good with senior dogs, who are dealing with health issues. A crate provides them with a quiet place to rest their joints or take frequent naps. It prevents them wandering restlessly at nighttime and makes transporting them to vet appointments easier.
Best of all, crates provide older dogs with a safe haven. Sometimes the games of young dogs or children can be exhausting to an old dog and they need to have a sanctuary where they can have some alone time. Don’t we all?
You can buy crates at most pet stores. Just make sure they are of good quality and strongly built.
Make sure it is large enough for your dog to stand up, lie down, stretch and turn around.
INTRODUCE YOUR DOG TO THE CRATE:
Dogs like to feel a part of anything that’s going on. So put your crate in a social hub like a living room.
Create pawsitive associations. Give them a treat when they go in. Shut the door for a bit to get them used to it. Throw a ball in and praise them when they fetch it.
Keep them in there for just ten minutes at a time to start with and work your way up to longer intervals.
Houndy tip: Put one of your smelly old socks or tee-shirts in there. Yeah, it smells gross to us, but to them it’s a little piece of you and they feel comfortable.
A LA CRATE:
At first glance, a crate can look scary and intimidating to a dog. So feeding them their daily meals in the crate makes it much more pleasant. They associate the crate with tasty food and feelings of satisfaction and before you know it, the crate has become their happy place.
By associating the crate with food, you can ensure that your dog will be happy being in it.
Start by placing the food bowl near, but still outside, the crate. Then gradually, over time, take the bowl in and get him used to eating in it.
Finally, when he’s comfortable, shut the door and get him used to being in a confined space. Start with short amounts of time and work up.
CRATING YOUR DOG AT NIGHT:
Before you do this, make sure he is completely comfortable being in the crate with the door closed, and that he has some of his favourite toys or treat-dispensing chew toys.
If doing this with a puppy, you might have to let him out for a wee during the night as they can’t hold their bladders very long.
To your dog, the crate is its den and so he will not want to wee or poo in it. As a result, he will try and “hold it” in the crate.
And you can use this instinct to help you train him to go to the toilet outside.
Immediately after he has spent some time in the crate, he should be taken outside and encouraged to do his business. This way he will learn to associate the outside with going to the toilet.
Promote good habits by giving him multiple opportunities to go to the toilet after waking up, eating, playing etc.
Don’t let your puppy spend too long in the crate as it can affect muscle development and condition. Ideally, young puppies should not be crated for longer than 2-3 hours otherwise they will have to “go.”
Don’t leave your puppy in a crate with a collar or lead on. These can get caught on the bars and be a choking hazard.
WHEN SHOULD I NOT CRATE MY DOG?
If your dog has separation anxiety or claustrophobia. Crating can make these symptoms worse. Please consult with a vet if your do displays these symptoms.
If you are at work. Your dog will be unable to exercise or urinate/defecate. Consequently, he will feel trapped and get fearful and anxious.
Houndy tip: Don’t use the crate as a “naughty corner.” You want the dog to have positive associations with it, not see it as a place of punishment.
ALL CRATURES GREAT AND SMALL:
It doesn’t matter how big your dog is. All pooches from Maltese to Mastiffs, Whippets to Wolfhounds, love to feel enclosed and secure. It’s a throwback to a time before they were domesticated.
So don’t feel like you are being mean and cruel by putting your dog in a crate. In actual fact you are being the complete opposite.
So, look into getting yourself a crate, well not for yourself, obviously, but for your dog. Trust us, they’ll be truly crateful.
Crate training is not right for all dogs and should never take the place of appropriate exercise and enrichment. Dogs should not be left alone for prolonged periods (in or out of a crate).