Crate training can be useful in a number of cases, but it does require a lot of energy and time before the word “success” can be spoken. It is especially recommended for new dogs or puppies, providing them with a safe space and, at the same time, offering the owner the possibility to limit the access to the house.
If you have concerns about crate training, keep in mind that each training method has its benefits and disadvantages. All it matters is that you are willing to put in the work and time in teaching your dog that the crate is a safe place, one that he should be happy to spend time in (when necessary).
How to select the right crate
First and foremost, you need to consider between the different types of crates – the two main categories include the plastic dog kennel and the metal pen, the latter also being collapsible (and thus easier to transport). You can visit a pet supply store to check out the different sizes and shapes. Just make sure that the dog has enough space to stand up, as well as to turn around.
What does the crate training process entail?
When you begin to crate train your dog, you have to acknowledge the fact that the entire process can last for weeks. That being said, throughout the training process, you have to take your dog’s age and temperament into account. Be patient and never force your dog to accept the crate, as this will not lead to a successful outcome in the end.
You begin by placing the crate in the family room, with a clean towel or soft crate inside. Introduce your dog to the crate using a positive tone, as well as small food treats or his favorite toys. Allow him time to explore the crate and refrain from being forceful.
For the next step, you can begin feeding your dog in the crate. This will lead to a positive association and, as the dog begins to feel comfortable, you can close the door during the meals. You can increase the amount of time he spends in the crate gradually, using specific commands for entering.
As the dog becomes more accustomed to spending time in the crate, you can leave him in there and go out of the house. However, you should refrain from letting the dog spend time in the crate for more than several hours a day. Upon letting him out, keep it low key, as excitement might trigger the wrong association. You can also use the crate during the night, especially for puppies but take the need to eliminate into account. Always make sure that the dog is comfortable and does not feel fearful, anxious or isolated.
What are the pros of crate training?
Using a crate can be convenient, in the sense that you can use it to limit the access to the house (for example, when you want to clean). It might also help when you are out of the house, especially if you have a dog that is prone to a destructive behavior.
From another perspective, it teaches the dog that he is not the one in charge and that you are the master. For puppies or new dogs, it represents the perfect choice for housebreaking. It allows for safe travels and it helps you deal with dogs when they are more excited than usual. Crate training can offer the dog with a safe space to retreat to when he is feeling under the weather, stressed or tired.
And what about the cons?
If the dog is left inside the crate for too long, he/she might resort to abnormal behaviors that can result in physical harm. Keep in mind that prolonged confinement can lead to stress sores, as well affect the physical health. Distress is a high risk, with confined dogs becoming more anxious or stressed. The dog might even experience breathing difficulties, if not placed in a well-ventilated area.
In conclusion, crate training can be useful, particularly when it comes to puppies or new dogs brought into the family. The most important thing is that you are patient, until the dog understands that the crate is a safe place. Ensure his comfort and never leave your dog in the crate for prolonged periods.