I got my first dog over thirty years ago. We always had dogs when I was growing up, but this was the first purebred of my very own after moving out of my parent's house. She was a golden retriever from a well-respected breeder and proved to be an education for me.
I always had the idea that crate training your dog was cruel. One of the things I learned with my new pup is that crates aren't cruel when appropriately used, and in fact, they can be an excellent tool for the average dog owner. Proper, positive crate training can provide many benefits for both you and your dog.
Here are my top 7 reasons why you should crate train your dog:
1. Provides a Safe Space
Dogs have a natural 'denning' instinct. Because of this, crates can provide a haven for your dog when they're feeling stressed or tired and need some downtime. If you have children, make sure they're aware when your dog is in their crate, whether by their own choice or yours, that it's out of bounds for them, and your dog must be left alone.
2.Helps With House Training
Crates are an excellent tool for house training. Dogs and puppies don't like to do their business in their den. Therefore, an appropriately sized crate is handy to assist you in teaching your dog bladder and bowel control. When it's time for them to go to the washroom, after a nap, or first this in the morning, bring them towards the designated area in your backyard or pee pad. Use positive reinforcement to reward them.
3. Household Safety
Having your dog resting comfortably in their crate while you're not able to supervise him is a bonus. Maybe you are cooking dinner or working on renovations where your pup could cause safety issues just by being underfoot. Having them tucked safely away will give you peace of mind.
4. Safer Travel
Car travel in a crate is far safer for both of you than having him loose in the car. The last thing you want is to look back in the rear-view mirror and see your pup flopping all over the place! Having your dog in their crate will allow them to feel more comfortable and secure on longer trips.
5. Easier Vet Visits
If your dog ever needs to stay overnight at the vet's, they will be far less stressed in the run or kennel at the clinic.
6. Limit Damage in the House
Have you seen those 'dog shaming' videos on the internet? The ones where the pet parents come home to find their furniture in shambles? As funny as they are, incidents like these can be easily avoided. Leave your dog with a crate safe toy to chew on so they don't tear up the designer couch.
7. Quicker Evacuation
Finally, if you ever have to evacuate your home in case of an emergency, having a crate-trained dog is much easier. Whether you keep your dog with you, or they have to be handed over to carers, your pup will be better off in their crate. Your dog will be more relaxed with their blankets and toys with your scent on them. Otherwise, if left in an unfamiliar crate, this can cause undue stress.
Avoid these Misuses of Dog Crates
Crates can also be misused and have a negative influence on your dog. Here are some uses to avoid:
It's important to remember not to use a crate as punishment for your dog. Your dog's crate should be their haven. I have often found my dogs resting in their crates on their own time with the door wide open.
While you can use crates for teaching your dog the house rules, it's not okay to use the crate as a crutch because of lack of training. Your dog wants to be spending time with you, not spending the majority of their day in a crate. Be diligent about your training regime early on.
Never leave your dog in their crate for too long, especially puppies who have limited bladder control. If you must crate your dog while you're at work, they must get a potty break after about four hours (less for puppies). Look into having a friend, neighbour or pet sitter come in and bring out your dog to relieve themselves and stretch their legs.
Another option is to look into good doggy daycare. If you are leaving your dog at home, you must make sure they receive plenty of exercise and playtime when you're around.
In conclusion, when done correctly, crate training is just one great tool to help you properly train your dog. With consistency, patience and positive reinforcement, your dog will love its crate in no time!