Crate Training For Dogs
It’s not often that I change my mind completely about something but on the subject of crate training your dog I have done a complete U-turn!
What Changed My Mind?
I was in a dilemma when I had a nine-week-old puppy and an older dog who didn’t take to him. I knew the older dog wouldn’t hurt the puppy unless extremely provoked but the puppy had no boundaries and wasn’t reading warning signs.
The puppy was also at the stage where he wanted to chew everything. I would take great care to clear the floors of potential hazards (like pens, batteries, scissors) but he would always come running with that hair clip I lost months ago down the back of the sofa or my shopping list complete with a layer of puppy saliva.
House training was a complete nightmare! I can’t count the times I have stood on the lawn at 4am, shivering and waiting for a puppy to wee, when he thinks its playtime.
I also had to go to work in the afternoon and was having heart palpitations at the thought of coming home to a puppy wrapped up in electric cables, savaged by his older brother and drowning in a sea of urine!
My friend suggested a crate and I looked at her in horror!
So the friend suggested I went round to her house to see how crate training can be an absolute lifesaver. I still had my reservations, however, I went to take a look.
The crate had been placed in the warmest part of the kitchen and inside was a snuggly blanket, a dog teddy, and a chew toy.
Well, I could see that it looked comfortable but there was just one thing missing.. a dog!
We chatted over a cuppa then her Sheltie wondered in from the garden. He greeted me enthusiastically, then went and laid down inside the crate. I was amazed to see that he had gone there by choice and snuggled down for a nice rest.
My friend explained that it was the dogs ‘safe place’ where he could rest and relax. If the children were too noisy, the cat refused to leave him alone or he just wanted a quiet snooze he could go to his crate. The door remained open and the dog came and went as he pleased.
So, instead of being locked away like a prisoner, the dog was trained to love the sanctuary of his crate.
I started coming round to the fact that crate training was the only way forward. It didn’t take long for me to become a complete convert and now all my foster dogs are given the option of a crate.
Here are the six Golden rules of crate training for dogs, if you stick to the following, crate training is incredibly easy.
The SIX Golden Rules of Crate Training For Dogs
1 Buy the correct size of crate.
Buy a crate that is tall enough for him to stand up in and turn around comfortably but also bear in mind that puppies grow and you might need a larger one later on.
2 Make the crate a ‘safe place’
Make the crate into a ‘den’ for your dog with a nice blanket, some favourite toys and a couple of treats to entice him in.
3 Keep the doors open!
Leave the door open and reward the puppy whenever he goes inside voluntarily.
4 Pick a Good Spot
Place the crate in a spot where he can see people coming and going and won’t feel alone.
5 Don’t Use The Crate as a Punishment
Never use the crate as a punishment when your puppy is naughty, always make sure that the puppy associates his crate with things that he loves.
6 Start Small
Start with leaving the puppy in the crate for just a few minutes at a time, build up gradually, but never leave the dog for more than 3-4 hours.
FIVE Reasons To Crate Train
1 The dog will be safe whenever you can’t be around.
2 The crate can be used to aid house training if it is done correctly.
3 If the dog is ill or recuperating from an operation the crate will offer a haven where he feels safe and will get undisturbed quiet time.
4 All crates fold up easily and can be taken on holiday or placed in the car to keep the dog safe.
5 The dog will settle better in strange surroundings because the crate will feel familiar to the dog.
REMEMBER Crate Training Is Not For Every Dog!
Accept that not every dog will be happy in a crate and it should only be encouraged, never forced.
Don’t use a collar and lead on a dog when he is crated.
Make sure the crate has no rough edges and is properly assembled.
Crate Training A Puppy Cry At Night
I find that a puppy settles better at bedtime if the crate is covered in a blanket. This gives more of a cocoon effect and gives the puppy extra security. Also, put a recently worn T-shirt or jumper in the crate too, the puppy will find your scent comforting. Put the television or radio on with a low volume so that the puppy doesn’t feel alone. Try to resist going back to the puppy (I know this is hard!). Only return to the room if you feel the puppy is extremely distressed or ill.
An Alternative to Crate Training.
As I said before crate training is not for every dog, but there is an alternative.
A Playpen or Stair Gate is a great way to keep the puppy in a safe area or room.
They are really useful if visitors arrive who are not comfortable around dogs or who have babies or small children.
Two dogs can be separated if one isn’t vaccinated, neutered or if one of the dogs likes to take his time accepting another dog.
The playpen can be taken outside so the dog can experience grass and fresh air and the gate can be moved to different places in the house.
They fold down and easily fit into the car, so the dog can still travel with you.
I find the playpen invaluable when we take our dogs camping. I always know that they are safe and secure.
This playpen comes with a free carry case and a collapsible bowl. It can be used indoors or outside, I really like that the panels provide some shade from the sun and the bowl is always on hand so the dog can have a drink.
Here is a link to another article which shows how you can make a huge difference to your dog’s health just by making a few small adjustments.