Crate Training

 

Crates for pets are a relatively new invention.  In the 1960’s, the only dog crates found were in the local pet shop to house the dogs for sale.  They were not available to pet owners for training or for travel.  

Suddenly crating your dog became popular with many pet owners and breeders.  Today it’s assumed you use a crate, and the question becomes what kind.  The choices are endless:  open wire, enclosed plastic, mesh screening for travel and even camouflage or designer crates.

Crates are sometimes referred to as kennels.  A crate has a self-supporting structure with all six of its sides in place to result in the rated strength of the container. A kennel is described as a dog house or a place to hold an animal.  A kennel implies more comfort for the pet than a mere crate.

The good thing about giving a pup crate time is that it is safe and has the freedom to be left alone.  Our pups love our company, but they also need some solitude. In the crate they can rest, chew on a favourite toy and have some time away from the demands of the family.  A rested pup is a usually a much happier, calmer pup.

Try to make the crate a fun place to be in with a blanket and toys.  Give your pup a treat when they go into on the command “In you go”.  Encourage adult dogs to sleep in them with the door open.  Our dogs have special crates for trips in the car and when they see them they know they are going for a ride somewhere special.  The crate should be associated with comfort and safety for the pet and not used as a punishment or time-out for bad behaviour. 

Problems with crating arise when a pet is left in a crate for hours on end.  Pups left for long periods by themselves without enough play room, their potty box, food, water or toys develop mental issues as well as compulsive behaviours.  Most pups feel trapped when they want to get out but can’t.  Pups that are left and crated for long periods can start having bladder and intestinal issues.

Here is a reasonable guideline – if you have to go for longer than 1 hour, you should put your dog into an X-pen or safety zone area instead of a crate.  When you aren’t spending time with your pup, they should play where they have their toys, beef chews, food, water, bed and paper-box. In this enclosed area they will not chew on things that you don’t want them to chew on, such as electrical cords, furniture, or your good shoes.  They will get into less trouble here be paper-trained sooner.

Leaving any pup or dog in a crate/kennel for longer then 3 hours is not healthy mentally or physically for the pup/dog, if it is on a regular bases. If you are traveling long distances, a pup/dog should be let out no longer then every 3 hours to move around and be able to go to the washroom.  The average pup/dog wants to go to the washroom as far away from the place that it sleeps or plays.  

I routinely put my pups into a safety zone area like the spare room when I cannot supervise them until they are about a year and a half old.  I use safety gates to close off the kitchen and put the older dogs there to play when I am out of the house.  Safety zones are a good idea for people owning senior dogs too as there are less mistakes to search for.  

Crate training and kennelling a dog should be used for travel and no dog should be left in a Crate/kennel all day long while the owners are out at work.  All pups and adult dogs need space to play and exercise during the day and know that the crate/kennel is for going to visit friends and family.

If you leave a kennel/crate in a pup/dog’s safety zone area, take the door off, so that they can have the freedom to come and go as they wish.

All dogs should feel comfortable in a traveling kennel, as it is the safest place for them when traveling in a vehicle.