The Dog Crate as a Home Within a Home
The crate is a sturdy plastic, fiberglass, wood, metal or wire box just big enough for a dog to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. When mandatory confinement is called for, it can be used with the door open or closed.
Most dogs love their crates when they are introduced using positive training methods. A crate is a modern den which is a dog’s personal portable bedroom that he can retire to when he wants to escape from the trials and perils of toddlers and other torments. He can take it with him when he travels with you and stays in hotels and motels.
crates make house training a breeze and prevent damage to the house, furnishings, and personal possessions. When Baby Buddy has to be left home alone, they can give a new puppy-owner peace of mind. When visitors tire of Buddy’s antics, or when he insists on begging at the dinner table, they can be used.
The crate can be used to convince owners of backyard dogs to bring their hounds into their homes. By bringing the dog indoors but keeping him confined at night, hesitant owners can ease their fears about mayhem and ruined rugs while at least partially integrating the deprived dog into the family.
The Crate is NOT a Punishment
A crate isn’t a place of punishment. Don’t force your dog or puppy into a crate. If he has earned a time-out through inappropriate behavior, don’t yell at him, throw him in the crate, and slam the door. Remove the dog from the scene and invite him into his crate to give both of you an opportunity to calm down.
A crate is not appropriate for long-term confinement. While some puppies are able to stay in a crate for eight hours at night, you should be available to take your pup out if he tells you he needs to go.
An adult dog should not be kept in a crate for more than six to eight hours during the day. Longer than that. Since it breaks down his instincts against soiling his den, you risk forcing Buddy to eliminate in his crate, which is a very bad thing. A common behavior problem for puppies from puppy mills is dogs who learn to soil their dens, which can be extremely difficult to house train.
Maintaining Dog Crate Reliability
Sometimes dogs and puppies can do a crate training program in one day. Some will take a few days, and a few weeks or more. Your dog crate can be used for behavior management for the rest of your life. You should respect it. If you abuse it by keeping Buddy confined too much, for too long a period of time, or by using it as punishment, he may dislike it. Even though he goes to bed willingly and on cue, reward him often enough to keep the response happy and quick. It’s a good idea to keep your verbal “Go To Bed” cue light. Don’t allow anyone to tease or punish him in his crate. Kids can be very obnoxious about this. Don’t forget to watch them!
All of my dogs are good at going to bed. When I emerge from brushing my teeth, they are already curled up in their crates for the night.
Pat Miller is a dog trainer in Tennessee.