Reluctant to use a crate for your new puppy?
Some new puppy owners are very reluctant to use a crate to confine their puppy. They view it as punishment and a very negative experience for the puppy. They would prefer to let the puppy have freedom to do as they wish. However, if they are started off right dogs generally love their crates. It gives them a space to retreat to, to rest, a place of their own. Very often pups who are given freedom of the house will use that space to eliminate and housetraining can be quite difficult. They may also lay on beds, couches or chairs and refuse to move, and even growl or snap if you try to move them. In short they take over – and that’s not good. Someone needs to be in charge, and that someone is you, not the dog. So, you make the rules and stick to them!
Why would we consider crating our puppies?
Puppies are babies. They will get into all kinds of trouble if left to their own devices! They will chew baseboard, drywall, carpet, furniture, wiring etc. Apart from the fact that your house may be damaged, you may end with a pup that has a tummy full of junk and likely a trip to the vet. Remember too, that because they’re babies they need to sleep. A schedule where they are crated for sleep, go out for bathroom breaks, feeding and playing soon gives your pup a nice balance and routine that they can follow. A schedule makes your house training easier and more predictable.
Where should I put the crate?
People run into trouble when they isolate the pup by putting the crate in the basement, garage, or laundry room. Your puppy is very social – during the day the crate should be in a common area such as the kitchen, family room or living room. At night it can be in a bedroom if you wish. You do want your pup to be near you and experience everyday sounds, smells and activity. Don’t crate pup only when you leave the house – if it is routine to be crated when you are home it won’t be a problem when you leave. Give your pup a safe chew toy such as a Kong to keep them occupied in their crate if you are going to be gone for a while. The crate will be puppy’s safe place when things are hectic around the house. When the kids come home from school pup can be crated. Let the kids get in the door, have their snack and get rid of some of that excess energy before puppy greets them. When things calm down a bit let him/her out to be a part of the activity. Are you super busy? Crate pup when you stop for a coffee break – you need time for yourself. Puppies are busy and will keep you hopping!
My dog is older, do I still need to crate?
There are many reasons to crate your dog, even if they are older.
- If your dog needs surgery or is sick they may need to be confined to a quiet place (crate) for a time to reduce their activity while they are healing.
- If you travel and bring your pet along, your motel, family or friends will appreciate you crating your pet when it is alone, ie; if you go out for dinner.
- Do you board your dog when you go on holiday? The activity of a boarding kennel with other dogs to play with and group walks will tire your dog – if they are accustomed to a crate they will be content to use it to rest.
- Do you wish to show or trial your dog? You will need a crate ringside or at your camping spot.
- For safety you should also crate or seat belt your dog when travelling in the car.
- If you have a service person at your home they are not obligated to enter and complete their service call if your dog is loose – they have the right to ask you to confine your dog. Most of them are just fine and love pets as much as you do, but if they’ve had a bad experience they certainly don’t want to repeat it!
- And for the older dogs! If you have an oldie who is a little wobbly on their feet you certainly don’t want to come home and find that they have fallen and hurt themselves. A nice rest in a comfy crate is just the ticket!
There are many reasons to crate train your dog, and you’ll love the flexibility of having the crate when you need it. It is a personal choice though, and many people choose not to use a crate. It does remind me though of a lady years ago, who got a large dog to protect her home when she was at work. Every day she came home to something totally destroyed and was quite distraught at the level of destruction achieved by her dog. When asked if she had considered crating the dog she replied that the dog was there to protect her possessions so that wouldn’t work – however, the reality was, that the dog was destroying her possessions! She opted for the crate.
Please remember, that though crates are a functional part of your and your dog’s routine, your responsibility to walk, exercise, play and train your dog are paramount and must not be replaced by confinement in a crate.