The crate, when used correctly, has many advantages for both you and your pet. With a pet that is crate trained, you can:
- Enjoy complete peace of mind when leaving your dog at home alone, knowing that nothing will be soiled or destroyed and that he is comfortable, protected, and not developing bad habits.
- Housebreak your dog more quickly by using the close confinement to encourage control, establish a regular routine for outdoor elimination, and to prevent accidents at night or when left alone.
- Effectively confine your dog at times when he may be underfoot (meals, family activities, guests, workmen, etc.), over-excited or bothered by too much confusion, too many children, or illness. Travel with your dog without risk of the driver being dangerously distracted or the dog getting loose and lost.
Your dog can:
- Enjoy the privacy and security of a “den” of his own, to which he can retreat when tired, stressed, or ill.
- Avoid much of the fear/confusion/punishment caused by your reaction to problem behavior.
- More easily learn to control his bowels and to associate elimination only with the outdoors or other designated location.
- Be spared the loneliness and frustration of having to be isolated (basement, garage, outside) from comfortable indoor surroundings when being restricted or left alone.
- Be conveniently included in family outings, visits, and trips, instead of being left behind at home. You want to enjoy your pet and be pleased with his behavior. Your dog wants little more from life than to please you. A dog crate can help to make your relationship what each of you wants and needs it to be.
The crate should always be large enough to permit the dog to stretch out flat on his side without being cramped and to sit up without hitting his head on top. It is always better to use a crate a little too large rather than one too small.
Since one of the main reasons for using a crate is to confine a dog without making him feel isolated or banished, it should be placed in, or as close to, a “people” area-kitchen, family room, etc. To provide even a greater sense of security and privacy, it should be put in a corner.
Crating a puppy
A young puppy (8-16 weeks) should normally have no problem accepting a crate as his/her own place. Any complaining at first is not caused by the crate, but by learning to accept the new controls on the environment. Actually, the crate will help puppy in adapting more easily and quickly to their new world. For bedding, use a towel or small blanket that can be easily washed. Also, you might include some freshly worn article of clothing such as a T-shirt. Avoid putting newspaper in or under the crate since its odor may encourage elimination.
Make it clear to all family members that the crate is not a playhouse. It is meant to be a “special” room for the puppy whose rights should be recognized and respected. You should however accustom the puppy from the start to letting you reach into the crate at any time, lest he become overprotective of it.
Establish a “crate routine” immediately, closing the puppy in it at regular intervals during the day (his own nap times can guide you) and whenever he must be left alone for up to 3-4 hours. Give him/her a chew toy for distraction and be sure to remove the collar and tags which could get caught in the crate.
The puppy should be shown no attention while in the crate. Any attention shown to the puppy will simply cause the puppy to believe that whining, crying, etc., is all that is needed to gain more attention.
The puppy should be taken outside last thing every night before being put into the crate. Immediately when the puppy is removed from the crate in the morning, he/she should be taken outside to the chosen area for eliminations. If your puppy wakes up through the night, you can very quietly and calmly take it outside to eliminate, then place it back in the crate for the rest of the night. Try to keep as many lights off as possible so the puppy doesn't think it's time to get up for the day.
Always feed the puppy early enough to allow ample time for eliminations after eating before placing in the crate. This can be up to one hour, depending on the dog. Simply clock the time after eating until the bowel movement occurs to determine the time interval for your puppy.