2022 How to make the best use of a dog crate
When you adopt a new dog, everyone you talk to will give you all kinds of training advice. There is a lot of conflicting information to deal with. When it comes to kennel training a dog, you will also hear a variety of opinions, and it’s hard to know what to do.
I find that humble dog cages often don't get the respect they deserve. Some owners, especially if they've never used one, worry that keeping their puppy in a cage could be cruel or scary to them. Others may take the crate for granted ("Dogs love dens, right?"), because they just simply put the dog in it without any special preparation.
Here are some suggestions about how to correctly use a dog crate. My goal is always to get to the point where the dog can safely be left out of the kennel when they are at home alone. For some dogs, that will take a few months. For others, it might take a bit longer.
Kennels can help nervous dogs feel safe. It's a safe hiding place and it takes some of the stress out of the dog. It can also help prevent separation anxiety. For puppies that are not yet fully house-trained, crates can be very helpful in preventing accidents at home when you cannot supervise the puppy. If they are confined to a small area, most puppies will instinctively avoid peeing or pooping in the mess where they have to stand or lie down.
Every dog needs boundaries, just like a child. The crate is a safe, secure and comfortable place for your puppy or dog to learn this. For puppies that are into everything this is a tool that prevents them from running around and getting into trouble.
The kennel reinforces calm behavior. You can help your dogs by providing enough exercise beforehand, and then keep some chew toys in the kennel. Having a dog who loves his crate is very convenient for car trips and hotel stays. When you're on the go, the crate is your pup's portable "safe space"—a comfortable, familiar bed that smells like home no matter where you are.
Chances are, at some point in your dog's life, he'll need more medical attention than just a quick stop at the veterinarian's office. For many injuries, crate rest for several days (or even weeks!) is a mandatory part of the treatment plan. If your puppy can already be comfortably in a cage when needed, these situations will be much less stressful for all parties.
About how to start the crate-training: First, make sure the crate is comfortable and attractive. Put a soft bed or blanket inside for your puppy to sleep in, and leave the door open to let him investigate at his own pace. Throw in some treats to encourage him to go in.
Now, this is important – do NOT shut the door. Confining your dog right away is a great way to make him anxious and paranoid about getting into the cage, so don't do it! Let him in for a snack, and come right back if he wants. Repeat several times.
Try to do a few quick sessions like this on the first day. In between, keep the crate outside the door so your puppy can come in and out at any time. Put as many treats as possible without him seeing you - that way he knows it's great to investigate the crate himself, as there may be treats in it!
Also keep in mind that a kennel should be used within reason. Dogs are man's faithful companions. We should take good care of them.