Many people object to using crates because they think it is cruel. However, we must respect our dog enough to look at it from their point of view. Dogs, by nature, LOVE small dark spaces that they can call their own. That is why many dogs happily sleep in their crate even after they are given the chance to sleep in the bed with their owner. Plus, crates give us the tools necessary to teach our dogs proper manners by helping us potty training them and preventing them from starting bad habits when left alone-like chewing on our favorite chair!
What type of crate should I use?
There are a variety of crates available for dogs. If you have a young puppy or your dog is still adjusting to the crate, a durable crate such as the plastic “airline” approved plastic crates work best. Once your dog adjusts to his new space, you can invest in one of the many designer crates that are available. That way, your dog can stay safe but you don’t have to stare at a large ugly crate.
How big should the crate be?
The crate should be large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around. If you have a young puppy, it is especially important to get a proper sized crate because, if the crate is too large, the puppy will still go to the bathroom in it.
How do I get my dog to enjoy the crate?
Place the crate in an area of the house that is convenient but is not separated from the rest of the family. You don’t want your dog to feel banished when he is in his crate. You may also put a nice dog blanket or bed in the crate to help your pup feel comfortable.
Teach your dog that great things happen when he is in the crate. Feed him in his crate. If he gets a new toy, put it in his crate. Hide treats in his crate for him to find later.
DO NOT let your dog out of the crate when he is crying. If you are putting your brand new puppy in the crate for the first time, he will cry and he will probably cry all night. If you let him out when he is crying, he will learn that if he cries long enough and loud enough, eventually someone will come get him. If you think he is crying because he needs to go to the bathroom, wait for him to stop, even if it is for a few seconds, before you let him out of the crate.
If you have an adult dog that is not used to the crate, slowly introduce it to him over a period of a few weeks. Leave him in the crate for a few minutes the first day and then work up to a few hours. This slow exposure will ensure that your adult dog has time to adjust to his new environment.
Never use the crate as punishment. If you teach your dog that the crate is only used when he is in trouble, then he will learn to hate it.