To Crate or Not to Crate?
I remember when Crate training was still fairly new in the dog behavior and training world. That is not to say it wasn't practiced, but it wasn't something that was put out there unless you went searching for it. When I was growing up I would never have even dreamed of creating my dogs. My family went off the old saying 'she'll be right' as our dogs roamed freely both in and out of the house as they saw fit. That's how it was though, in my house anyway, dogs were just, there and if they broke something, chewed something or ate something that was that. Even now, years later I was under the assumption that Crate training wasn't something that I wanted to do until actually got a one.
Yes, I was a little hesitant at first but now I wouldn't have a dog that wasn't Crate trained. I knew a bit about it from my Vet Nursing years and some of the benefits it could yield, but I never really appreciated how much of a benefit having my dog Crate trained would be. There are so many positives to having your pup Crate trained, they have their own space, it gives them a safe place to escape to if they are feeling overwhelmed, easier transportation and it helps them when they are learning and developing their behaviors.
For me and my dogs, they sleep in their crates so that I know they are safe at night and they cannot get into anything. I feed them in their crates as well, I know they feel safe in there and as I have a multi-dog household, it means that they can eat in peace without fear that their food will be gobbled up by one of their siblings. They are in their crate when I am not home for short periods of time and I also can Crate them when we are out together if they need a place to relax for a while. There are so many benefits of Crate training your dogs, and if you are interested, keep reading for some helpful information and tips!
What kinds of Crates are there?
There are a few different kinds out there, let's go through them.
While these are great for transportation and short stays, I probably wouldn't use it as my main crate. While Soft Crates are lighter, they are less durable and if you own a chewer, it's probably not the one for you. Costing anywhere from $80 - $250, they are pricey but good if need something lighter during outings.
Wire Frame Crates.
These are most common and most often used, they are durable, collapsible and transportable, though depending on the size of it can get a bit heavy so I would recommend getting a hand trolley if you have a larger breed of dog.
Hard Shell Plastic Crates.
I personally haven't used one of these but they are lighter to carry, I would only recommend these only for vet visits or airline transportation, less as their main Crate.
How do I start Crate training?
To begin with go purchase your Crate, I would recommend the wire framed Crates to start off with. Next, you want to make their Crate feel as comfortable and familiar as possible. Put their favorite toys, their bed and something that smells like you in there are well. Leave the door to it open at first and allow them to go in on their own, then praise them like no tomorrow when they do. Make it a positive experience, lots of praise, love, and reinforcement through yummy treats is the way to go here. Once they get a bit more comfortable you can close the door for short periods of time, but stay close or in the room so that they are reassured by your presence. Once you are happy that your puppy is content to stay in the crate, you can start leaving them for short periods of time. Eventually, you will have your pup blissfully snoozing and relaxing in their very own den. Remember that this will be a gradual process, so don't get discouraged if your pup doesn't take to it right away.
Things to avoid.
Do not use the Crate as a punishment area, your pup will start to associate in a negative manner and may end up afraid of it.
Take any collars off them while in the Crate in case they catch it on something.
Toys and long-lasting treats should only be with your pup under supervision, do not leave them alone with them in the Crate.