Crate Training – Is It For You and Your Dog?
Crate training has raised much debate as to whether it is something useful for dogs or if it is just a lazy way to keep your dog out of your hair. While some people believe it to be something mean, I prefer to see it as your fur baby’s private room and their own space they can use when they want space and alone time.
As we know, dogs are pack animals that, in the wild, tend to have a den as their private space. This helps your dog know he/she has his/her own space and it is secure. As most of us know, a trained dog and a safe dog is a confident dog.
As well, having a crate tends to help those dogs who are chewers or destructive dogs around the house (you know, the kind of dogs that will chew dry wall or ruin your couch), by keeping them out of harm’s way and giving you peace of mind knowing that you’ll come home to a clean house, still in tact.
The main points to consider are:
- Crates are mainly used for house training, as most dogs will not soil where they sleep.
- If you want your dog to freely go into his/her crate, NEVER NEVER NEVER use the crate as a punishment. DO NOT make the dog go into it when you are scolding him/her. Put them in another room as a time out.
- The crate should always be associated with something pleasant. For example: When we put Sasha in her crate, we always give her treats and toys to occupy her time in there while we are gone. To start off with, you can feed your dog his/her meals in the crate, DO NOT lock the door while they are eating and let them freely come in and out of the crate to see that it is something positive and not something negative.
- Make sure the crate is big enough for the dog to stand on all fours in and they are able to turn around within the crate. We don’t have a huge crate for Sasha, as she likes snug enough spaces (I swear, she thinks she is a Chihuahua! She tries to cuddle up in the tightest of spots, it’s hilarious).
Also, if you bought a Thundershirt, and your dog experiences some stress going into and staying in the crate, using that shirt and putting it on about a half hour before you leave, will help calm the dog and she/he won’t be prone to whining or feeling separation anxiety.
Please know that it takes time and patience before your dog will be happy and comfortable in their crate. We bought a pillow bed for Sasha to create something comfortable and soft for her in her den. We also call it a den because when we first started using the word “crate”, she would whine and freak out when going into it at any time. It seems to work. Here is the crate we bought for Sasha, with the proper dimensions for her.
Always make sure to praise your dog when they do something right or when they stay in the crate and don’t whine or soil it.
Here is an excellent article that I followed when crate training Sasha. It took about a month and a half to train her so that she actually enjoys going into it and will now sleep in it all night. I hope it works for you!