Having doubts about crate training your new dog?
It’s a common misconception that in order to properly crate train a dog you have to start when they are a puppy. In reality it can be a vital tool to helping a new puppy, young or senior dog settle into their new home. Most Veterinarians, breeders and trainers recommend crate training from a young age, but it can be taught at any stage of life with time, patience and many treats! Crate training can provide a sense of safety and security to your dog and give you peace of mind while they learn the rules of the house.
There will be many that say crating a dog all the time is cruel, unkind, or wrong. To be fair, if you are having to crate them for more than 12 hours at a time they could have a point. But, if it is being used as a training tool, from potty training to not being destructive when left alone, it is a powerful option to allow you peace of mind that you won’t be coming home to a mess after stepping out to run some errands. The goal of our crate training is to create a safe space your pup may actually seek to nap in on their own, curb any bad behaviors and give you peace of mind that in an emergency they will quickly load themselves for transport if needed.
If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.
Crates are a vital tool in housebreaking a new puppy as dogs don’t like to soil where they sleep. They will instinctively try to hold their needs until they can get out to a location you then teach them is the place to go. While initially they may have an accident, they will learn quickly their crate is not the place they want to go in. It is also a great way to help avoid your furniture from becoming a chew toy when you are not there to stop and correct that kind of unwanted behavior. Puppies don’t mean to destroy your property, they are babies and as such just want to test everything new around them! Without hands…that means putting it in their mouth. This can also happen with older pups that have been rescued and have never lived in a home before. Providing lots of chew toys and placing them in a crate to prevent them from trying out the couch when you’re not home is a great way to ensure everyone is happy.
Dogs generally seek small spaces to create protective shelters for themselves when they feel stressed. Having a crate gives them a perfect space to escape to when they want to be alone or to feel safe in a stressful situation. It is important to make sure the crate is theirs and it is never used as a punishment. Once a pup is fully potty trained and you aren’t worried about accidents we recommend adding blankets, a bed, toys and even an item of clothing that smells of you to the crate to make it a “home” for them. This helps make them more willing to go right into their crate when asked and makes it a space they can go to retreat to if they are not comfortable when you have company over or they have a fear of storms.
Start crate training right away so it becomes a part of their life and routine. No matter what age, it should be one of the first things you introduce them to in their new home. If you are getting a puppy and want to use it for potty training we recommend getting a kennel that is designed to allow you to change the size of the crate as they get bigger. They need to have enough room to stand up and lay down comfortably, but if it’s to big when they are little they are more likely to have accidents in the furthest corners as they can “escape” the mess.
Once they are potty trained and you are comfortable they are unlikely to have accidents, make it a warm and cozy retreat. Beds, toys, water dishes are all great ways to do this. If your pup has separation anxiety adding a t-shirt you’ve worn recently or a pillowcase you were about to throw in the wash can help calm them as they can snuggle up to your scent. Many owners find a crate cover a great way to make the space more cave like and calming as well. You can drape a blanket over them, but if you have a new puppy or an older dog prone to chewing things they are likely to find a corner and drag it in to the crate and chew it up.
The number one rule to proper and safe crate training is to never use the crate as a punishment. If you place them in the crate while angry and then leave them/ignore them while in it they will begin to associate it with bad situations. Once that happens they will fight you about entering it voluntarily all the time, posing a potential danger in an evacuation situation and causing frustration for you both when you are attempting to leave the house.
Remember, you don’t HAVE to crate them all the time when you are gone. That is strictly a choice from person to person. But by teaching them how to enter their crate voluntarily, and using it as a tool to assist in basic behavioral training you can avoid many accidents and chewed upon property as you learn to live with one another! As they adjust to their new life and learn what they can and can not play with you can scale back on having them crate when you leave the house. Eventually you can discontinue completely if you prefer, but we do recommend you leave the crate out for them to retreat to when they want and periodically ask them to crate to keep the training fresh.