Do you feel pangs of guilt just thinking about putting your pup in a crate?
Well, the benefits of crate training are huge and start paving the way for good behavior patterns. Crates are not only safe havens for your dog, but will become the go-to place for bedtime or naptime during the day. Plus, when you’re not around, crating your furry friend will not only prevent accidents and damage to your house, but ensures the safety of your dog. And bringing a crate along when you travel and stay in hotels will bring a calming familiarity to your dog when he’s in a strange place.
When puppies are left to their own devices, they can wreak all sorts of havoc, like chewing power cords, falling off high steps or balconies, and gnawing on furniture or molding (like my wood-loving Rottie did).
When puppies and grown dogs are introduced to crates using positive reinforcement, most learn to love their crates and will seek it out when they want to escape the hustle and bustle of a busy household. Dogs have a natural “denning” instinct and a crate is like their own private little bedroom. It’s also good to place the crate in your bedroom or other area of family activity, since dogs are social animals.
While some sleep through the night, it’s probably best not to leave pups in a crate longer than 2 to 4 hours during the day and adult dog no longer than 6 to 8 hours. Longer than that, you risk Fido using his crate as a potty place and that goes against his instinctive inhibitions against soiling his space.
A crate should be just large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. You can also get crates that have dividers where you can increase the space in the crate as your pup grows.
At night, you might want to think about covering the crate with a blanket or crate cover, since some dogs can’t wind down easily when there’s a lot of activity going on around them. Covering the crate prevents over-stimulation and creates a cozy feel and quiet, calm environment.
Motivate your pup to go in the crate by tossing in a favorite treat or toy and close the door only after he fully enters the crate on his own. He may whine at first (but don’t reward them by running to them when they cry – that will only reinforce that behavior). Gradually increase the amount of time your dog must remain quiet in the crate before you reward and release them. Outfitting the crate with a soft crate pad or blanket will also create a more comfy cozy escape for your pooch.
With positive training, patience and motivational talk and treats, you and your pup will be rewarded—so that your dog will learn to love his crate as his own little get-away and will retreat to it whenever he wants personal time.