Crates and Canines—Den or Prison?
Dogs are den animals.
They enjoy having a safe place to go to when they feel uneasy about
something or just want to be alone. A
crate, when introduced properly, provides a den-like atmosphere for your dog, especially
when your dog is young or new to your household. Housebreaking is much easier with a crate and
provides a safe place for destructive dogs to stay when left alone. It’s important to introduce the crate in a
positive way so both you and your dog feel this is a good place--not a
prison. By following the steps below,
you can make crate training an enjoyable process for both you and your dog.
a crate that is the correct size for your dog. Measure the dog’s height to the
shoulders and length from chest to base of tail; then add 4” -6” to each
measurement. The dog should be
able to comfortably turn around and stand up in the crate. Be sure the crate is not too big if you
plan to use it as a housebreaking tool.
The crate can be plastic or wire.
of the crate is important. The dog
needs to feel a part of the family even when in the crate, so choose a
part of the house where everyone spends the most time.
treats in the crate and allow the dog to go in and out freely. DO NOT FORCE YOUR DOG INTO THE
CRATE! The dog needs to learn that
going in and out of the crate is no big deal.
your dog refuses to go in the crate, try using more enticing treats. You can also start feeding your dog near
the crate and slowly start to move the food dish into the crate. Your dog will begin to get hungry enough
it will want to enter the crate to eat.
- DO NOT
close your dog into the crate in the beginning. Allow your dog to feel comfortable with
the idea of going in and out of the crate first.
your dog is comfortable with the crate, begin to close the door for short
periods of time. Just a minute at
first, then increase the time. Give
the dog lots of praise when you open the door and a treat.
- As you
increase the time the dog is in the crate with the door closed, stay in
sight at first. Give your dog a
special treat like a KONG (a rubber toy) stuffed with peanut butter and
kibble while she’s in the crate. Ignore
whining and barking. If you let
your dog out when she’s whining or barking, your dog will only start
whining and barking more when put in the crate.
your dog is comfortable with the crate while you are in the room, start to
go out of sight for short periods of time and increase the time slowly
that you are in another room.
your dog is comfortable in the crate with you out of the room, start to
leave the house. Again, start for
short periods of time and increase the time limit slowly always being sure
to leave your dog with a special, safe toy for entertainment.
a while your dog will learn that being in the crate is just fine. You can use the crate to keep your dog
confined at night or during the day when you are gone. It can also be used for times that you
are busy around the house and unable to watch your dog if you are housebreaking
or have an avid chewer.
put your dog in the crate in an angry way.
If you need to use the crate as a time out for an overactive or
misbehaving dog, be sure to use a calm voice and tell your dog “Quite
time” as you give him a toy in the crate. Leave the dog in the crate only for a
short time and then allow them to come out and practice calmer
- A dog
should never be kept in a crate longer than six to eight hours. If your dog needs to be confined to a
crate for eight hours, hire a dog sitter to come mid-day to put your dog
out and spend some time playing with your dog.
should only be kept in a crate the same number of hours that they are
months in age (i.e. a four-month old puppy should not be in a crate longer
than 4 hours) and no puppy should be kept crated longer than five
hours. Not only are puppies unable
to hold their bladders for long periods, behavior problems from boredom
and lack of socialization will occur if puppies are isolated for long
- If you
find that your dog just will not adjust to the crate after following the
above procedures and you fear that your dog will get hurt by frantic
attempts to get out, you may have a dog that is suffering from separation
anxiety. Professional assistance is
usually necessary to help desensitize a dog with separation anxiety. Log on to www.apdt.com to find a trainer
in your area to help you with this problem or e-mail Center
for an e-mail consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.