SHOULD I CRATE TRAIN MY DOG?
By Pete Eromenok
Have you ever noticed that a lot of dogs like to sleep under tables or between the sofa and the love seat? There probably is a good reason for this. Some canine specialists believe that dogs have a natural instinct to den. Females getting ready to give birth definitely do. I can only think of positive reasons why pets should be trained to enjoy their crate.
Many people see this as cruel because they attach human logic and emotions to canines. This line of thinking is understandable because dogs are loved members of our families. However they are still canines and for their benefit and well being it serves them best if they can be accustomed to confinement for short periods of time.
Crates are wonderful things! Dogs need alone time, if they don’t get it, you may never be able to separate yourself from them without them becoming stressed. Even worse, they may develop separation anxiety. Dogs who have a hard time being away from their owners will often destroy the house when they are alone. Or use the house for a toilet. Sometimes people think their dog is being spiteful when he behaves this way, but dogs do not have the ability to be spiteful. Spite is a human emotion, which dogs do not possess, regardless of how their behavior appears to us. They simply haven’t learned that it’s ok to be separated from their pack. Dogs with certain temperaments are prone to this, and a slow training process is needed to help them become more relaxed.
Most dogs can learn to just wait it out. Although crate training can be a slow process for some dogs, it can be done and should be done for the benefit of both parties. It is much kinder to train him to relax when he needs to be confined.
Here are some positive aspects of having a dog comfortable in his crate:
First, excessive barking stresses dogs out and can lead to loose stools (stress induced) which is also bad for your carpet.
If you ever go on vacation you would want your pet to be pleasing to those caring for it, being accustomed to confinement is crucial.
If you ever take him for a ride and you need to stop at the store, the crate training might carry over to the car and you can return to find your interior intact!
You can house break your dog more quickly because it learns to control its bowels. Most dogs don’t like resting in their own waste. This also gives him a regular routine for eliminating outdoors.
It aids in preventing accidents while the family sleeps at night [If your dog is at this stage]
The list of positives goes on and on. Eventually the dog can be trusted to spend most of his time outside the crate, but the crate training must still be maintained. In the end you will have a dog that likes his crate and lives responsibly outside of it.
Here are some general guidelines that will help you with the training:
To start off, you can feed the dog in the crate. If he refuses to go inside then leave the food in there and most dogs will eventually be lured in. if he won’t go in because he is afraid you will have to get him a more tempting lure, such as cheese, meat or hot dog. If he still doesn’t go in, maybe missing a meal will encourage him to venture in. If your dog has medical problems and can’t miss a meal don’t do this. Most dogs will get it. Let him freely come and go from his crate and do not shut him in. After there is no fear associated with the crate you may then start closing the door while he eats. Gradually increase the time he is in the crate with the door closed. You may put familiar items in the crate or a chew item to take his mind off confinement.
When the dog has progressed and is comfortable in the crate with the door closed you can now start leaving the room for a short time, but don’t be gone too long at first; maybe 30 seconds and then increase from there. If barking starts don’t let him out and don’t give in. If you open the crate while he is barking, he will immediately learn that barking lets him out and that will be tough to correct. Don’t use the crate for punishment. We want the crate to be looked at as a good thing.
The proper use of a crate is not cruel. It is not a jail. It’s their special place, where they can go to relax or just look for a goody. He will not resent or hate you. Dogs are not people. If you are the leader of your pack he will see this as a pleasing thing to do. It is also a great way to start teaching your pet new things to stimulate their thinking.
The more a dog is trained the easier it is for him to learn new concepts, so don’t just stop at the crate training. There is a world of dog games and sports out there that your dog would find exhilarating. So have fun!