A lot of people use crates for house training and keeping young puppies out of trouble. Once puppy is house trained and out of that teething stage, the crate
goes in the basement or is given away. Used properly a crate becomes your dog's safe place, where he feels safe and you know he's happy. Your dog should have a crate available through out his entire life!
Do you think of the crate as a cage or a prison cell? I think of the crate as a den, as the dog's private space. Once a dog is house trained, the crate becomes his 'safe space.' This is where your dog can go when he feels insecure, scared or doesn't feel like playing with your visiting cousin's children.
The crate is your dog's haven. This is not a place for punishment! Your dog should view his crate as a wonderful place to be and choose to spend time there. My 2 dogs have a total of 8 crates that they use!! Two are in my bedroom, two more in the den where the family spends most of our time, two are in my car and two more are for travel. I rarely put them in their crates and close the door. My dogs go into their crates on their own! They LOVE their crates!
If my dogs didn't like their crates, travel with them would be very difficult. Since my dogs travel with us (sometimes vacation is dog training camp!), they have to view their crates as wonderful places to be. I have to able to leave them in an unfamiliar hotel room where an unknown person may come in to clean and bring fresh towels and know that my dogs are safe and content. Since I have a Rottweiler and a Shep/Akita mix, some people are intimidated just by their presence! I like a clean room and clean towels, I don't want the maid running out refusing to return because she doesn't understand how sweet my girls are!
I also like to be able to crate my dogs when people visit who are afraid of them. (I know they're very sweet, but some people just see the outside!) This way my dogs are still in the middle of the action and very happy to be with us and my guests aren't intimidated by my dogs. It sometimes takes a little creativity to make everyone happy!
The key to crate training is to show your dog that wonderful things happen in the crate. When introducing your dog or puppy to the crate let him go in and out on his own at first. Put treats or toys in the crate so he'll go investigate. ALL treats and toys should be given in the crate when you first introduce it to your dog.
The crate should be in a room where the family spends most of their time. Dogs are pack animals. Your dog will be more content if he is with the rest of his pack/family, even if he is in the crate. Since my girls use their crates in the den, I also ended up putting crates in my bedroom when I realized that they preferred to sleep in their crates. My end tables on either side of my bed are crates!!
Some people object that the crate doesn't match their decor. You can now buy beautiful crates that look like pieces of furniture. If price is an issue, get an open wire crate, put a piece of ply wood on top and cover with fabric that matches your room. You now have a side table that will hold lamps, nik naks, drinks, etc. and your dog has his own room with the rest of the family.
The cover for the crate is not only decorative. The idea of a crate is to give your dog a 'den.' If he is exposed to the world and trapped in a crate, this will create stress and anxiety and the crate will be a place to be feared and hated, not the refuge for your dog that it should be.
A crate for your dog is necessary for a healthy, happy dog. It provides a safe, pleasant place for your dog when he is house training, still in that puppy chew everything stage, when people come over he doesn't want to play with or people who are afraid of him. A crate when traveling will make the trip easier and more enjoyable for you and your dog! Any dog who likes to go under tables, chairs or beds is a dog who NEEDS his own crate.
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