It really isn't cruel to crate
your puppy or dog. Once they are trained, they appreciate the comfort, safety, and security of their own space. Dogs have a natural instinct to be in a 'den', and so their crate becomes their private den or home.
If you take the time to properly, and patiently, crate train your puppy, both you and your dog will be happy for many years. You can even crate train an adult dog. A crate can also be referred to as a cage or kennel.
Purpose of crate training:
The primary purpose of crate training is 3-fold; one purpose is potty training; another purpose is to provide a safe place that your puppy knows as his space, his den, his place of safety; and the last purpose is so he won't chew or destroy household possession when unattended. A crate is NOT a place for your dog to be punished for bad behavior or he will associate the crate as a prison and not a good place to be.
Types of crates:
Wire: This easy to clean, wire crate is often used in the home and is made of sturdy metal wire screen that allows great air flow. This crate also allows the dog with a 360 degree visibility, depending on where it is placed. It will have a secure locking door. The best wire crates have a removable plastic or metal floor for easy cleaning. You can buy them with a divider that allows you to change the size of the usable floor space, increasing the floor space as he grows. With this feature, if purchased correctly, you can use the same crate as the dog grows.
They are usually collapsible for ease of moving, and they can be used at home, at a show, and in your car.
Plastic: The plastic, molded crates usually have handles, and are more confining but also provide more privacy. They have air holes for ventilation on top and sides, and have a wire screen door opening. These crates are good for small to medium-sized dogs when you are transporting them to the vet, taking them for a car ride, or on the airplane. (Check with your airline for rules and regulations.) They do not fold down. They are leak proof.
Canvas or nylon mesh: These soft sided crates are almost like a tent for your dog. They have study, durable nylon screen on the sides with zipper opening at the door. These are great for small dogs because they can be carried easily. Some have shoulder straps which make them easy to transport. You can also find dog strollers with this type of crate attached so you can go for a walk or run with your smaller dog.
Aluminum/stainless steel: An aluminum and stainless steel crate has less visibility for your dog, and is often used to transport your dog in the back of a pickup, especially when you want to take them on your hunting trip. They are sturdy, leak proof, and well ventilated.
Bedding for the crate: While your puppy is in the chewing stages, it is advisable to use old towels, rugs or blankets for comfort. Wait until your dog is passed the 'chew everything in sight' stage before investing in a nice, sized to fit, pad to put in the bottom of your dog's crate. During training, it is better that he chew or eliminate on disposable bedding. After training, these special crate pads add to the comfort of his crate.
1. Patience and consistency on your part is absolutely necessary!
2. A crate should NEVER be used as a place of punishment.
3. Purchase a crate before bringing your new puppy or dog home.
4. Leave the door of the crate open at first. Place a few treats inside the crate to encourage him to go in and explore. Remember: patience. He may not take too kindly to his new, strange home at first.
5. Place the crate so he can see you and the family. A crate is NOT for isolation confinement.
6. Do not leave a puppy in a crate for more than 1 hour at a time. They will need to eliminate often, even as often as every 30 minutes to an hour. The smaller the puppy, the more often they need to do their duty. Gradually increase the time he is in the crate, up to 4 hours, over a period of a couple of weeks. Even an adult dog should never be crated more than an 8 hour period of time. They do not want to mess in their sleeping area, but accidents will happen. Dogs are clean animals and they want to keep their space clean.
7. Should an accident occur, and they will, DO NOT punish your pet. Take him outside to finish his duty, and praise him every time he does it outside. Clean the entire crate and change the bedding. Any left over odors will be assumed by him that he has marked his territory and he may continue to soil the area. By having another crate in your bedroom so you can hear him when he needs to go out, will help you get him outside quickly. If he messes, it may be your fault that you did not get him outside soon enough.
8. When you place him in the crate, you can provide him with a safe toy or chew, a toy that cannot be swallowed, while you are away or busy in your home.
9. Do not crate him right after he has eaten. He will need to be taken outside to eliminate within the hour.
10. DO NOT crate a dog that has diarrhea or is vomiting.
11. It is advisable to remove his collar while he is in the crate to avoid any danger of it getting caught in the crate and choking.
12. Dogs are sociable animals, so don't confine him for long periods of time, especially when you are at home. You invited him in to your home, he didn't ask to come, so be kind, train him gently, and you will gain a friend for life!
Purchasing the Right Crate Size:
The crate should be large enough for him to comfortably stand, turn around, and lay down stretched out. Measure your dog standing and laying down, and add about 4' in height and length. Also, make sure the door is large enough for him to easily access the crate.
It is important to crate train your dogs. It may take a couple of days to a couple of weeks, but it will be worth it. Be patient. Do not use the crate as a punishment, or over use it for confinement purposes because you don't want to be around him. If that is the case, you may want to take some training classes with him so the dog is more pleasant to be around. The more you create an atmosphere that the crate is a happy place for him to be, the more comfortable he will be using it.
Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian nor do I have any formal training in any medical field. This article is not to replace the advice of your veterinarian. I am only providing options and ideas that you may want to discuss with your veterinarian.
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