Small dog in crate

Puppy happy in crate

Working with your dog to create a well-behaved family member is important for your dog, yourself, and your family. One of the most basic gifts you can give your puppy or dog (and yourself!) is a place of their own. A crate that they can use for sleeping, resting, quietude and getaway time is a highly recommended item. It is an excellent tool to use for potty training and it offers you a place where they are safe, out of the way, and quiet.

While there is ongoing discussion around whether domesticated dogs actually need a den, many dogs prefer to have a safe place or sanctuary they can go to, a familiar, comfortable sleeping place, and an area they can call all their own. Smaller or more insecure breeds especially feel safer in a crate with solid sides, such as a plastic crate or a crate with a cover.

Getting your puppy or dog used to a crate is a simple matter, and once they are, the crate can be used in a variety of circumstances, such as safely being in the car, going to the vet, or on vacations. For dogs that like to be close to their human all the time, moving the crate from room to room offers a portable sanctuary and ‘bedroom’. This is more practical for the smaller breeds; larger breeds may need more than one crate so you don’t have to move it.

The three steps to crate train your puppy or dog are:

One: get them used to the crate by putting a favorite toy or chew inside and let them find it there. Always keep the door open, and never use it as a prison or punishment for bad behavior. They should never associate their crate with any negative uses.

Two: for puppies, putting them in for an hour at a time, then taking them outside or to the potty place is ideal, and reinforces the idea of 'going out' to do their busienss. If they start to nap, place them in the crate so they associate it as their bedroom., Chew toys reinforce the craet as a rest and quiet area.

For adult or older dgs, putting a treat inside, along with a favorite pillow or rug will soon get them accustomed to using the crate. As they should already be potty trained, the focus will be on training them to use the crate appropriately, and to go there on command.

Three: for both puppies and dogs, slowly start closing the door for short periods of time, to get them used to being inside when you are away, or when it is preferred they not have free access in the home. Start with very short periods of time, and gradually increase this over time. This can be particularly helpful for when company is over, small children or other dogs are visiting (if they don't get along), or when you are going out for a short time and wish to restrict them for that time.

If your dog should not have open access to the house for whatever reason, do not lock them in their crate for very long periods of time, such as over night, or all day while you are at work. This will be counterproductive. It is better to have a larger containment area instead, where they can walk around and move; if the crate fits into this area easily, so much the better.

There are numerous ways to create a containment area, such as retractable gates or portable fences, and this is a much better way to limit your dog’s access if you are going to be gone for several hours at a time or overnight. They will need a place to go to the bathroom, and they should never associate the crate with this purpose. While adult dogs can usually hold it for several hours, puppies cannot and should not be expected to.

Having a crate-trained puppy or dog can be a godsend, and be very helpful to the dog and give peace of mind to you.

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