Breeders and Vets Recommend Crate Training Your Dog
Although many dog owners may feel guilty for crate training their canine companion, enclosed spaces create a shelter for your dog to rest and relax. In fact, dogs instinctively seek small spaces to create protective shelters for themselves. Crates are useful training tools for puppies, safe havens for senior dogs, and lifesavers for emergencies.
Most veterinarians, trainers, and breeders recommend crate training dogs from a young age. Crate training is an essential part of housebreaking puppies, as dogs don’t like to soil their sleeping quarters. They learn to hold their bladder while they’re in their crate, so you won’t have to clean up messes.
“We recommend crate training every dog because you never know what’s going to happen in the future,” says Christine Kroh, intake coordinator at Beagles to the Rescue.
In emergencies, crate training can be the difference between safety and uncertainty. You must be able to evacuate your dog efficiently, so having a cooperative dog get into a crate quickly saves crucial time. Having dogs secured during evacuations reduces the chance of them getting lost or injured. It also allows your dog to stay with you during an emergency, since dogs typically have to be crate trained to remain in shelters with their owners.
Crate Training Makes Life Easier
For dogs that aren’t crate trained, crates may be the scariest part of a harried situation. Crate training can help prevent compounding a dog’s stress during emergencies. In worse case scenarios, dogs may be required to be on crate rest when recovering from surgery. Dogs are less likely to have complications following surgery when they can peacefully relax rather than accidentally aggravate injuries because they can’t settle down in a crate.
Crate training comes in handy during everyday life for dogs who might need a break from a bustling household or a familiar place to rest. Crates help dogs learn to self soothe, or deal with their anxiety, during situations where they become distressed, like during fireworks, a thunderstorm, or construction. Dogs can retreat to their crates when situations are too chaotic or scary. It also helps dogs confront new situations successfully, like the addition of a new baby having company over.
“If the dog’s freaking out, they think: ‘I can go hide in my crate and it’s safe here and nobody’s gonna bother me’. That helps them out for their lifetime,” says Kroh.
Crates make it easier to safely transport your dog by car or by air during long-distance travel or vacations. Crate training makes long car rides more pleasant for both humans and canines. Crates allow dogs to lay down and sleep without distracting the driver. It’s especially important for a dog to know how to behave in a crate during a flight since dogs must be contained on airplanes. You want to avoid sedating dogs during air travel since the American Veterinary Medical Association advises that sedation can increase the risk of heart or respiratory problems.
Crate Training Benefits Dogs of All Ages
Crates keep curious puppies safely sequestered when you’re not able to supervise them. Dogs instinctively try to keep their sleeping areas clean. As such, the crate helps puppies learn to hold and strengthen their bladder and bowel muscles, making housebreaking less of a chore for you and your dog.
“When they’re puppies, the crate really is the major tool that will help you house train,” says trainer Heike Purdon. “It teaches them that freedom is a privilege and you get more space as your house training skills become better.”
Crate training early in a dog’s life prevents introducing unnecessary stress later. When older dogs are dealing with illnesses like incontinence, arthritis, or canine cognitive dysfunction, they don’t need the additional stress of learning new rules.
Crate training helps senior dogs deal with health issues by providing a restful place to rest their joints or take frequent naps, prevents nighttime wandering, and makes transporting them to vet appointments easier. Crates also create safe havens for older dogs. They may be especially in need of this when surrounded by rambunctious children or other dogs.
Crate Training Benefits All Types of Dogs
For rescue dogs, a crate provides a safe space to adjust to their new surroundings as well as the luxury of not having to fight for their own space. Crates provide comfort to rescue dogs, since some are fearful around certain people or environments. This is particularly true for dogs with a traumatic past of neglect or abuse. Crates allow rescue dogs to know they have their own territory and no one will hurt them in it.
“With rescue dogs, the biggest behavioral issues we see are barking and being destructive,” says Kroh.
Many rescue dogs don’t have socialization skills, which can result in problems with destruction or barking. Crate training will improve their confidence and curtail problematic behavior.
Crate training benefits hunting dogs, keeping them comfortable during hunts and on the road. Of course, this also benefits hunters, since they’ll appreciate containing wet and muddy dogs. Many hunting dogs have spent most of their lives outside and have had little interaction with humans. Kroh advises crate training them the same way you would a puppy.
Since dogs feel responsible for their own territory, insecure dogs need less space to protect. A crate (rather than the entire house) means less territory to patrol, making it easier for them to relax.
Tips for Successful Crate Training
The first and most important step in crate training is making it a positive experience. Try feeding them meals or treats in their crate so crate time feels like a reward. Never leave dogs in their crate all day. Limit crate time based on how long they spend in their crate daily, their age, and level of house training.
Understanding the need for crate training is just the first step, but the training itself is another matter entirely. Make sure to do extensive research on how to crate train your dog, and be sure to stick to your plan to ensure the greatest chance of success.