Crate training has long been accepted by professional trainers and veterinarians as one of the quickest and least stressful ways to mold desirable behaviors in dogs. Although many new dog guardians initially reject the idea of using a crate because they consider it cruel or unfair to the dog, a crate helps satisfy the dog's instinct to be in a den while alleviating many problems dogs and their people experience.
What is a dog crate?
A dog crate is usually a plastic (often called flight kennels or Vari-Kennels) or collapsible metal enclosed pen that is just large enough for a dog to stand up and turn around. The crate is a place for the dog to be when no one is around to supervise him. It is the dog's bed and sanctuary. Its purpose is to provide confinement for reasons of safety, security for the dog, housetraining, prevention of destructive behavior, and/or travel.
Why use a dog crate?
Correctly and humanely used, a crate can have many advantages for both you and your dog:
- Can enjoy peace of mind when leaving your dog home alone, knowing that nothing can be soiled or destroyed-and that she is comfortable, protected and not developing any bad habits.
- Can housetrain your dog quickly by using the confinement to encourage control, establish a regular routine for outdoor elimination, and prevent accidents at night or when your dog is left alone.
- Can effectively confine your dog at times when she may be under foot (i.e., when you have guests, at mealtimes), over-excited, or bothered by too much confusion or activity (such, as lots of children running around the house).
- Can travel with your dog safely and be assured that she will more easily adapt to strange surroundings as long as she has her familiar "security blanket," her crate.
- Can enjoy the privacy and security of a den of her own, to which she can retreat when tired, stressed or not feeling well.
- Can avoid much of the fear, confusion and anxiety caused by your reaction to problem behavior.
- Can more easily learn to control her bowels and to associate elimination only with the outdoors.
- Can be spared the loneliness and frustration of having to be isolated, in the basement or outdoors, from indoor family surroundings when she needs to be restricted from certain things.
- Can be more conveniently included in family outings and trips instead of being left behind alone.
Because dogs are highly social animals, it is important they are indoors much of the time, even when you are not home or are sleeping and can't interact with them. Your dog needs to feel that he is a part of the family, and that feeling of belonging comes from being included in family activities and living in the house even when her family may not be there.
A crate allows you to leave her in the house when you are away, or unable to supervise her. If she were to spend large amounts of time outside, she would very likely start to exhibit problem behaviors such as barking, digging, fence jumping and chewing. These problems can be avoided by keeping her inside and making her an integral part of the family.