Considering a crate for your dog but not sure if it is the right solution? Have you heard that crates are bad for dogs or just plain mean to use? It’s time to take an objective look at using a crate for your dog, and examine the many ways that it can be both good for you and good for your dog.
A crate can be an excellent tool for training and keeping your dog safe. According to the AKC, most vets, trainers and breeders recommend the use of crates. The primary use for a crate is during house training, because dogs don’t like to soil in the place where they sleep, but it can also be advantageous for limiting access until your dog learns the rules. Furthermore, it is a great tool for keeping them safe while riding in the car, and in the house until they learn not to chew things that are not safe for them.
The following are some of the top reasons why a crate is good for your dog.
Crate training is one of the best ways to house train your puppy.
Because it is a natural behavior for a dog to not soil in the place where he sleeps, crate training can be an excellent way for your puppy to be housebroken. You will want to start with a crate that is only large enough for your puppy to stand up and move a little, but not big enough for them to move too much where they may try to split the area between their sleep space and a soiling spot. As your puppy grows, you can incrementally increase the size of his space within the crate. For more information on crate training, see our article on, “How to Potty Train Your Puppy in 5 Days.”
Puppies chew EVERYTHING.
While some puppies are bigger chewers than others, a puppy explores his world by chewing, much like a baby does. Although chewing is a natural behavior, a puppy has not yet learned what is appropriate to chew and what is not. Anything from shoes to carpets to furniture to extension cords are things to be explored from a puppy’s perspective. Aside from saving your stuff from destruction, there are some things that a puppy might try to chew and swallow that are dangerous for them. Therefore, when you have to leave the house or leave the puppy unattended, a crate can literally be a lifesaver for your precious pup. It gives them a contained space, with only the things that are acceptable for them to chew.
Dogs like the feeling of security that a crate provides.
Assuming that a crate has been introduced in a proper manner when your dog is a puppy, a crate can be a place of comfort and security. To a dog, a crate feels like a den would feel if they were in the wild. It is a place where they can hide and feel safe. When a dog is feeling stressed (like when there are fireworks or lightning outside), a crate can feel like a safe haven that allows him a place to retreat. This can be a great help if you have to be away, and you have a young puppy or a dog that may feel more nervous. The crate can actually be a source of comfort in your absence. That is not to say that a dog should spend excessive time in a crate. If you are crating your dog when you leave the house, make sure that you can get back soon enough to let him go outside. Young dogs need to go out frequently, and you should not consider leaving your dog in a crate when you go to a full day of work unless they are already around 2 years old. At that point, the longest a dog should be crated is 8 hours.
A crate is a great place to take a nap.
If you have trained your dog appropriately with a crate, so that they feel it is a safe space, and you put your dog’s bed inside, you may find that your dog likes to go in and lay down when you leave the door open. It can be a comfortable, quiet retreat for a nice, long nap. Just like many people, your dog is likely to appreciate his own space where he can be alone and relax. It’s just like him having his own room.
Crates can keep your dog and guests happy when you have company.
Although I don’t fully understand this, I have come to realize that not everyone likes dogs. Shocking! For that matter, some people are scared of dogs, often because they have not been around them, or because of some bad experience when they were growing up. So, it can be a good practice to sequester your dog before someone comes over, at least until your guest is comfortable with being introduced to your furry pal. This practice can also be helpful to give your dog a chance to settle down from the excitement of a new person in the house (his territory) before possibly jumping all over them. This is where a crate can come in handy. If you put the dog in the crate before the person comes in, once you have done your greetings, give the person a chance to see your dog while he is still contained. Let your dog have a chance to smell the visitor’s hand, and give them both the chance to both get acquainted. Make sure both are calm and ready for any out of the crate interaction before you let the dog loose. In some cases, either because the person is too anxious, or because your dog is too anxious, leaving the dog in the crate for the remainder of the visit may still be preferable.
Crates are a safe way to transport your dog in the car.
A car ride for a dog can be a fun and adventurous thing to do, especially because your little buddy loves to be able to go wherever you go. A dog doesn’t understand, however, the things that he needs to do, or not do, in order to be safe in the car. While he may love to have his head out the window, and his hair blowing in the wind, he doesn’t necessarily realize that jumping or falling out of a moving car is very dangerous. He also doesn’t realize that if you need to brake suddenly, the inertia is going to have him fall forward and possibly hit the dashboard or land on the floor. He won’t even understand why it’s not safe for him to be sitting on your lap or licking your face while you are driving. For all of these reasons, and more, having your dog in a crate while you are on the road is the safest way for him to travel.
Crates are a necessity if you travel by air.
Many dogs will take an airplane trip at some point in their lives, and if they do, they will have to be in a crate. If they are already comfortable with a crate, it will be a much better experience for them. It will reduce their stress in the midst of a very strange, and somewhat scary environment.
A crate can keep your dog safe in an emergency.
At times when there is a true emergency, or if your dog needs surgery for some unexpected condition, having your dog already comfortable with getting into a crate is going to help him be less stressed. There are situations where a crate is needed in order to evacuate a dog from a disaster, or to keep him confined and safe during an emergency, or to help him heal while being treated following surgery. If these things occur, the last thing you want is for the dog to become anxious and scared of the crate. The situation is already going to be stressful enough for the dog, just as it will be for you. There’s no need to compound that stress by your dog being unfamiliar or adverse to being in a crate. Avoid the potential crisis by making them comfortable with the crate when they are young.
Crates can be an exceptionally valuable tool for any dog owner for a wide variety of reasons. A crate should never be misused, however. It is not meant to be a punishment for a dog, or a place for them to stay for extended periods of time. Introducing a crate gradually and lovingly to your dog when he is a puppy will help him to find a sense of security and safety when it is needed. It will be a great asset in training, and a help when it is necessary for your dog to be confined. Used properly, a crate is great for you and your dog (yes, the rhyme was intentional, if not a bit corny).