“Get in Butter! No don’t turn around IN!” This is me, frustrated as I’m trying to persuade my puppy to get into her crate as I’m trying to get ready to go pick my husband up from work. She fights me and tries to sneak out but I swiftly close the door after all her limbs are in leaving her to stare through the door at me like I’m the cruelest person on the planet.
Is crate training truly necessary? Absolutely! Your dog will be better for it, not only that but crate training means an easier time housebreaking your puppy. Yes, I won’t lie, my dogs hate their crates, they make a fuss when they’re in it and its generally not fun. But its worth it. The house I come back to is clean, and not torn apart, and the dogs are safely tucked away.
Alright so I’ve got you into the store looking at crates for your dog, but which one? Let me give you a few pointers in crate buying.
Crate vs Kennel- Crates are generally the plastic boxes with holes along the side, and a wire door. These are great for travelling in as they are very sturdy. If you have a smaller dog, you generally don’t need a kennel. Kennels are usually all wire or metal cages, they have a plastic removable floor (for those foreseen messes) and usually are collapsible for when you have to travel, but aren’t generally designed for the dog to travel in. Always read the packaging and the manufacturers warnings, however, sometimes a crate isn’t strong enough for travel, and sometimes a kennel can be used for travel.
How big or small- As a rule of thumb, when choosing a crate or kennel for your dog, think about their fully grown size. No matter the breed, a dog should be able to stand up, turn around and lay down comfortably in the kennel, even if you toss a toy in there should be room for the dog. If your dog out grows a space, buy a new one don’t cram them in, it can be painful (think about trying to get into pants that are just too small).
I have two dogs, can I just get one large kennel- No, no, and uh no. The dogs each need their own space, they may not like you leaving them behind and may get anxious causing fights between the two. Please get a size appropriate crate for each of your dogs. Its just safer, and a lot more humanitarian.
They won’t be quiet in the crate- Every trainer I’ve heard or watched says to ignore the behavior. While this doesn’t work for Seraphim, she still screams and cries (though calms down after a bit). My suggestion is put the crates in a room that no one sleeps in, if you have a usable basement put them down there. Obviously you want the area to be heated, and secure from the elements. Outside is not an appropriate place for your dog’s kennel. Don’t address the behavior. In order for my girls to be let out every morning they must sit still and wait for me to open their door. This causes Seraphim to usually protest, she’ll bark at me while standing, but eventually she knows if she wants out she’s going to have to sit down and shut up.
Start a routine- Crate training is effective if immediately after the dog is allowed out of the crate they go outside. This starts a routine, I always let my girls go to the bathroom before they are put away and after they are let out. So they know they will have a chance at a break. I don’t suggest that a young puppy stay in their crate all day if it can be helped. They say one hour, per one month of age is how long a dog can hold it. Butter can hold it throughout the night, without waking us up anymore. Each dog will tell you, and trust me you’ll know, when they have to go out.
No food- I don’t provide my dogs with food or water when in the crate over night. They have a routine that around eleven to twelve every night they will go to sleep, and generally won’t be awake for that long during the night. They know its bed time, that we aren’t going to be up to entertain them. Food and water encourages them to eat and drink inside their little home which encourages them to have to go out. If you have to leave them in there all day and its truly hot out, lay down a newspaper and give them some water. Or if you can leave them outside secured in your yard with food and water available for them.
Clean it- I don’t think I should have to say this, but if the kennel, or the items in it get soiled clean it up. A dog will eventually realize the kennel is their ‘den’ and they will not soil it. However if you keep the scent of the defecation in the crate they will continue to use it for that purpose. Just clean it up.
As with anything our dogs show us that they want patience, and understanding. Seraphim is known to have anxiety when I leave the room and she can’t follow, where as Butter realizes that the kennel sucks because she can’t play, but its also a comfort of a routine. Remember to keep it consistent and positive.