The practice of crating is a bipartisan debate in the dog world. Some defend crating while some strongly argue against it. The truth is, if done correctly and safely, crating your dog is beneficial and shouldn’t be looked down upon. Crates have the potential for misuse, which is why it’s important to understand how and why they are used. If you don’t view the crate as a puppy prison, neither will your dog, so it’s important to properly introduce him to his crate to help him associate it as a safe refuge and space of his own.
So, what if you need to crate your dog? Puppies are introduced to crates relatively easily by placing a toy or treat inside. This is important, as positively associating the crate with things they love will make the training process that much easier. You should start by letting your dog walk in the crate to eat a treat and then freely walk out. After about a half hour, start closing the crate’s door when your dog is inside but not looking at you. Try this for a few seconds, and then let him out. It’s important to remain calm, as making your dog excited when you open the door will negatively impact training. Gradually increase the time the door is closed but don’t push your dog past his limits. Next, try leaving the room and then opening the door once you re-enter (remember to stay calm!). Take your time and stay positive. Over time, your dog will adjust and can be left alone and will start going to their crate voluntarily. Training an adult dog to like a crate is similar to that of a puppy’s, but will most likely take a longer period of time. As your dog gets older, the time spent inside the crate can increase but even adult dogs shouldn’t be left alone longer than 7 or 8 hours, at most, in a crate.
A major issue of crate training or crating in general is the urge to let your dog out if he starts whining. With a puppy, the only time the door should be opened is if he has to go to the bathroom (but never leave your dog alone in the cate for longer than an hour in the first days of his crating). A good tip is to open the door and carry your puppy outside and place him on the ground, as this eliminates any doggy deception and desire to wander around outside the crate. If your pup legitimately had to use the bathroom, he would go immediately. If he doesn’t relieve himself, put him back in the crate for around 30 minutes to teach him that whining does not result in rewards. Another reason why your dog should be let out of the crate is if he has anxiety problems or is extremely fearful of crates. In this scenario, seeking the help of a professional trainer would be most beneficial. Otherwise, keep in mind that barking or whining dogs should be quiet for a few minutes before being let out. If not, your dog learns that whining and barking brings them rewards and works as a door-opening mechanism. We can agree, though, that hearing the cries and whines of a puppy is definitely a tear-jerker. The first few nights are notoriously rough for both puppy and owner but if you can’t resist, lay down by the crate until your dog falls asleep, as if you were going to bed there. This process takes patience and time but will help your dog feel well-adjusted and safe. Crates allow dogs to have a space of their own and keeps them out of danger when they can’t be supervised. Proper training is extremely important and will definitely benefit your life and your dog’s.
There are certain points that must be considered when crating a puppy. It is cruel to leave a dog in a crate for extended periods of time. More than 4 hours in a crate is definitely disadvantageous and can pose major health risks to your dog. Be mindful that your crate is the proper size for you dog. When choosing a crate, be sure that your dog can comfortably stand up, turn around, and lay down. Confining your dog to a space that is too small for their size is inhumane and increases the risk of many mental and physical health complications. A crate can also be dangerous if it’s not properly assembled, as a collapsing crate will scare your dog and potentially injure him. Buy a crate that is of high quality so that it’s safe, functional, and long-lasting.