By Malaika Heinbaugh owner of Dog Gone Amazing Dog Training
There are so many great reasons to crate train your dog, whether it’s a puppy or an adult. How many times have you seen your dog sleep in the tightest ball making you wonder how they can sleep like that? How many times have you come home to a destroyed house? How often have you had potty training problems with a young or even older dog? Crate training is great for helping in all those areas.
Some people may think it’s cruel to lock your dog up but I couldn’t disagree more. It’s actually worse to let your dog have that much free range that can easily lead to boredom that results in total destruction of your house or yard. Try walking around your house looking at everything from a dog’s perspective. How many things can they get into… probably a lot more than you can imagine. There are shoes, electric cords, trash cans, toilets, toilet paper, furniture, tables, socks, clothing, anything you may leave on the counter, cabinets they can open, blinds they can chew, door frames, household cleaners, their dog food containers… the list goes on and much of what I listed can be very harmful to a dog and to your wallet. Even wood can cause extreme stomach upset or perforated intestines and socks or clothes can cause blockage and may result in thousands of dollars worth of surgery. I tell my clients that if dogs can get away with something, they will!! They’re smart that way. I can usually just do a firm gasp and my dogs know they are in trouble. I have to remember that if my dogs get into something it’s because I forgot to put it away or pick it up so I really can’t blame them. Now don’t get me wrong, I have several dogs that lie on the couch all day and don’t get into any trouble but I have one that I crate purely because she will get into everything. She loves her crate… all my dogs do; even the ones that generally get to spend the day lose on the couch because I taught them as puppies. They have the best blankets in there, usually get a treat to go in and sometimes they have a toy in there. I still use the crate because wherever I am, their crate is the same. So if I travel, I take their crate. It will ease their anxiety of being in a new or different place and is sometimes a requirement for dog’s to stay in a hotel.
Another huge reason to crate train your puppy is for potty training purposes. Dogs do not like to be too near their excrement so if the crate is the right size, small enough so they can just lay down, they will learn to hold it. Now of course you can’t expect your 8 week old to hold their potty times for an eight hour time frame…. the basic rule of thumb is puppies can hold it one hour for every month old they are. So a 2 month old puppy has a few hours of holding it, a 6 month old should have 6-8 hours max. This is just a rule of thumb because I have a lot of clients that know their 12 week old pup can pass out and sleep all night, others may need to let their pup out several times throughout the night.
There are two main kinds of crates and I like both for different reasons. The hard sided, plastic crates are great to teach a dog in. They are easier to clean and contain excrement. Also they are the most difficult for the dog to get out of. The disadvantage of the hard sided crates is that they can get hot in there and the hard sided crates are not easy to store as they are a bit bulky. The second kind of crate is the wire crate. Dogs stay cooler in them and they fold down nicely to store or travel. These are not the “den” environment dogs usually like but I throw a blanket over the crate to create that den feeling as long as I know the dog will not chew on the blanket. The disadvantage of the wire crate is that a dog can bend the wire and get out and may hurt their teeth. I start with a hard sided crate and then move to a wire crate when my dogs are potty trained and crate trained.
Remember the basic rule: if a dog can mess up, they will. Set them up for success and crate train your dog. There are proper ways to do that and I hope you consult your dog trainer or Dog Gone Amazing to show you the right way to crate train your dog.
Dog Gone Amazing Dog Training