I was exhausted and dragging myself up three flights of stairs when I saw it, a giant ball of tan thread laying in the hallway like a slayed dragon. My heart quickened and my throat fell into my stomach. I knew what was waiting for me behind door number one and I was desperately searching for door number two.
I cracked open the door and waited for the title wave I knew was coming. Nothing. The silence was even more unsettling than the ball of massacred carpet that lay in the hallway.
I slowly wandered through the apartment when I suddenly noticed the sound of trickling water. I had come to an abrupt halt in the doorway to our bedroom. There he was. The beast in all his glory…standing on my dresser, lifting his leg peeing all over my mirror and jewelry stand. I wanted to cry.
Growing up my parents had always utilized a crate but like many, it appeared to me as a form of imprisonment and I vowed to never use one. Hind sight is twenty-twenty.
Thus began my love affair with crates.
If used properly crates can be multi-functional. First and likely the most important, they provide a safe and secure place for your pup to rest, retreat and de-stress from things that may cause them anxiety or discomfort. Dogs are natural den animals, they are drawn to small, dark places that can offer security from threats or shelter from nasty weather. Just because your dog is domesticated does not mean their need for a secure place to sleep is mute.
Secondly, crates can be an awesome tool when trying to a keep an adventurous and destructive puppy or adult dog, safe. They are also great tools that can give you an edge when it comes to potty training.
First thing first, choosing a crate. There are three types of crates; metal, plastic and cloth. There are benefits and draw backs to each kind so you’ll have to determine what is best for you and your pooch based on your dogs needs and personality.
*Collapsible for easy transport & Set up
*Can be re-sized as your pup grows (Removable dividers)
* Allows for more airflow
*Easiest to clean (most have slide out trays)
*Gives the dog a 360 degree view (not always a good thing)
*Create a more "den" like feel
*Decreases the view (good for high activity households)
*Required by law when traveling by plane
*Dogs can easily chew threw plastic
*Easy to store as they are generally very
pliable and easy to fold
*NOT for destructive or active dogs
*Can become stinky over time
After you've chosen the type of crate it’s important to make sure you purchase the correct size crate. If you are using the crate for housebreaking it should be large enough for the dog to lay down comfortably, stand up and turn around without crouching. Dogs do not like to potty in their resting quarters so by limiting their space you will decreased and likely eliminate the possibility of them relieving themselves while in the crate. If the crate is too large you will likely come home to a moon pie in the back of the crate while your pup sleeps soundly towards the front. If the crate is simply serving as your pups “bedroom” feel free to give them a presidential sized suite to retreat to.
Crates should NEVER be used as a form of punishment. Banishing your dog to a crate when they've misbehaved is a sure fire way to guarantee your dog will develop a hatred for the square box in the corner. You want the crate to be associated with positive experiences only. With that being said you have to show your dog that their new room is friendly. Start by hiding some treats under the dog bed or behind their squeak toy. They will begin to think the crate is a magical treat machine and will make a routine of stopping by to see if any new treats have appeared.
When you’re ready to start leaving your pup alone, start with short increments and increase the length of time they spend crated gradually. Some dogs, especially puppies, my whine or cry for a bit but it's important to not give in or acknowledge their tantrum. Giving in will make crate training and possibly other training quite difficult as it speaks to pack order and dominance.
Adult dogs can be left alone for roughly 8 hours per day. Just make sure you provide an adequate amount of play time before and after crate time, roughly 30 to 60 minutes. Puppies under the age of a year should not be left confined to a crate for any more than a few hours at a time. Confining any dog to a crate for long periods can lead to physical and emotional issues.
If your dog is properly introduced to his or her crate they will grow to enjoy having their own space and will likely retreat to this space on their own without prompting. Especially during times of stress like the fourth of July or during thunder bumpers.
***IMPORTANT*** Dogs who suffer with anxiety or show signs of distress like foaming at the mouth or digging at the crate bottom should NEVER be crated.
Here is an AWESOME link to a much more in-depth article on how to properly crate train your dog!
Stay tuned for how to address your anxiety ridden dog...
Please leave any questions or comments you have below!
With over 10 years of experience through ownership and rescue work, I hope to share my knowledge and insight to happier, healthier fur kids. Have a question, feel free to ask!