The Benefits of Crate Training your Dog or Puppy
What is a crate like?
The size we bought was the second largest. The dimensions are 105cm long, 71cm wide and 76.5cm high. For those of you who work in inches that’s 41.5″ x 28″ x 30.25″. The crate is made from metal coated in a dark blue colour. On the bottom of the crate is a stainless steel base which has a lipped edge on all sides (so if there are any accidents they should be contained). The crate has two doors one at the front and one on the side. This gives you greater flexibility depending on how you position the crate in your room. The doors give good wide opening of 53cm so its easy to get your dog in and out of the crate and for you to reach in with food or water bowls or for easy access for cleaning. There are two carry handles on the top of the crate however it is quite heavy so you wouldn’t want to be carrying it around too much.
How to use the crate
You need to get your puppy accustomed to the crate. The manufacturers suggest gradually introducing your dog to the crate over a series of days or weeks so you dog sees the crate as a positive place to be. Depending on your circumstances this may be a difficult thing to do. Sit beside your dog whilst it is in the crate, reassure him, feed him in the crate so he associates the crate with good experiences. At this stage you should leave the door to the crate open until he becomes comfortable with being in the crate. Then start putting him in the crate for short periods of time and build this up. We were lucky in using the crate in that our puppy had spent time in a crate in the breeders kitchen and was used to sleeping in the crate overnight so he took to his new crate very quickly.
The crate should not be used as a punishment if the dog is misbehaving, it should always be treated as a positive place for the dog to go.
Remove the dogs lead and collar whilst in the crate in-case the tag or lead catches and chokes the dog. Do not leave any rope toys alone with the dog that might cause him an injury. Do not leave your dog alone in the crate for long periods of time. If you have children ensure they do not play in the crate, the crate should be your dogs personal space, a safe haven away from the bustle of the home where they can escape for a little while. Also if you are leaving your dog in the crate remember to leave it a water bowl.
How to use the crate for toilet training
Toilet training using a crate is said to be one of the most effective ways of housetraining a puppy. We used this method and found it very successful but I have had no experience in other methods so can’t really say whether it’s a better way or not. Using the crate for toilet training relies on the dogs natural instinct not to mess the area where they sleep. When the dog is in the crate he will not want to relieve himself as it is his bed, when you let the dog out you must take him straight to the garden then praise him when he goes. Using this method cuts out the need for newspaper training (can be a smelly and messy business) and should ensure your puppy is toilet trained quicker.
You can line the bottom of the crate with either newspapers or Puppy pads in-case your puppy does have an accident. Personally we used newspaper as our puppy decided he like to shred the puppy pads for fun. We only ever had 2 accidents and they were both pees in the first 2 days and then we never had another accident in the crate. We did however have some accidents in the house but usually because we hadn’t taken him out in time. You must take your dog out straight after a meal, when you come back in after being out or if you haven’t taken him out for a while. Most dogs will start to sniff the ground, whine or circle before going so if you see those signals grab him quick and take him out. By the time our dog was 3 months old he was fully toilet trained and sleeping through the night.
Using the crate when travelling
Crates can be used in cars in the boot area to prevent the dog from distracting the driver and keeping the dog secure when the boot is opened. They are also good if you are going on holiday as they can be used to keep the dog in one area overnight if you are staying at a new place. We don’t use our crate in the car as we use a dog harness so I can’t comment on this use. You might need a slightly smaller crate depending on the size of your boot so check this out before you buy it if you plan to use it in the car.
What size crate do I need?
When choosing a crate for your puppy you need to ensure it is large enough for your pet as an adult. It should be high enough for the adult dog to stand and wide and long enough for it to turn around and lie down. The crate we bought came with advice for the correct sizing. From the 5 sizes available ours is the second largest and is suitable for large dogs up to 41kg e.g. Labradors, Boxers and Dalmations.
Where should I put the crate?
This can be a difficult matter to decide. We chose to position the crate in our lounge when our puppy was small. This meant he was beside us for most of the time and felt included in family life. He could easily go in and out of his crate when he wanted to have a sleep. Now he is older he only uses the crate for sleeping in at night and we now have it positioned in our spare room where he gets peace and quiet to sleep.
When you are choosing an area to position the crate you must think of finding an area which is free of drafts and not next to radiators or in direct sunlight as your puppy could easily overheat.
I would recommend using a crate to anyone getting a new puppy. You feel much more at peace knowing that your dog will not come to any harm whilst you are out and that your house will not be torn to shreds. I know people think keeping dogs in crates is cruel but I do not believe this is the case. Dogs like having dens they feel safe its an inbuilt instinct and the crate is like a den to them. I think when crates are properly used they are the best thing for a puppy. Of course it is cruel to keep your dog in a crate for extended periods of time and the crate should not be used in this manner. Dogs need exercise and to move around and go to the toilet.
Although you can use the crate with older dogs it is much easier to introduce it to your dog as a young puppy as they accept new things much quicker and with less stress when they are young.
We have found the crate to be hardwearing, I expect it to last for years if not for life so its good value for money when you work it out over your dogs lifetime. Oscar our puppy is 8 months old and he likes to sleep in his crate overnight. He goes in quite happily and lies down on his bed and prefers to sleep inside the crate than outside at night. During the day he doesn’t go in the crate now but when he was a young puppy we would put him in the crate when we went out. I think used in the right way the crate is a valuable tool for toilet training and for giving your puppy or dog a secure place to sleep or just chill out.