Friday, February 25, 2011

Consider the Crate

Though we would love to spend every minute of every day with our dogs, life has a way of pulling us in many directions. When left to her own devices, your dog may have her own re-decorating ideas that you might not agree with, like a chiseled look on couch legs or splashes of yellow on the beige carpet. When any of these unfortunate situations arise: enter the crate.

Though crate training often gets a bad rap, crates are an excellent training tool, vital for housebreaking, and are a source of comfort for many dogs. Dogs like small spaces to nestle and hide in, and when you use a crate you are essentially creating a private room for your dog. Therefore, you need to furnish it appropriately with a soft blanket or dog bed as well as their favorite chew toys or a bone. Place a water bowl or attach a hamster water bottle to the side of the crate to keep your dog hydrated and comfortable.

When to Use a Crate

If you have just brought home a puppy and want to start housebreaking. The purpose of the crate is for the puppy to "hold it", however; puppies should never go longer than a few hours. It is recommended that you calculate an hour for each month of age i.e. 3 months of age: the puppy should be in the crate no longer than 3 hours. Dogs have a natural tendency to avoid eliminating in the place where they sleep but only if it is for a certain amount of time. If you don’t have time to housebreak your puppy, drop her off at Morris K9 Campus and we will take over with our special Puppy Housebreaking Program.

If you are concerned about your dog finding electrical cords or poisonous substances lying around your house, like household cleaning products give yourself peace of mind and crate your dog will you are gone.

If you want to prevent your dog from having separation anxiety. Crating will help adjust her to time spent alone, so it is important to let your dog be. To help your dog settle, try freezing a chew toy with peanut butter so they forget about you and focus on their yummy treat.  If you have young children, tell them to leave the dog alone.

When traveling with your dog, whether by car or plane, most hotels that allow dogs require them to stay in a crate. If your dog has already adapted to the comforts of her crate, it will make your travel much easier.

How to Adjust Your Dog to a Crate

When first introducing your dog to a crate, keep the door open and don’t close it the first couple times she ventures in. This will ensure your dog does not feel trapped.
Keep the crate near you in whatever room you are in so that your dog becomes comfortable with it and does not associate it with your absence.
Place treats inside the crate and tell your dog to go find the treats. You can even try putting her food dish inside or immediately outside of the crate itself.

Do not use the crate as a form of punishment or your dog will never want to go in the crate.

Most importantly, remember to reward your dog with praise and small treats when she uses her crate. Once your dog adjusts to the concept of crating, she will value this private sanctuary you created for her and find comfort in her own space.

Dog-Friendly Dog Training by Andrea Arden (Howell Book House)

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