Call it a dog crate, an indoor kennel, or a cage this portable house is one of the 20th century’s best inventions for dogs.
The dogs’ natural instincts are to find a den, a place which offers protection and this is what a crate can offer.
- A safe, secure environment for a dog when you cannot be watching them.
- A safe haven for when your puppy is stressed by a situation, visitors, children etc.
- An effective housebreaking tool (because it takes advantage of the dog’s natural reluctance to soil its sleeping area).
- It can also be used to help anxiety and or prevent destructive behaviour. Plus it can serve as a travel kennel in the car.
Crate training a puppy
Allow the puppy free access in and out of the crate and praise them when they go in voluntarily. Try feeding puppy in the crate or hiding treats in it to create a positive place.
When the puppy is used to the crate it can be left with the door shut for up to an hour at a time and the puppy should be taken out at regular intervals.
Most dogs will soon come to regard the crate as their den and happily use it in their owner’s absence.
By now the door can be shut once the puppy goes in to sleep for the night, this will help with toilet training. Puppy will now be able to start the process of holding on all night. But remember if puppy is put to bed at 7pm and you don’t go to sleep until 10pm, they must be taken out just before you retire, then you know the puppy is content till morning. In the morning, take puppy straight outside to the toilet area and give praise instantly once puppy has gone. (It’s advisable not to play with puppy until they have done their business otherwise they will forget why they are out there and go once back inside).
The size of the cage should just fit your dog in, it should be able to turn around and lie down. You might need to upsize as the puppy grows. In the crate, place a bed, a special ‘crate only’ toy, food and water.
But use the crate sensibly…
- Do not confine a puppy for more than two hours at a time (except at night time); puppies need frequent periods of activity as well as plenty of sleep in the beginning.
- Try to be in the same room as the crated pup as much as possible so it does not associate separation anxiety with being in the crate.
- Ensure the crate is in a warm, dry, comfortable part of the house.
- If the tray on the bottom is metal and the cage is on a hard surface, place a towel under the cage to stop the rattling.
- DO NOT use the crate as a punishment area, the crate should always be seen as a happy place.
- If the puppy toilets on its bed, then remove the bedding and replace it with cardboard or paper. Puppies don’t like to sleep where it is wet. Once puppy has stopped soiling the paper, you can replace the bedding again.
- Once puppy has settled in the crate, they should not be disturbed; children should learn to leave them alone and never tease a puppy in its crate. This is puppy’s quiet and relax time. If you wish for the puppy to come out, call them, do not go in to the crate to pull them out.
- It is a good idea to feed puppy a few hours before an overnight sleep in the cage. This will give puppy time to toilet between dinner and the crate and therefore reduces the chance of mistakes.