Dog Crates

We have never really used a dog crate for our dogs but if another dog comes into our lives, I am convinced that a dog crate is the way to go!  If you think about it, the dog crate may just be one of the most awesome inventions of the doggy world!  There are wire crates, plastic crates and if you want a crate that doesn’t sacrifice design, then a wood dog crate might be for you.  Wood dog crates are perfect when you don’t want to sacrifice the elegance of your home and has solved that problem.  Everybody is familiar with plastic and wire crates but have you seen wood dog crate end tables?  They are the perfect addition to your living room without being an eye sore!  What a great idea!

There are many good reasons to use a dog crate and there are probably more pros to using a dog crate than cons.  The following are some of the different ways dog crates can be used.

They can be used for:

  • Housetraining your dog.  Dogs have a natural tendency to keep their sleeping area clean and therefore most dogs won’t go to the bathroom in the same place they sleep.  Most likely, your dog will try to hold it when he is confined to his crate.  It is important to crate your puppy for only as long as he can reasonably control his bladder and bowels.  If your puppy is less than six months old, he shouldn’t be kept in the crate for more than three or four hours at a time and the same is true for an adult dog that is being housetrained.  Ideally, they should be let out every 1 – 2 hours.  If a puppy or a dog is crated for too long, they may start having accidents in the crate which undermines the housetraining of your dog.  It can become a vicious cycle so it is important not to leave your puppy or adult dog in the crate for too long.
  • Protecting your dog.  Dogs can get into many things when they are left alone in the house.  Crating your dog will prevent him from getting into toxic cleaning fluids or from chewing on electrical cords.  It will also keep him from eating poisonous plants and from getting into other dangerous things that are sitting around the house.
  • Protecting your property.  A crate is inexpensive when compared to furniture or other belongings that have to be replaced because your dog destroyed them.  Once you can trust your dog not to destroy the house, he shouldn’t be crated.  The crate should then become a place where your dog can go voluntarily.
  • Introducing chew toys.  Giving your dog a couple of chew toys in his crate will keep him busy and will keep him out of trouble.
  • Giving your dog a timeout.  If your dog becomes excited and starts jumping on you or nipping at you, you can use the crate for a brief timeout.  You should never use a crate negatively or for punishment.  Never drag Fido angrily into the crate and never yell at Fido or hit the crate while he is in it.  If used for punishment, your dog will be afraid of it and will refuse to go into it.  If using it for a timeout, use it to let your dog regain his composure so he can interact appropriately with you or others.  Your dog should consider his crate a happy, comfortable, and safe place.  A crate is your dog’s own quiet place to hang out.
  • Traveling safely.  A crate is one of the best ways to make sure your dog is safe while traveling in a car or a plane.  You can also keep your dog in a crate while staying in a hotel to keep him from doing any damage.

Dogs are den animals and crate training uses a dog’s natural instincts as a den animal.  Most den animals naturally prefer to sleep in enclosed spaces.  A wild dog’s den is his home.  It is a place for him to sleep, a place to seek safety from danger and a place to raise his family.  A dog crate serves the same purpose, becoming your dog’s den.  If used correctly, your dog will treat the crate as his bedroom.  It will become a safe place for him to retreat to when he wants to get away from the crazy going-ons of his humans!  It isn’t unusual for dogs to go to their crate when they need a nap or when they want to be left alone!

Dog crates

Dog crates (

Dog crates can be purchased at most pet supply stores, pet supply catalogs or online pet supply stores.  When buying a crate, you should make sure that it is just large enough for your dog to lie down in it comfortably and your dog should be able to stand up and turn around in it.  If your dog is a puppy and is still growing, choose a crate size that will accommodate him when he is an adult or full grown.  To keep your puppy from soiling the crate if it is too big for him, block off the excess crate space.  This will prevent him from eliminating at one end of the crate and then retreating to the other end.  Sometimes you can rent a crate from your local animal shelter.  This way you can trade up to the appropriate size for your puppy until he is full grown.  Once he has reached his adult size, you can buy a permanent crate.

If a crate is going to be effective, it must be used properly.  It is important to not rely on the crate too much.  Crating your dog for 8 or more hours a day while you are at work is inhumane.  Can you imagine being locked up in a box just big enough for you to stand up , turn around, and lie down in 8 or more hours each day?  You would go crazy!  So, how do you think your dog would feel in this situation?  Crates are not to be used to hold a dog for very long periods of time.  When a dog is over-crated, bad things can happen to the dog.  They can become destructive, hyperactive and anxious.  They can also develop bladder infections from having to “hold it” all day.

Never crate your dog for longer than five or six hours per day.  If you have to be away for a longer period of time there are other options for you to consider:

  • Instead of leaving your dog in a crate, pick a room in your house and “dog-proof” it.  The kitchen, bathroom or utility room would all be good options for “dog-proofing.”  Leave your dog in the “dog-proofed” room instead of the crate.
  • Instead of using a dog crate, use an exercise pen.  Put a bed in one corner of the pen and a “dog potty” in another corner.
  • Hire a dog sitter to come play with your dog during the day or hire a dog walker to walk your dog during the day.  You also might consider taking your dog to a “doggy day out” once a week or every other week.

A dog crate can be a great tool as long as it is used properly.  As stated before, don’t use it for punishment and don’t overuse it.  Not using the crate properly can lead to all kinds of behavior problems and trying to eliminate behavior problems is a big reason for using the crate in the first place.

Make sure the crate is a comfortable place for your dog to go to.  It should be kept in a place that is out of the way but where your dog can still see what is going on.  Put a bed in the crate to help make it soft and some chew toys to help keep him entertained while he is in the crate and it will be one of your dog’s favorite places to hang out.  Your dog will most likely learn to love his “room” and will seek it out when he wants some “quiet time.”

Filed under: Dog Supplies

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