- Dogs are naturally den animals. When a dog is looking for a place to snooze, you will find that he rarely chooses a place out in the open. He will usually choose a place where he feels sheltered, next to a tree or a wall in your house, under some sort of awning, in a corner, etcetera. This is an innate survival instinct. If he chooses to sleep in the open, he is exposing himself to potential danger including predators and/or the elements (cold, heat, rain, wind, etc). A crate mimics the shelter or den a dog would choose to sleep in. If the crate is introduced to a dog as a positive safe place to be (NOT associated with being in trouble) you might find that the crate becomes your dog’s choice location for a nap.
- Crate training goes “paw in paw” with potty training. Dogs naturally do not want to potty where they sleep. Just like humans they enjoy having a clean bed to sleep in. The crate should be just big enough so the dog can stand up and turn around 360 degrees comfortably. If the dog is let out frequently enough for its age and crated after each potty break it will quickly learn that outside is the place to potty. The concept of not going potty in the crate will eventually translate to not going potty in the house. A good reason to start potty training with a crate is because the crate is just big enough to sleep in, but not big enough defecate in and sleep comfortably in. Your house, on the other paw, is big enough, in the dog’s mind, to have a designated potty area and a designated sleep area. In other words the dog can potty in one room or area of the house and still sleep comfortably in another part of the house.
- Crate training prevents coming home to destroyed property (house, your favorite pair of shoes, that nice, expensive, new couch you just purchased for your new home, etc). Most dog owners have a common story that they tell about leaving that first dog home alone: ” I came home and my dog had chewed my favorite pair of shoes,” or “My brand new couch has been shredded,” or my favorite story from my parents and their first dog out of college, “We came home and Sandy had chewed a hole in our garage door.” Crates are wonderful safe places to leave your dog when you need to leave your house to run errands or go to work, but you cannot trust the dog unattended in your home. After properly introducing your dog to the crate, it will be happy to be left in the crate with its favorite toy or chew while you run to the store to get your groceries. And you will be happy when you come home and all of your property is still in tact. Keep in mind the amount of time a dog can be left in a crate at one time will vary depending on the dog’s age, health, and physical abilities. Talk to your local dog trainer or veterinarian about appropriate amounts of time to leave your dog in a crate.
- Crate training gives landlords peace of mind. I have never owned a home, but I own 2 dogs and usually have a third dog in my home for training and/or fostering purposes. Thus, I have rented for most of my adult life. Landlords are usually hesitant to rent to people with pets and the reasons why are understandable. They all have the stories of the people with pets they rented to and the house is destroyed when the tenants move out. Being a dog owner and a renter for nearly 8 years now, I have managed to find ways to convince on-the-fence landlords to rent to me with dogs. One of the biggest factors that impacted the landlord’s decision is the fact that both of my dogs are crate trained and the occasional third dog receives crate training upon immediate arrival in my home if it is not already crate trained. The landlord’s know that when my dogs are left unattended they will be left in crates, so they cannot destroy the house or potty in the house. Due to the use of crate training I have never had a landlord complain about damage done to their property by a dog. With that being said, if you use “crate training” to convince a land lord to let you rent with a dog, PLEASE follow through with the crate training!
- Crate training makes travel with your dogs safe and easy! The safest place for your dog to travel is in a crate in the car. I personally prefer the plastic crates for in the car. The wire crates can collapse in a car accident, but the plastic crates roll and do not collapse. Crates give your dog its own space in the car and protects it from objects that may shift during travel. It also keeps the dog contained in one place so it cannot distract the driver. Just like they can prevent damage in your home, they also prevent damage in your car. I recently traveled to Utah from California with my husband and 3 dogs. All 3 dogs rode in crates. Each dog had its own crate. Plus, we were able to pack the rest of our stuff in the car around the crates and not worry about the dogs getting squished by our stuff or the dogs sneaking a bite of our road-trip snacks.
- Crates are great for teaching your dog to settle. How many people do you know with dogs that end up throwing their dogs outside or in another room because the dog is too wild, or is being a nuisance to house guests, or is begging at the dinner table? Dogs often exhibit these behaviors due to lack of guidance, boredom, and/or the behavior has worked for them in the past. Dogs are social animals and want to be a part of the family and the activities the family partakes in. Of course, the family activities cannot always cater to or center around the dog. Sometimes the dog needs to just be able to be present in the background. This is where settling comes into play. The dog needs to be given a place to be during family dinner. That place can be a bed on the floor in the corner of the room or the crate in the corner of the room. Chances are that the first several times you send your dog to its bed to settle it will get up multiple times without permission. We do not always have the time or patience to correct this behavior by sending the dog back to the bed. Crates provide a great alternative. The dog cannot get up and go pester people for attention. It is confined by the crate, but can still enjoy the company of its family and feel involved in the family activities. The dog eventually learns that its job during dinner time is to wait quietly and patiently in the crate.
- Crates work wonders when it comes to managing multiple dog households. Dogs are social animals, but when managing a multiple dog household I do not feel comfortable leaving 2 dogs alone together. A common saying is that 2 dogs will do what one dog alone would not do. Personally, I prefer not to find out what trouble my dogs would get into together while I am away, but I do know that they enjoy each other’s company. Usually when I leave the house I will leave the dogs in crates next to each other. They can enjoy each other’s company without getting into trouble. Additionally, crates have greatly simplified the process of introducing a new dog to the household. When a new dog comes into my household my dogs are in crates while I walk the new dog in on leash. When the new dog has adjusted to its surroundings I will crate it and let my dogs out of the crates. This allows the dogs to smell and see each other without being forced to interact. Watching the behaviors of all dogs during this process allows me to assess whether the dogs are going to get along or not while keeping all dogs safe. After anywhere from a couple of hours to a week (time will vary depending on the dogs’ temperaments) I can determine if it is safe to let the dogs interact. If I determine that it is not safe to let the dogs interact, I continue with the “crate and rotate” management strategy.
Now that you have read through these seven benefits, you might be thinking, “I wish I would have crate trained my dog.” Well not to worry! Next week I will be posting on how to crate train your dog! Stay tuned!