A Crate Could Be Your Dog's Best Friend

>> 6/9/09

Let's talk crates and dogs. But before we do, let's clarify that the kinds of crates we'll be discussing aren't what some of you may be visualizing. These aren't wooden freight delivery crates full of mysterious artifacts from an Egyptian temple. Crating dogs is a general term for keeping your dog in a cage (called a crate) for the purposes of potty training and to provide it with a secure "home" it can call its own.

When my sister came over to my house to meet my new puppy for the first time, she was shocked to see we had a crate for our dog. I wasn't surprised by her reaction when she first saw the crate. In fact, I expected it. Truth be told, many people feel the same way. I, myself, used to think that keeping a dog in a crate was down-right cruel until I learned that crate training can be a wonderful tool when it comes to caring for and even protecting your pup and something it will actually come to love.

Yes, I agree, crates don't look very appealing. I, for one, wouldn't want to be kept in a crate. Then again, I'm not a dog. The truth is, most dogs actually LIKE their crates. Dogs are similar to wolves. Both enjoy a cozy den-like atmosphere and that is exactly what a crate becomes to your four-legged friend.

Eventually, if used correctly, your pup will learn to love his crate! My dog, who now happens to be ten years old, still goes into her crate to nap or escape from things like thunderstorms. I leave the door of the crate open and she is free to come and go as she wishes. You see, her crate has become her sanctuary. It is her special place to rest or take a break from the other animals of the house when she is not in the mood to play.

While we're certainly pleased our pup has a sanctuary she can call her own, the real point behind crates is to benefit the owner. Not only do they provide us a safe and secure place to keep our pets when strangers such as repair men come to visit, they can be a perfect way to potty train your pooch.

It can't be stressed enough, however, that you must use your crate properly or you will completely defeat its purpose and risk emotional damage to your dog. First and foremost, don't leave your puppy in its crate for longer than five hours and only that if it's unavoidable (because of your job, for example). While the premise behind the crate is to play on your dog's instinct not to eliminate where it sleeps, even the strongest instinct can't win out against a young dog's bladder.

You must also never use your crate as a means of punishment. This isn't your dog's timeout-for-bad-behavior corner. You want your pup to think of its crate as a cozy, safe sanctuary, not someplace it desperately wants to avoid. Using it for punishment will only make your dog fear or resist being crated. Make the crate someplace it wants to go when it's time for a break. Keeping a favorite chew toy or one of your old socks (the scent will comfort him since it smells like his favorite person) in the crate will contribute to the crate being a sanctuary.

Choosing a crate for your dog is less about style than it is about size. You're shooting for something large enough to allow your dog to sleep comfortably and turn around in. But bigger isn't better. Too large of a crate will defeat potty training purposes and your dog may eliminate in one corner while sleeping in another. If you purchase a larger crate because your dog is still growing, use a divider to make it small enough to accommodate your dog and your potty-training objective.

Wire crates are probably your best bet. They allow better air flow and better viewing for your pup. At night, you can cover the wire crate with a blanket so that you form a den like atmosphere (your dog will like this!).

Overall, crates, when used correctly, are wonderful training tools. If you really don't like the idea of a crate, then a puppy play pen might be more your speed. No matter which you choose, it is important to keep your puppy safe from potentially dangerous situations.

A Crate Could Be Your Dog's Best Friend by Olivia Samsoen

About the Author:

You can find more pet care information at www.bunnyroobeagle.com. The site is full of fun pet-related ideas, recipes and tons of information on dog health.

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