What to Know If You’re Considering Using a Dog Crate
If you’re one of the over 45,000,000 households with a dog, you know the struggle of not being able to stay home with your pet 24/7. You’ve probably started looking at a large dog crate of some kind to keep your pup in while you’re away. For older, more mellow dogs, a large dog crate might not be necessary, but for rambunctious puppies and younger dogs who are more prone to get into mischief, a crate is a smart idea. A crate can also be used for training and to teach your dog what acceptable and unacceptable behavior looks like. However, there are things that you should keep in mind when using a crate, as it can easily start seeming like a punishment to your dog, when used the wrong way. That negative connotation can make getting out the door much more difficult than if you use your dog crates correctly.
When Using a Crate Can Be Helpful
Some dogs may wind up seeing their crate as a private space that they can hang out in. Leave the crate open so your dog can retreat if he or she wants to. This also creates a positive relationship in your dog’s mind with the crate.
A crate can be helpful if you have small children and a rowdy puppy, and are worried about them being alone together. Even if the dog is very gentle, children sometimes don’t realize what aggravates an animal, and their rough play can lead to a nip or scratch from the dog, who is simply trying to protect himself. Keeping your dog in a crate for brief periods of time when your hands are full can give both the children and the dog some much needed time away from each other!
Of course, using it to help house train and manage any unruly behavior can also help. If you are crating your dog for a misdemeanor, simply wait until the dog has settled down, and then let them out. You don’t want them to perceive it as a punishment, just a “timeout.”
You may also consider using your crate to transport your dog, if you need to go to the vet or are going on a trip where you’re planning on bringing your dog around. This will keep them from jostling around too much and give them a familiar environment.
What to Keep In Mind When Using a Crate
Don’t keep your dog locked in the crate for too long without a break. The suggested amount of time that a dog be enclosed is five to six hours. If you have a rescue dog, be aware that some may have separation anxiety or are afraid of crates, due to past treatment, so it’s not advised that you use a crate with them.
If you must crate your dog for long hours while you’re at work, make sure that they get plenty of attention and exercise before and after you leave the house. Taking them to the dog park to play on dog park equipment or letting them run through a canine obstacle course with you can be a great way for them to burn off some steam and exercise their muscles. Just don’t forget to bring the dog poop bag!
Make sure your dog is let out to go to the bathroom as soon as you get home and that he or she goes in the crate with an empty bladder.
You should also make sure to get a large dog crate, to ensure that your dog has plenty of room to move around and stretch out comfortably. (However, if you have a very small dog, you wouldn’t want a crate that’s meant for a Saint Bernard. Size accordingly.)
You always want to slowly introduce your dog to being crated, if they haven’t done it before. Even a large dog crate can feel oppressive if your dog isn’t used to it. Let them get used to it by feeding them meals in the crate and putting them in for only short periods of time. Gradually, you can work up to longer periods in the crate, and your dog will eventually form a habit.