Crate training is a very important for the safety, health, and comfort of your dog. Dogs who are properly introduced to their crates, love their crates and happily go in them to sleep or rest.
The reason most people resist crate training their dog is because they believe keeping a dog in a crate is cruel. This is a MYTH and could not be further from the truth. This myth has been actively spread by organizations with the stated goal of ending pet ownership. These organization have gone as far as attempting to make crates illegal. They push this myth because they know that without crates, many owners will not be able to successfully potty train their dog, keep their dogs safe, or prevent property damage when the dog is unattended. The result will be that many more dogs are given up and people will be much less likely to want to have a dog.
Many people are also unaware the dogs need between 16 to 20hrs of rest a day, and are therefore perfectly happy to take their naps in a den. This does not mean you leave your dog in a crate all day and ignore her. Not at all. A crate is merely a part of a dog’s daily routine between play, walks, and family time.
The truth is that crates, properly used and introduced, serve very important purposes. Here are some of them:
Crate training is an essential part of raising a puppy and potty training. Dogs are den animals. As puppies, they learn that they have a den or nest where they stay with their mother. They learn to leave the nest to potty and keep their nest clean. When you bring your puppy home, giving them a crate to treat as their “nest” is essential to continue teaching them the correct place to potty is outside and not in the home.
Also, dogs want to have a “safe” place. The crate simulates a den environment that they can retreat to rest in peace. This is especially important for dogs that become stressed and need a place to go to feel safe or in very active homes with children. A properly crate trained dog will know to go its crate when it needs a break from too much activity or noise. Children can be taught to respect the dog’s safe space and give the dog a break if it needs one.
Dogs that have been properly crate trained are also much less likely to suffer from separation anxiety. Properly crate trained dogs are comfortable retreating into their crates and being alone. Training puppies to go into their crates to enjoy a frozen kong every time you go out teaches them early to be happy and content when home alone.
Safety when Unattended
Many dogs can get into a lot of trouble when left unattended. They may eat things they shouldn’t eat and get into things that could be dangerous. Puppies and young dogs especially are very likely to get into something they shouldn’t and ingest something dangerous. This could result in poisoning or blockages that at best end in a very expensive vet bill and at worse can cost them their lives.
In multi-dog households, especially with dogs of different sizes, it is much safer to leave smaller dogs in a crate and not loose with the larger dogs. Even dogs that have gotten along for years may one day have an altercation when home alone. Unfortunately it is not uncommon for the smaller dog to be severely injured or killed.
Teaching your dog to go into a crate in the car is by far the safest way to travel with your dog. Dogs that are used to traveling in crates quickly learn to load up and relax for the ride.
Loose dogs can seriously distract the driver and cause accidents. At our training facility, one client was distracted by his loose dog in the car and drove his car through the front of the building and into the reception desk and only by pure good fortune was nobody hurt. This is not an isolated incident. In addition to causing an accident from distracting the driver, dogs loose in the car are at extreme risk in the event of an accident. When an accident happens and a dog is loose in the car, if the dog is not killed or seriously injured during the accident, then they are very often killed by oncoming traffic when they run from the car, terrified.
There are crash tested crates that can protect you and your dog from injury when traveling in the car. Ruffland kennels, Variocage, and Gunnar kennels are all crash tested options. Wire kennels and cheap plastic kennels, while better than nothing and will keep your dog from distracting you while driving, are not so safe in the event of a crash. The wire kennels can break apart and the wires turn into dangerous spikes, while the cheap plastics also crack and split with impact.
While crate training is more critical for some dogs and situations than others, teaching your dog to happily go in and out of a crate is always a good idea! For more information on crate training, go to “how to crate train my puppy”.