Updated: Jun 5
“I don’t want to crate my dog because it’s mean.”
“A crate is a dog prison.”
“Our dog would much rather sleep in my bed.”
These are natural thoughts people have because we’re human.
When a dog is scared or uncomfortable, where do they go? Do they run to an open space and just sit there. Nope. Oftentimes they’ll go under a couch, a chair or even in a lap. Why? Because being in a confined closed off space makes a dog feel safe. For humans we think it’s claustrophobic. For dogs it’s protection.
When initially training a dog, it might yelp or cry when you close it into the crate. But this isn’t because they don’t want to be in the crate. It’s just the puppy brain wants to be with you.
Oftentimes new dog owners hear these cries and give up on the crate. Instead, you need to eliminate the urge to be with you, so they can build the comfort in the cage. One way to do this is to cover the crate with a blanket, or to leave the room for small periods of time. The confinement and safety of the crate can actually help to reduce separation anxiety.
Second, think of the crate as the dog’s own place. We each have our own room in the house. Why shouldn’t a dog have its own room? Again for a dog, the smaller the better. So a crate works great. And for you, having a place of its own that the dog can go to creates structure in the house.
Finally, a dog that feels safety and structure builds a confident dog simply by bringing it peace of mind. Also, when dogs are in the crate, it signals a time for them to relax and calm down. By re-centering the dog, you avoid a dog that is mindfully out of control which can lead to unwanted behaviors.
Oftentimes when dogs experience raucous behavior, we mistake that to think it’s because they’re too awake. It’s the opposite. It’s they’re too tired. A well rested dog is a confident dog. In summary, a big reason to crate a dog is:
It creates structure in the house, reduces separation anxiety, and creates a more independent and confident dog.
It’s important to note the best time to crate your dog is when you are not directly supervising your furry friend, when you leave the house, and when you put your dog to bed.
If you can create structure when to put the dog in, and take them out (four to five hours for puppies, and 8 hours for adults) it will ultimately lead to a stronger and healthier relationship between you and your dog.
In conclusion, while it may be natural for humans to have reservations about crating their dogs, it is important to understand the benefits that a crate can provide for our furry companions. Contrary to our initial thoughts, a crate is not a prison for dogs, but rather a safe and secure haven that can bring them comfort and peace of mind.
During the initial stages of crate training, it is common for puppies to express their desire to be with their owners and exhibit signs of distress. However, it is crucial not to give in to these cries but instead help them build comfort and eliminate separation anxiety.
Gradually introducing the crate by covering it with a blanket or leaving the room for short periods can assist in establishing a positive association with the crate.
Moreover, the crate serves as the dog's own space, just like we have our own rooms in the house. For dogs, smaller spaces provide a sense of security, and the crate fulfills this need perfectly. By giving them a designated place of their own, we create structure within the household and promote a sense of independence.
Ultimately, crating a dog contributes to the development of a confident and well-adjusted canine companion. It offers structure, reduces separation anxiety, and helps the dog find relaxation and calmness. By providing them with a consistent routine and a space to rest, we prevent mindless and unruly behavior caused by exhaustion.
It is important to remember that crating should be implemented when direct supervision is not possible, during periods when you leave the house, and when it's time for your dog to sleep. Establishing a clear schedule for crate usage, such as four to five hours for puppies and eight hours for adults, fosters a stronger and healthier bond between you and your dog.
By understanding the true purpose of crating and its positive impact on dogs' well-being, we can overcome our initial reservations and provide them with a safe, structured, and nurturing environment that contributes to their overall happiness and development.
Devon MacDonald is the founder of Next Gen Aussies Collies and Shepherds which serves the Bay Area. Her business specializes in obedience, advance obedience, trick training, agility, leash reactivity, anxiety around people, and dog aggression. Next Gen ACS most popular program is it's board and train program which is available for both well-behaved dogs and ones with behavioral issues. Devon currently lives in Morgan Hill, California with her Mini-Australian Shepherd Cypress. Besides dogs, she has a passion for swimming, traveling and great wine.