Crate ExpectationsAdvice on the process and benefits of crate training dogs both young and old
It’s a relatively new concept, but crate training can be a highly effective tool for training both adult dogs and puppies. Yes, it might be time-consuming initially, but it’s a great way of teaching boundaries, keeping your dog safe, encouraging them to feel comfortable when travelling in a confined space and even making them more independent and therefore less noisy and destructive when they’re left alone.
Crates (or puppy dens as we like to call them) are also invaluable when it comes to toilet training your dog, no matter what its age – but there are a few key things to remember. Firstly, make sure you take your dog or puppy outdoors to toilet on a regular schedule and especially before leaving him alone for a prolonged period of time. Also, always take your puppy outside on a leash to the same area in your backyard to toilet and introduce a command (like ‘wee wees’), so you can praise him when he’s finished. This also means he’s learning a new word to encourage him to do what you want him to do – hopefully taking some of the guesswork out of his visits to the backyard.
Getting your puppy used to the crate can be one of the trickiest parts of the whole process, and it needs to be done carefully. It is essential that puppies regard the crate as their base in the house. Place the crate in a quiet corner of a room which is well used by the family, lay bedding on the floor (which covers the whole bottom of the crate), and put in some toys to keep them entertained – come in and have a chat with us if you’re unsure about what kinds of toys are suitable.
Start off by throwing titbits of food into the crate, letting the puppy go in and retrieve them in his own time. He will begin to get accustomed to it, and at first, you should give him a small treat each time he goes in. Your puppy may be fed in there and should have a secured water bowl, though we recommend this is removed overnight.
As the puppy becomes older, he can be given more freedom and the door of the crate can be left open so he can use it as a refuge for sleep or to escape from persistent children or other pets. He need then only be locked in at night and when you go out (starting with very short periods, maybe just ten minutes), until you feel confident that all lessons have been learned.
Once your puppy has become used to the crate, it can be used to transport him safely in your car. There may also be a time after injury or veterinary treatment that he will need to be confined for recuperation and because he was crate trained, he will find this much easier.
You’re sure to find it won’t be long before the crate becomes the second best friend for both you and your pooch. If you need more advice we offer one-to-one puppy consultations at Scampers where you can ask any questions and get helpful guidance, free of charge.
Crate Training Dos & Don’ts
DO: Always take your dog into the garden after eating, when he has just woken up and after a play period before he goes back into his crate.
DON’T: Regard the crate as a way to leave your pup alone for long periods of time.
DO: Select the right sized crate for your dog. There should be enough room for the puppy to stand up without his head touching the top and to stretch and turn; but equally, don’t get a crate which is too big, as he will likely use one corner for sleeping and the rest as a toileting area.
DON’T: Use the crate as a punishment sin bin. It must always be a secure, safe area for your puppy to enjoy.
DO: Always remember to ensure your puppy or dog is well exercised and all ‘nature breaks’ have been taken before putting him into the crate, and only put him in when he is in a calm state.
DON’T: Punish your dog if he has an unfortunate ‘accident’ in the crate or on the floor overnight.
Pop in store to view our range of doggy dens and please don't hesitate to ask one of our team to assist you, if you would like one taken out to your car to see if it fits.
Scampers Natural Pet Store is located on the A142 Soham By Pass, between Ely and Newmarket and only 15 miles from Cambridge.
Scampers, Your Pet’s Natural Choice.
Copy reproduced courtesy of Nicola Foley / Cambridge Edition magazine.