Should You Crate or Not Crate Your Dog?

By Tom •  Updated: 04/02/21 •  11 min read
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A lot of dog owners debate whether they should crate train their dog. There are some pet owners that say it is helpful for a sense of security and being calm, while there are others that believe the confinement of a crate or kennel is cruel. There are mixed opinions and we would say that it depends on how you use the crate whether it is good for your pup or not.

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So, should you crate your dog? Let’s take a look at the benefits of crate training your dog and some negative aspects you should avoid.

What is a Crate?

There is often confusion by what exactly is meant by the word crate. Essentially, this is a cage that your pup will use to rest and calm down in. It can be made from plastic, material or wire. It is often recommended that pet owners choose a wire cage so that it is durable and the most secure.

It is important that you choose a crate that is the appropriate size for your pup. This makes sure they have enough room to stand up and move around to get comfortable. Of course, it does not have to be like a run with lots of space. But there has to be enough that they can feel comfortable and not restricted. Make sure you spend some time finding the right size to enjoy success with the crate and ensure the happiness of your pooch.

The Benefits of Crate Training

There are a lot of good things about crate training. It is important to take a look at them and see if this is something that can help your furry friend. So, let’s get started.

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Helps with House Training Puppies

First of all, let’s start with house training a puppy. This can be a hard and frustrating thing to do. If you are new to owning a dog, you may not know where to begin. The last thing you want is dirty carpets after accidents.

The good thing about the crate is that it can speed up the process of house breaking. Dogs have a natural den instinct. This is a place where they eat and sleep. They know that this is not where they relieve themselves and they do not want to get it dirty. The idea is to make the crate just like their den. They can learn to go in there and not use it as a toilet. When you let them out, take them straight outside to relieve themselves. This can help them learn and understand better that they should go outside in the correct place.

A lot of owners have found success with house breaking using this method.

It is a Safe Den

Let’s not forget that dogs are descendants of wolves. They have natural instincts and it is important to satisfy them. For example, dogs are natural den animals. They want to have a place where they can hide, feel safe and sleep without any dangers. Does your dog sleep up blankets or under the duvet? This is an example of a dog trying to create a den that they feel comfortable in.

A crate can be exactly like a den for dogs. The crate becomes their resting place. A safe and comfortable place that is their own private area. They can feel relaxed there and enjoy a good snooze. If you use a crate from a young age through positive reinforcement, it can be a place that your furry friend loves to go. They do not associate it with bad things or being locked up for hours.

Keeps Dogs Out of Trouble

If you have to go out, a crate is a safe place your dog can go. If you think your pup might get up to mischief while you are away, this is a good place for them to go to avoid this from happening. It is secure and you can put their bed in so that they can have a nap. Let’s not forget that if your dog eats something while you are away, they can end up at the vet. For example, a lot of owners say their dogs eat anything from socks and shoes to items around the home when they are out. This can become dangerous. A crate ensures this does not happen. Instead, you can put a snack in their crate to keep them occupied when you are away. For example, a stuffed Kong toy or carrot.

It is a Timeout Zone

When dogs get hype and overexciting accidents can happen. The good thing about the crate is that it can act like a safe, timeout zone. You can use the cage as somewhere to go to calm down and bring their energy levels back down. When your dog is overexcited, you do not have to punish them. Instead, they can lay down in their cage.

Safe When You are Traveling

When you are traveling in the car, it is essential that your dog is secure. They can become a distraction and this can cause an accident. In addition, if you crash, they have to be secured so that they do not injure themselves or other passengers in the car. This is where the crate comes in. If you have a crate in the trunk and they trained to go in there, they can be in a safe and secure place when you are traveling.

Things to Consider with a Crate

We have gone over the benefits of crate training your dog. But there are some things to consider. The crate is not a magical cure for behavioral issues and it should never be used in a negative way towards your pup. Let’s take a closer look.

Take Training Slow

To begin with, there are going to be some dogs that do not like the crate to begin with. This is going to require your patience and some time. They may start to whine and cry, as well as bark to get you to let them out. Nobody likes to hear their dog do this. But it is important to be consistent and not give in to their behavior. Otherwise, they will learn to carry on this behavior since they get what they want. Wait until they are silent before you let them out. Start by leaving them in the crate for small periods of time and working up to longer time.

Know Your Dog’s Limits

Always pay attention to your dog’s body language towards the crate. If they seem petrified of the crate, do not force them to go inside. This is going to make them unhappy and create negative associations with the crate. You will know your dog is scared if they have a low tail, pinned back ears and they make be stiff or trembling. It can just mean that some further crate training is necessary. Again, take it slow and ease them into the crate over a longer period of time. They have to learn that this is not a scary place.

Do Not Abuse Crate Time

One of the main reasons that some pet owners are against crates is that they are somewhere to put your dog to get them out of the way. Of course, this should never be the purpose of crating your pooch. A crate is a great place for training and making your dog feel safe. It is never something that should be abused by owners to get some downtime. A canine friend is a big responsibility and they require your time, attention and love. Always remember that companionship is important for your pup’s well-being. This is in addition to mental stimulation and exercise.

A dog should never be crated through anger. Your pooch may not speak English, but they will sense this negative energy and become scared of you and the crate. They will begin to realize that the crate means they have done something bad and it is a punishment. Therefore, they will not feel happy in the crate. Five hours should be the maximum time that a dog is crated for. This should not be a regular occurrence. If you are out at work all day, ask a friend or hire a dog walker to come and attend to your dog’s needs while you are away from home. Keeping a dog crated for long periods of time denies them the space they need to roam, as well as not allowing them to relieve themselves. It can also create feelings of loneliness and depression.

A dog that suffers from separation anxiety will not cope well with a crate.

This can heighten their sense of anxiety and they may go to extreme measures to try to get out of the crate. They can injure themselves, including broken teeth and paw injuries.

Avoid Crating During the Summer

Avoid crating your dog during the summer when it is hot outside. Our furry friends can easily overheat and find it hard to cool down. If they are confined to a crate, they are not able to find a cold spot where they are comfortable to stretch out. Crating your pup can become dangerous when there are high temperatures.

Again, if you are going to be out, get somebody to come in and take care of your pooch. This could be to go for a walk or just to let them out in the yard. They need fresh air to keep them cool, as well as access to fresh water when it is hot outside in the summer.

Should I Crate My Dog?

In conclusion, we would say that it is a good idea to crate train your dog. While you may not use it all the time, it is good training to have for events that may occur. There are a lot of benefits for your pup. For example, we like that it complements their natural den instinct. It gives them their own space and they can retreat to this spot during the day if things get hectic. Through positive training when they are young, they can enjoy time in the crate by themselves.

Of course, if you have a puppy, you want to have them house trained as soon as possible. The crate may be a way of doing this. It is not a magical cure but it may help to speed the process along. In particular, if you are a new dog owner and have never had a puppy before, this is a good way to start. It can also be used as a timeout zone when your dog becomes hyper and you need them to calm down. It can keep them out of trouble when you are out of the house too. Even when you are traveling in the car, you can know your dog is secure in their crate. As long as you make their crate comfortable with their favorite bed and blanket, they will be happy to go in for a snooze.

But you have to make sure you use the crate in the right way. Otherwise, there will be negative associations with the crate and your furry friend will not like to go in there. Always make sure you take crate training slow and know when your dog is uncomfortable. Through positive reinforcement, you can make sure your pup overcomes their fears and learns this is a good place. Always pay attention to their body language. Make sure that you do not misuse the crate and use it as a punishment. This should never be the purpose of a crate. Never leave them crated for more than five hours and this should not be a regular occurrence. In addition, avoid using the crate in the summer when it is hot.

Of course, the decision whether to crate train your dog is entirely yours. Hopefully, we have provided you with the information you need to make your decision. One thing to remember is to use the crate wisely!

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Tom

Tom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!

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