Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Crate Expectations: Why Crate Training Works

Here's Vinson, voluntarily sleeping in his crate as I write this
You'll hear all sorts of opinions on crate training, ranging from, "I'll never put my dog in a cage", to "Crating is the best thing for you and your dog". There is enough information on the topic of crate training online that I'll skip the detailed arguments on either side; but for us, and for Vinson, the crate works.

Why? Especially with an “active” pup (Is describing Vinson as “active” akin to a realtor describing a cramped apartment as “cozy”?) like Vinson, the crate is the only 100% peace of mind you can have when leaving him unsupervised for a bit – the only guarantee (although there are stories of mischievous dogs who’ve mastered the art of crate escapes) that he will be contained and only have access to the toys we’ve given.

Vinson sleeps in his crate every night, rides in one in the car and has one in the office. He often naps in the crates with the door open, simply because he likes the contained, cozy feeling.

As I've mentioned before, if you decide to crate train your puppy, here are some simple tips:

  1. Never use the crate as punishment. Always make the crate experience positive. Try using small treats, ice chips, a special toy and praise to show your pup that entering and being in the crate is a good thing.
  2. Always remove the dog collar before crating to prevent any tangling or choking mishaps.
  3. Only leave safe toys in the crate – one’s that you’re positive can’t be ripped open or swallowed.
  4. Start small. Try crating your pup for just a few minutes at a time, gradually increasing the time as training progresses. Be at home the first many times in the crate so you have an idea of how the dog is behaving. Then, try a few short trips and build from there.
  5. Start young if possible. Most dogs can be crate trained, but it’s generally considered to be easiest if you start in the first puppy months.
  6. Never leave your dog crated and unattended for more than three hours. If your pal gets to the point where he really needs to go out and he is forced to sit in the crate, he may form a negative association and resist crating in the future.

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