The most important piece of
equipment you will ever buy is a dog crate. Many pet owners
misunderstand the concept of “crate-training” and dismiss the idea
of a crate as cruel or believe that the dog sees it as a punishment.
That is not the way the dog feels when the crate is properly
utilized. Those in the professional animal community view crates as
an accepted, trusted and necessary piece of equipment. They are
taken for granted by dog show exhibitors, obedience and field trial
competitors, trainers, groomers, veterinarians, and anyone else who
handles dogs regularly.
A dog crate is a rectangular
enclosure with a top, a bottom and a door. They are available in a
variety of sizes proportioned to fit any type of dog. They can be
constructed of wire, aluminum, or molded fiberglass/plastic. Its
purpose is to provide guaranteed confinement for reasons of
security, safety, house-breaking, protection of household goods,
travel, illness, or just general control. A good quality crate will
last almost indefinitely. It is escape-proof, chew resistant, easy
to clean, and should be well ventilated.
The dog is a den animal (like
a wolf or a fox) and the enclosed shelter of a dog crate will
satisfy this inherited den instinct. The crate becomes a dog’s
“safe haven” in the sometimes-bewildering world of humans. The dog
will come to accept the crate as its own private retreat. If you
travel with your pet, being able to take his “den” along will give
the dog a sense of security in a strange environment.
Your relationship with your
new puppy, or new older dog, will be more rewarding for you both if
he is prevented from causing trouble, rather than being punished for
it later. If you use the crate correctly, the dog will have no
opportunity to chew your leather shoes, the corner of the couch or
your child’s favorite toy. You will be supervising every minute the
dog is loose in the house, and/or you will be keeping the dog
tethered to you with a leash, and you will be able to immediately
stop unwanted behavior. Teach your new puppy or dog what is not his to chew or play with by immediately replacing the forbidden item
with one of his own toys.
In the wild, dogs are pack
animals. Puppies born in the wild are raised and trained by all the
adults in the pack. They are constantly being “disciplined” by
whichever adult is close at hand. Always remember that you, and the
other humans in the home, MUST be the “pack leaders”. The dog is
happier and more secure having the lowest position in the pack. A
dog will have less anxiety and be more secure if its’ life is
controlled by humans. A dog that thinks it is the pack leader can
become aggressive with strangers and possessive of its human
“pack”. This type of behavior can and should be immediately
controlled. It is never acceptable for your puppy to growl at a
family member or to bark uncontrollably at strangers.
A dog crate, correctly and
humanely used, can have many advantages for both you and your dog. With the help of a crate:
The use of a crate is highly
recommended for a dog that must be regularly left alone. It is
preferable that someone be available to take a young puppy out for
exercise at midday, but most dogs will be able to adjust to a normal
work schedule in a short period of time.
- You can enjoy complete peace of mind when leaving your dog in
the house alone, knowing that nothing can be soiled or destroyed and
that it is comfortable, protected, and not developing any bad
- You can housebreak your dog (young or old) more quickly by
using the close confinement to encourage control and to associate
elimination only with the outdoors. This will allow you to
establish a regular routine for outdoor elimination and to prevent
"accidents" at night or when left alone, since a dog will avoid
soiling its "den" if at all possible.
- You can effectively confine your dog (sparing him the
loneliness and frustration of having to be isolated in the yard,
basement or garage) at times when he might be underfoot - meals,
family activities, guests, workmen or if he’s ill.
- You can travel with your dog without risk of the driver being
dangerously distracted or the dog getting loose and lost. Your dog
can easily adapt to any strange surroundings as long as it has its
familiar “security blanket" along.
- Your dog can enjoy the privacy and security of a "den" of its
own to which it can retreat when tired, stressed or ill (and your
dog will make use of the crate of its own volition if you leave the
door open when it is older and completely house-trained). Make it a
rule, especially with children, that if the dog retreats to its
crate, it must be left alone.
- You will have a much happier, healthier relationship with
your new dog by using the crate to avoid the fear/stress/punishment
caused by problem behavior. If the puppy is correctly confined when
unattended, it will never have the opportunity to soil the carpet,
eat the drapes or chew on the furniture, thus the dog will never be
- Your puppy can be conveniently included in family outings,
visits and trips instead of being left behind alone at home or in a
- The dog that is accustomed to a crate will adjust more
readily to confinement at a veterinary hospital, grooming salon or
boarding kennel when that is necessary.
Always use the crate for
general confinement and house training. NEVER use the crate as a
punishment. The crate should be the dog’s safe haven, not a dreaded
*The specialty crates
pictured above can be
found at: www.dogbedworks.com