Dogs are not only pack animals, they also like to have their own space or den where they can rest or sleep. You have probably noticed that your dog will find his own place to sleep in a room, usually in a corner, under a table, on a pile of clothes in the laundry room, or on a rug in the hall. The natural instinct of having a safe place to sleep remains important to a dog even though they are not subjected to the same threats as his wild ancestors.
Should you use a dog crate?
For many dog owners who are concerned about their pet being left alone in their house, especially where their dog has developed some destructive behaviour will see a crate as a place that is safe for their pet. Once in the crate, a dog cannot chew furniture, cables, or other items that could harm him. Puppies can learn that the crate is a safe place, so it can be useful when travelling to crate him. This can relieve your puppy of stress and anxiety that can be associated with new experiences. If your dog is afraid of strangers, then placing him in a crate can also help relieve you and your dog from the stressful situation.
Where should you place a dog crate?
You should always try to place the crate in a place where your puppy or dog can get some quiet time. This may be in a corner of a room or in the room where you spend most of your time. This is because your dog is a pack animal and he wants to be close to you; otherwise, you may have to deal with issues associated with separation anxiety. A crate can be used as a day bed for your pet. At night, you can cover the crate to provide him with additional security.
Choosing a dog crate
Most dog crates or dog cages are rectangular and normally constructed of wire. You also find canvas and plastic crates for smaller dogs. Puppies love to chew, so you may find a wire crate beneficial, as they are less prone to damage by their razor sharp teeth.
Wire crates come in different gauges and designs. Most are collapsible, so you need to be able to erect the crate and ensure that it is sturdy when built to prevent accidents due to crushing or entrapment. No matter your choice of crate, you will be able to get the crate in different sizes. As the crate is a box once the doors are closed, it should be of sufficient dimensions to allow the puppy or dog to lie down and stretch out without touching the sides. Your dog should also be able to sit without hitting his head off the roof of the crate. As your puppy grows, you will need to find a larger crate.
Bear in mind that the purpose of the crate is to provide a secure environment for your dog, so it should not be too big either. An overly large crate may provide space for your dog to eliminate himself, which is not desired, as you want to encourage proper bowel and bladder control. This can be assisted by ensuring that the bedding in the crate covers the entire floor area. Most puppies and dogs will not want to make a mess in their bed, but be prepared for the occasional accident. If the bedding can be washed or easily replaced, then you will find changing the bedding a straightforward process. When your puppy or dog is in the crate, you should consider covering it to help your pet settle inside. A cover can also help to remove any distractions so that your dog can settle down. A cover can also help to eliminate draughts. You should also make sure that the crate is kept out of direct sunlight, as the heat can built up quickly and harm your dog.
When to use a dog crate
A dog should become accustomed to a crate from an early age. A puppy will quickly learn to settle in a crate. If you have an older dog, it will probably take longer for him to learn to be happy when inside the crate.
A crate is useful when your puppy is going through the chewing stage, which can last until he is a year old. Some owners will not crate their dog beyond this period, as their dog will no longer want to chew things around the house. However, it is likely that the dog will still want to use the crate as a bed, but he will not have to be closed in it.
Teaching an older dog to use a crate
An older dog will take time to adjust to a crate. You should not just close your dog up and leave him to it. You should start by allowing your dog to enter and leave the crate filled with bedding and his favourite toys to entice him into it. You should praise and provide treats to him as he enters the crate and realises that the crate is a nice place to be. Before too long, your dog will enter the crate on his own to sleep. You should still leave the door open to begin with. Once your dog has been doing this for a few days, begin to close the door when the dog is sleeping, and then as soon as he wakens, praise him and let him out of the crate. Increase the period of time that your dog spends in the crate each day with the door closed. In time, your dog will do into the crate and you can close the door, and he will settle himself down while you are in the room. Only once your dog appears comfortable with this should you being leaving him in the crate alone while you go out of the house. Similarly, you should build up the time you leave him alone in the crate in the house to prevent separation anxiety setting in. Try to ensure that you crate your dog when at home as well as when you are leaving the house so that your dog is happy in his crate.
If you have small children, then make sure they do not play in the crate or annoy the dog while he is in the crate. You should try to ensure that your dog does not become protective of his crate and that you can put things into the crate or take things out of the crate without any problems. Dogs react to positive and negative actions. Therefore, do not let your dog out while he is barking or he will associate barking with being let out of the crate. Similarly, the crate should not be seen as a place of punishment as he would associate the crate as a bad place.