What Does The Dog Think?
Where Is The Crate?
Can They Be Abused?
Things To Remember
Prices And Recommendations
A plastic airline approved (leakproof) crate will run from $10 to $75 depending on the size. These are the cheapest prices available. If flying with a dog, most airlines will sell a crate at near-wholesale prices. Vendors at dog shows often have good prices, especially for slightly imperfect ones. Pet stores sell them at astronomical prices. Mail order stores have competitive prices (but watch out for added shipping costs), and they sell wire mesh cages. Wire mesh is comparable in price to plastic airline crates, but the sizing is different.
Wire cages are not as appealing to dogs that like the safe, enclosed nature of a crate, but they have better ventilation for use in warm places. You might, for example, have a plastic crate in your house and a wire one for the car. Since many models fold up, they are also often easier to transport and store. More info
Proper Use Of A Crate
Crating a puppy or dog often seems unappealing to humans, but it is not cruel to the dog. A dog's crate is similar to a child's playpen, except it has a roof (dogs can jump out of a playpen) and is chewproof . Also, a crate is not suitable for activity or exercise, but rather for rest. Dogs are carnivores and do not need to be constantly active during the daytime, like people (as gatherers) do.
If a crate is properly introduced to a dog (or puppy) the dog will grow to think of the crate as its den and safe haven. Most dogs that are crated will use the open crate as a resting place.
The major use of a crate is to prevent the dog from doing something wrong and not getting corrected for it. It is useless to correct a dog for something that it has already done; the dog must be "caught in the act". If the dog is out of its crate while unsupervised, it may do something wrong and not be corrected, or worse yet, corrected after the fact. If the dog is not corrected, the dog may develop the problem behavior as a habit (dogs are creatures of habit), or learn that the it can get away with the behavior when not immediately supervised. A dog that rarely gets away with anything will not learn that if nobody is around it can get away with bad behaviors.
If the dog is corrected after the fact, it will not associate thecorrection with the behavior, and will begin to think that corrections are arbitrary, and that the owner is not to be trusted. This results in a poor relationship and a dog that does not associate corrections, which are believed arbitrary, with bad behaviors even when they are applied in time. This cannot be overemphasized: a dog's lack of trust in its owner's corrections is one of the major sources of problems between dogs and their owners. More info
Crating Do's And Don'ts
- Do think of the crate as a good thing. In time, your dog will too.
- Do let the dog out often enough so that it is never forced to soil the crate.
- Do let the dog out if it whines because it needs to eliminate. If you know it doesn't have to eliminate, correct it for whining or barking.
- Do clean out the crate regularly, especially if you've put in a floor and you have flea problems.
- Don't punish the dog if it soils the crate. It is miserable enough and probably had to.
- Don't use the crate as a punishment.
- Don't leave the dog in the crate for a long time after letting it eat and drink a lot (because the dog will be uncomfortable and may have to eliminate in the crate).
- Don't leave the dog in the crate too much. Dogs sleep and rest a lot, but not all the time. They need play time and exercise. When you are at home, they should not be in the crate (except at night when they are still very young puppies). If necessary, put a leash on your pup and tie it around your waist while you're at home.
- Don't check to see if your dog is trustworthy in the house (unsupervised, outside of the crate) by letting the dog out of the crate for a long time. Start with very short periods and work your way up to longer periods.
- Don't ever let the dog grow unaccustomed to the crate. An occasional stint even for the best behaved dog will make traveling and special situations that require crating easier.
- Don't put pillows or blankets in the crate without a good reason. Most dogs like it cooler than their human companions and prefer to stretch out on a hard, cool surface. Besides providing a place to urinate on, some dogs will simply destroy them. A rubber mat or a piece of peg-board cut to the right size might be a good compromise (be sure to clean under any floor covering frequently).
Decreasing Crate Time
Remember, your ultimate goal in using the crate is to produce an easily housetrained dog and one that can be trusted in the house. Therefore, you should consider the use of a crate for a dog to be temporary. You are always working toward the time when you do not need to use a crate extensively. More info
Does Everyone Use A Crate?
Of course not. There are many who think they are cruel and will not use them. People in Europe tend not to use them. People who have not heard of using them won't generally use them. If you have an outside yard with a fence or a secure kennel you many not need to use them.
They are extremely useful. But they are not the only means to achieve housetraining or safety in the house or car. They are, in the opinion of many, one of the best and easiest ways of doing so, with many side benefits.
©1995-96 Cindy Tittle Moore (Reprinted with Permission)