Why Should I Use a Crate and Is it Humane?
A dog crate is a rectangular enclosure with a top and a door, made in a variety of sizes proportioned to fit any size dog. Constructed of wire, wood, metal, or molded fiberglass/plastic, its purpose is to provide guaranteed confinement for reasons of security, safety, housebreaking, protection of household goods, travel, illness, or just general control.

So is it humane? I wouldn't want to spend hours locked up in area barely big enough to stand up and turn around in. But, I am not a dog, and neither are you. Some people think a crate is mean or cruel, it is the complete opposite, it is a "home" or a safe haven for your pet.

A dog is a den animal. When dogs were in the wild, they would often "burrow" into the ground to create a den for safety. A crate is your puppy's "den." To have it feel like a den, you need a crate that is large enough for your puppy to turn around in comfortably. Block part of the crate off if you purchase a large crate for later use.

Also, a crate is the best and easiest way to prevent most of the problems that cause many people to get rid of their dogs. You need a crate for your dog if:

  • there are housebreaking accidents
  • he destroys things when left alone
  • you have small children who don't understand that a dog needs time alone
  • if you have company who is afraid of dogs
  • if you travel with your dog
  • if you want the very best trained dog possible
  • if you want to keep them safe and happy.

The best time to introduce the crate is when you first bring the puppy home. If he is under four months old he should have no problem accepting the crate as his "home". If he is older it will not be as easy, but it can and should be done.

Close your dog in it at regular one to two hour intervals during the day (his own chosen nap times will guide you) and whenever he must be left alone for up to three or four hours. Give him a chew toy for distraction and be sure to remove collar and tags which could become caught in an opening.

If things do not go too smoothly at first, do not weaken and do not worry -- just be consistent, firm and aware that you are doing your pet a real favor by preventing him from getting into trouble while left alone. Make sure that you do not let the dog out of the crate while he is barking or he will think that barking is the key to opening the door to the crate.

Keep the crate door open when you are home and close the door when you are sleeping or out of the house or cannot watch it. If the puppy is not cooperating and does not want to enter the crate, put a few treats in it at first to entice the puppy to enter.

A dog crate, correctly and humanely used, can have many advantages for both you and your dog.

As a side note: Make it very clear to children that the crate is NOT a playhouse for them, but a "special room" for the puppy, whose rights should be recognized and respected. However, you should accustom the puppy from the start to letting YOU reach into the crate at any time, lest he become overprotective of it.

If your dog is an adult, you may choose not to continue crating, if he is trustworthy. Keep in mind that your dog will probably enjoy the continued use of the crate as it's own special place. If you decide not to keep the crate, slowly wean it off once the dog is older and you are able to trust it in your home.


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