March 11, 2020

The dog whisperer part five: Crate training your dog?

Learn all about dog education and dog behaviour. Subject Matter Expert Brydie Charlesworth; Director DOG EDUCATION CENTRE

Is crate training a good thing to do?

By now, you’ve probably heard of crate training. We talked about it in last week’s article “A new puppy’s first night” There are lots of arguments for and against the practice. My experience shows that crate training, done correctly, positively and without any punishment attached is highly effective and secure for both the dog and the dog owner. Personally, I choose to crate my dogs for a number of reasons.

My dogs go into their crates which are located in the family garage and let out each morning.  They may also spend some time there during the day.  This will depend on our family’s workloads and our pet’s health and the outside temperature.  When its excessively hot or cold the crate becomes the ideal refuge out of the weather.

Many of our clients at the Dog Education Centre ask; Why do I do it? And there a number of common-sense reasons.

1. It reduces the likelihood of the dogs barking during the night.  Living in the country we have a variety of nocturnal wildlife roaming around the yards.  Possums are constant and there are also plenty of people, neighbours included who like to walk their dog or themselves late at night.  These coming and goings can be a source of agitation to the dogs and barking is a dog’s way of letting us know something is not right. The crate mitigates the dogs anxiety during the night time to outside noises.
2. Our garage is temperature controlled.  The dogs are warm in winter and cool in summer.
3. The area keeps them safe from snakes, in the summertime in country areas snakes can be an issue for any animal especially curious dogs.
4. My garage is located right next to my bedroom.  If there is any issue with any of the dogs, I can hear it and act straight away.
5. We love to go travelling and camping with our dogs and flat packing the crates when we travel and then popping them up at our destination allows us to take our dogs and enjoy holiday time with them.
6. Our dogs LOVE their crates.  When I leave the garage door open, I guarantee, this is where you will find them during the day.

What else can the crate be use for?
1. Toilet training.  The crate is the dog’s space.  Keeping it clean teaches the dog to keep it clean and not mess where they live.  I’ve found it to be an invaluable tool when toilet training my puppies.
2. The crate provides a sanctuary for your dog.  A nervous, overactive or anxious dog has a quiet and safe place to go for downtime.
3. When you need to separate dogs from children when not supervised; the crate is an ideal safe place.
4. The crate helps with separation anxiety.  We all have to leave the house at times and some sensitive dogs will suffer separation anxiety.  Having their own safe space is an excellent tool for this type of anxiety and the dog will feel safe and secure in his own spot.
5. The crate helps dogs cope with going to the vet.  When they need to undergo a surgical procedure, the crate is a welcome recovery space for the dog.  Familiar, safe and quiet.
6. The crate will stop dogs destroying your home or belongings.  As a safe space, their own space, they’re allot less likely to display destructive behaviours when left alone.
7. Perfect when travelling.  The crate acts like a portable kennel that can be flat packed and erected anywhere you go.  As discussed, this is ideal for us as we love to travel with our dogs.
8.  The crate prevents counter surfing.  The family dog knows its spot and when to go there.  This eliminates the behaviour of a dog wondering the home at night looking for a bed and going from one spot to another which can cause the dog stress when the family is sleeping.

What type of crate do we use?

We use wire crates mostly. For dogs with anxiety, the wire or ‘open’ type crates can often be a little scary. Most of these dogs prefer the ‘closed in’ den-like effect of the plastic and nylon crates. This can be simulated in the wire crates by placing a blanket over the top.
We have found that the material crates- whilst looking nicer- are much easier for a dog to break.

How large should the crate be?
The crate that you choose should be large enough for your dog to easily stand up, with the head in a normal elevated position. Your dog must be able to turn around and stretch out fully when lying down.
As a general guide our staffy’s, Border Collies etc use a 36-inch crate. Our GSD’s, Pointers, Rottweilers etc use a 42 inch crate. Anything smaller than a Corgi gets a 30-inch crate.

Hot tips for new puppy owners.
Your dog should spend time in the crate even when you are home.  Doing this teaches the dog that going to the crate does not always mean you’re leaving the house.
Young puppy’s need a chance to go to the toilet before being placed in their crate.  Try and ensure your puppy is tired, they’re much more likely to fall asleep.
Most puppies have a natural instinct not to toilet where they sleep or eat.  Therefore, most will try not to toilet in the crate.  When you can’t supervise your puppy, you can place them in the crate to prevent accidents.
A young puppy should not be crated for more than 3-4hours at a time without the opportunity to toilet outside. Do not make your puppy eliminate in the crate by expecting them to hold on longer than they physically can.  
Always reward outside toileting. 
Never use the crate as a form of punishment.

Thank you for loving your dog as much as I do.

Part One: Puppy Mouthing
Part Two: Does exercise fix behaviour problems?
Part Three: Is your dog misbehaving whilst your at work? 
Part Four: A new puppy’s first night



The dog whisperer part five: Crate training your dog? - Balanced Life