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Optimize Your Dog’s Crate Experience

To crate or not to crate…that may be a question running through your head. Well, I for one, say crate. 100%. 

Bringing a new puppy or older rescue dog into your home is an exciting undertaking. One in which you will be providing leadership, boundaries, coaching and friendship to your new animal companion so starting off on the right foot through training, management and proper socialization is the key to developing a relationship that is healthy for both you and your dog. Crate training your dog is very beneficial in the beginning (and longer) stages in your relationship.

Dogs naturally gravitate to confined spaces, den-like areas, for a sense of security and comfort. Have you noticed your “goodest of bois” opting to relax underneath your couch or in the corner nook of your room when resting? A crate can provide a safe and secure area for your dog to be in, and give you a piece of mind that fiddo isn’t chewing up your grandma’s cashmere blanket.

Crates come in a few different varieties: wire, covered and industrial. Every dog varies on what crate works best for them – wire crates that come with a divider and have two different entries are good for most companion dogs who are not prone to trying to exit their crate when not appropriate. You can purchase one size for the life of your dog, use the divider portion when they are puppies to ensure they will not have accidents in too large of a space, and then slowly increase the room in their crate when they have full bladder control. If you have a high drive, working dog or a dog with anxiety issues a heavy duty crate such as Ruff Land Kennels are best. If you have a dog who does better when their crate is covered, yet tend to mouth a blanket or other covering a $70 plastic covered crate could fit your needs best. 

Inadequate management of puppies and new rescue dogs causes the majority of behavioral issues dog owners face on a day to day basis. Crate training your dog to help aid in the process of raising a well balanced canine is one that will reap rewards for a lifetime.

Do not view the crate as a punishment. Make it a good space for your dog by being consistent with it’s use after training sessions when your pup is already tired and needs a relaxing spot to absorb what was learned (memory consolidation), also work on shaping this behavior (when you aren’t going to close them in the crate) with your clicker and food as a training session, feed the rest of their meal in the crate, as well as high value rewards (kong stuffed with treats and frozen peanut butter) and definitely do not use it as a punishment after your dog did something bad. 

Imagine an 8 week old human infant..would you ever imagine coming home and putting it on the floor to have access to your whole home? Oh heck no. Yet we do this with a whole different species than us on the regular with our dogs. An excited owner gets a new 8 week old puppy who has seen nothing but the area it was raised in, or rescues a dog who has had a few different homes and unsure of its background and then allows it total freedom of their home. This is where housebreaking can take longer than it should, counters are sure to be surfed, cords to be ate and family members to be bit at…all situations that can be managed properly if you put in a little effort and consistency in your dog’s management through training, tethering and crate training. 

-Katrina Kensington, @keendog.katrina

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