Use a dog crate – When should you use a Dog Crate?
A crate can be a handy tool in the education of a dog. However, it must be used correctly and taught positively; otherwise, problems will arise. The dog should see the crate as a friendly, safe resting place. The goal is to train the dog so that the crate can eventually remain open and that he likes to be in the crate. Excessive use of a crate to lock in a dog can lead to anxiety, stress, and boredom, and has a negative effect on his well-being.
Why a Dog Crate?
A crate is a small residence that can be closed. A crate can be used temporarily for puppies, for example, during toilet training or to ensure that a puppy does not learn unwanted behavior if you cannot pay attention to him.
A crate can also be used as a temporary measure in adult dogs, such as dogs that are over-stimulated or dogs that show aggression, for example, during a visit. In addition to using the crate, training or behavioral therapy will then have to be given so that the unwanted behavior is replaced by other, desired behavior and preventive confinement in the crate is no longer necessary.
Also, a crate may sometimes be necessary to ensure that a dog takes a rest after, for example, an injury or surgery. In such a case, it is beneficial if the dog is already used to a crate. An open crate can continue to serve as a sleeping or resting place, provided that the dog finds the crate a pleasant place.
It is sometimes stated that the dog (as a descendant of the wolf) would be a cave animal and that the crate is, therefore, a natural replacement for such a cave in which he naturally feels comfortable. However, this is not correct. While wolves use a cave to get their puppies in and keep them safe there when they are very young, such a cave is not closed off: the youngsters can walk in and out freely and use the den as a base.
After about ten weeks, they no longer stay in the cave but are in groups in the open air during the day. Wolves prefer to find a clearing where they can enjoy a good view of the surroundings. In bad weather, they seek shelter under, for example, trees. So sitting in a closed space, such as in a closed crate, is not a ‘natural situation!
Below some different types of Dog Crates, we selected some of our favorites:
Different Dog Crate models
There are several types of dog crates:
- Wire cage made of metal.
- Plastic (transport) kennel, which has mostly closed walls with air holes and with a wire metal door at the front (also used for transportation by plane)
- Crash approved travel kennel with thick metal bars (intended for transport in the car)
- Travel kennels made of fabric (for example for vacation)
- Crates for home use, the first two are most commonly used.
With a wire cage model, it is essential that the crate is sturdy and that the bars are not too far apart so that the dog cannot insert body parts and get stuck. A grating distance of 2.5 to 7.5 cm is best; for small dogs, choose the shortest grating distance.
Below some different types of Dog Crates, we selected some of our favorites:
Dog Crate Format and Dimensions
The size of a living room crate should be such that an adult dog can stand and sit upright in it, lie comfortably in it (both stretched and rolled up), and turn around properly.
If a crate is used during potty training for a puppy, an adult crate is too large. The puppy can then divide the crate into a section for sleeping and a section for doing its needs. To prevent this, you can temporarily place a shot in the crate to reduce the space.
You can also first buy a smaller crate, possibly second-hand, or perhaps you can borrow a crate while your puppy is still little. Ensure that your puppy always has enough space during growth.
In a crate that is only intended for car transport, lying down is often tricky. During car transport, even it is a very temporary stay, a larger space is less safe because the dog can then be thrown through the crate. The dog should be able to sit and lie in the crate and turn around. During longer car rides, let the dog stretch his legs regularly.
Where to Place the Dog Crate
As dogs are social animals and want to be with their group, ensure you put the crate in a part of the house where you are much: not in a garage or utility room, but for example, in a quiet place of the living room or kitchen. If a dog already has a favorite sleeping place, you can put the crate there. Do not place the crate in direct sunlight or close to the heating or next to sound equipment and not in a draft.
With a wire cage model, it is helpful if the crate is placed along a wall or in a corner so that the dog has shelter. Some dogs like it if there is also something on the top, such as a blanket. Make sure you have enough fresh air.
Dog Crate Design
The crate should be a nice, safe resting place for the dog. Place a comfortable surface in it, such as a rug or pillow or possibly a sturdy rubber mat. Preferably choose a material that can be cleaned, for example, take a cushion from which you can remove the cover.
Make sure that your dog has fresh drinking water at his disposal in the crate. It is preferable not to put any food in the crate (except possibly under supervision during teaching) because then the bedding can quickly get dirty. Usually, a dog should not stay in the crate for so long that it is ready for the next meal.
Should it occasionally be necessary for the dog to stay longer in the crate, make sure that food is also present? Put water and preferably in heavy stone containers or in containers that you can attach to the crate so that they are not knocked over.
It is better in such a case to put the crate in a (puppy) run or a dog-safe room with the door open so that the dog has more space to stretch his legs. You can also put a drinking bowl and some food there.
Give the dog some safe toys so that he has something to do.
One animal at a time in a Dog Crate
A crate is used to deploy one animal at a time. Two animals in the crate together could argue. Since they cannot avoid each other, fights can then arise.
Never just put a dog in the crate with the door closed. The crate should first be introduced as a safe place. You have to do this step by step, both with a puppy and with an adult dog. In doing so, slowly expand the time the dog spends in the crate.
Meet the Crate!
First, open the crate in the room and put a nice cloth and a favorite toy in it. Let the dog decide if he wants to enter the crate to explore. You can stimulate that by throwing in a piece of food or a toy that the dog can then fetch. In the beginning, you can also put the dog’s food bowl in the crate.
When a dog does not dare, you can first sprinkle food next to and in front of the crate. The next step is to place them just in the doorway of the crate, and then further back. You can also do that with the food bowl.
Reward the dog with your voice when the dog enters the crate and give a command with a friendly voice (such as ‘place’) so that the dog will link that to entering the crate. Do not force the dog to stay in the crate if it wants to walk out again.
If a puppy falls asleep somewhere else, you can pick it up quietly and put it in the crate.
For crate training, choose a time when the dog has walked, trained, or played, paid attention, and met his needs, so chances are he is ready to lie down.
Only when the dog quickly enters the crate by itself can you close the door for a moment. Give the dog a treat through the bars and then open the door again. If that goes well, you can leave the door closed a little longer. Stay tuned. Give the dog something to chew up or a food toy that it takes a bit longer.
During the build-up of the duration of the crate stay, alternate the slightly more extended periods with an occasional short period in between. Open the crate again and again before the dog finds it annoying and starts to squeak, bark or scratch. Only when the dog lies down in the crate and feels comfortable there, you can leave the room for a moment.
If your dog starts to bark or squeak in the crate, it often means that you left him in it longer than he can handle. You must avoid this behavior. If the dog has started barking, don’t let him out right away. He would then learn that barking is an excellent way to get out of a crate. Wait a while until he is quiet, then let him out.
If it lasts for a long time or seems to panic, distract him by, for example, making a sound that attracts his attention (but does not startle him; think of a squeaky toy, for example). When he stops barking for a moment, open the door. You should not leave a dog or puppy that is panicking in the crate. Next time, take a few steps back to practice and build it up even more quietly.
Prevent the dog from feeling negative about the crate. If you have to leave longer than the dog has learned, do not put it in the crate, but arrange a babysitter or possibly put the dog in a dog-safe small room.
A transport rate for the car should also be an excellent place for the dog. Learn that just like a living room scale: step by step, first at home, then in the car.
How long and when in the Dog Crate?
Once the dog has started to see the crate as a pleasant place to lie down, you can use it when you cannot keep an eye on the dog. The crate can also be used to put the dog to sleep if you do not dare to let it loose in the room at night.
However, the crate should not be used to house the dog all day; for example, when the owner goes to work: a crate is a temporary aid. How long a dog can stay in the crate without serious harm to his welfare differs per individual dog.
A good guideline is not to leave an adult dog in the crate for more than 4 hours at a time during the day: this should preferably not occur daily. For a puppy that can not keep his pee for long, it is undoubtedly too long. At night, when the dog is sleeping, the stay in the crate may take a little longer.
Before putting the dog in the crate, it must be properly walked so that it can release its energy. He must also have received sufficient attention, for example by playing with him. And of course he must have had the opportunity to do his needs.
Even after his stay in the crate, he needs to get enough exercise and focused attention again. For an average adult dog, plan on walking about two hours a day, spread over at least four walks. However, active, energetic dogs need significantly more exercise!
Points to consider when using a Dog Crate
When using a crate, pay attention to the following conditions:
- Do not allow a dog in the crate to wear a collar; he could hang on to it.
- Do not crate the dog when it needs action because it will try to come out.
- Do not use the crate as a place to send the dog to for punishment. The crate will get like this a negative charge.
- Never punish the dog when it is in its crate, this makes it a nasty place find.
- Do not place the crate in a secluded area such as a cellar or shed where the dog cannot make social contact and is away from his family.
- Do not leave the dog in the crate longer than it can hold up to its needs. Otherwise, it will learn to urinate or defecate in the crate. Also, it is annoying for a dog to have to do his needs in or near his sleeping place.
- Make sure the dog is resting when he is in the crate.
- Make sure that children cannot tease the dog in the crate.
- Do not use the crate as a permanent solution for behavioral problems but try to change the behavior, possibly with the help of a qualified behavioral therapist.
Advantages and disadvantages of a Dog Crate
When used wisely, a crate has clear advantages:
- A crate can help with toilet training because a dog will keep its sleeping area clean for as long as possible. If you can’t pay attention to him for a moment, the crate can prevent the dog from doing things you don’t want to do, such as demolition or chewing, so you don’t have to correct him all the time. The crate can serve to safely leave the dog at risky moments in case of aggression problems love, for example, visitors or children.
- The crate can help to keep your dog safe, for instance, because he is not around dangerous objects if you are doing odd jobs. Having to sit in closed crates a lot also has significant disadvantages.
- The crate restricts the dog’s freedom to move and move.
- The crate limits social contact, which is essential for a group animal such as the dog need.
- The crate limits the interaction with the environment, which undoubtedly reduces his socialization options in the case of a puppy.
- The dog has less opportunity to learn to adapt to all kinds of things in its environment. That can cause behavioral problems such as fear and aggression. A dog that has been locked up for a long time can then show overactive behavior as if it wants to make up for what it has been missing all along. The relief of being free ‘and also the restored contact with his family reward that busy behavior, so that it always returns when the dog is taken out of the crate.
- In a crate, the dog has no control over what happens, which can be a stress factor. Especially if something happens that he fears, it can cause panic because he cannot bring himself to safety. Often and for long periods of no control over what happens can also lead to stress, resulting in behavioral problems such as stereotyped behavior or dog that becomes slow and depressed.
- With a crate that is not sturdy enough, a dog who tries to panic out of the crate can panic escape injuring themselves. A dog that is too much in the crate often gets too little exercise and too little attention. Which reduces his well-being and health… Existing problems such as separation anxiety, barking, or uncleanness can go wrong worsen the use of the crate.
- A dog that gets locked up a lot in the crate may become attached to his crate because that place makes him feel safe while at the same time having too little contact with his owner to make him/her feel safe. As a result, good bonding between and the owner does not develop.
Often times, a dog’s mood that needs to be in crate deteriorates and behavioral problems can arise. He can become irritable and easily irritated if someone bothers him. Dogs that are often confined frequently react quickly aggressively to touch and do not learn well to suppress their impulses.
This is probably because they do not get the chance to practice a lot with it, such as dogs that just live loosely between their family in the living room, practice social behavior and learn to deal with all kinds of stimuli and changes. Even if a dog is well socialized as a puppy, having to sit in a crate for too long or too often can cause socialization to be partly reversed.
Overuse of a crate can, therefore, cause all kinds of behavioral problems and reduces the well-being of the dog because his type needs (social contact, sufficient exercise) are not met and he no longer has control over what happens, which causes stress.
The above disadvantages also largely apply to confinement in other small spaces where the dog is separated from his family and his environment.
Training against problem behavior
Do you use a crate because your dog shows unwanted behavior when you let him loose in the room? Then realize that this is only a temporary solution. In the longer term, the recurring incarceration, especially if it is often and long-term, only causes more problems.
So train to change the unwanted behavior into other desired behavior. It is best to ask the help of a dog behavior therapist or dog school for this.
A Dog Crate has definitely a contributing role during the life of your dog, as a puppy and as a grown-up dog. We have tried to describe as detailed as possible the benefits but also when used incorrectly, the downsides. Ensure you take a correct Dog crate with the correct dimensions and materials used.
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