Crating Your Dog

Dog Crates at Amazon.comCrates are not bad as some people say – they replicate the idea of a den which dogs naturally dig in the wild. However, no den that they dig includes a door they can’t open. Don’t believe people who say that dogs “love” their crates. No animal likes to be confined against its will. But many dogs learn to tolerate their crates and will go in willingly when asked. Some even go to them when they are tired on their own. But when we shut that door we take away their freedom and they know it. They comply because that is what makes them the amazing creatures they are – they trust us implicitly.

Crates are tools that help dogs live well with us and for that reason I advocate reasonable use of them. I have a rule – no time in a crate during the day for longer than one hour more than the number of months old they are. That is a confusing sentence so let me give you an example or two. For a two month old puppy, she should not be confined for more than 3 hours. A 4-month old puppy should be crated no more than 5 hours. And actually, I think 5 hours is the maximum during the day that any dog should be confined, regardless of age, but that’s just me. At night it’s a bit different and I think that 8 or 9 hours is fine. But with a new puppy that is way too long and if the bladder can’t hold it just won’t. And once a puppy learns to live in a pee filled crate they will keep peeing. Don’t let them get into that habit. Let a puppy out right before bed, again half way through the night, and again first thing in the morning. And don’t wait for a puppy to wake you – letting a puppy out of his crate because he is crying will only reinforce crying in the crate and that simply is a bad idea. Set your alarm and wake the puppy up.

One of my students at my dog training club said it best, “having dogs is a lifestyle choice” and anyone who loves dogs knows exactly what that means. We who love our canines don’t think twice about saying no to or cutting short a visit that keeps us away longer than we think is right. We willingly get up in the middle of a freezing night for our new tiny puppy. These dogs are members of our families and we are responsible for their well being. Period. Remember, an adult dog has the mental capacity equivalent to a 3 year old human child. This is not to say that adult dogs are immature, they are very sophisticated in their doggy ways. But it is helpful to give us a sense of how cruel it is to keep a dog in a crate for an 8 hour night and an 8 hour day. Would we even think of depriving our 3-year-olds of so much stimulation for so long?! But some of us don’t think twice about doing it to our dogs. Our dogs won’t complain but I hope if you do this you try to change things a bit. Our dogs deserve it.

December 30, 2008 • Tags: , • Posted in: behavior, essentials, recommended products

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