By Zara M.
Keeping your dog in a crate may seem like you are locking them up and confining them in a cage that they can’t escape from. A dog crate does essentially look like a small animal cage after all. But is this how your dog feels about his crate? Are dog crates a good idea?
In short, dog crates are a good idea to help train your dog and keep them safe. Eventually, the dog crate gives them a “safe place” when they are scared. There are many good things about dog crates… IF THEY ARE USED PROPERLY.
In this article we will ask the question – Are dog crates a good idea? We will explore what you should know about the pros and cons of using a dog crate for your pet.
In this article we will discuss the following:
- What is a dog crate used for?
- Do dogs like sleeping in a dog crate?
- What are the pros & cons of using a dog crate?
- How to use a dog crate to help with toilet training
What Is A Dog Crate Used For?
Dog crates are designed to comfortably and safely keep a dog contained. Dog crates are made from strong and durable materials that are safe and hygienic for your dog. This means that they are easy to clean, and you can leave your dog inside the crate without having to worry that they might escape or hurt themselves. Dog crates are also proven to help prevent young dogs from starting house fires.
Dog crates come in a variety of different sizes too, so you can find one that provides plenty of room for your dog, allowing them to stand up fully and turn around easily in order to get comfortable and then settle down to rest.
You can also buy washable soft pads for the base and other accessories for your crate, like covers and food/water bowls that attach to the bars and help you make the crate as comfortable as possible for your dog.
Dog crates are most commonly used as a safe space to keep a dog contained when they can’t be supervised, and they are especially popular for young puppies because they can help to aid the toilet training process. We will explore this in more detail further on in the article.
Dog crates also create the perfect den and bed for your dog, giving him his own personal space to retreat to when he feels like it.
As good dog owners, we all know how important it is to restrain your dog while traveling in the car. Dog crates are useful when needing to keep a dog contained safely and comfortably during travel, this may be in a car or van, or during air travel.
Do Dogs Like Sleeping In A Dog Crate?
Due to the cage-like nature of a dog crate many people assume that being confined inside of one is not a positive experience for a dog. However, this is not necessarily true, as it depends on what the dog’s relationship with its crate is.
A dog crate can be made into a very desirable place for a dog to spend his time, especially if the environment is warm (or cool in hot weather) and quiet. A dog can easily be trained to love their crate, especially if you start training while the dog is still young.
Eventually, you won’t need to shut the crate anymore and the dog crate becomes more like an “indoor dog house” that your pet uses as it’s little home within your home.
But aside from training a dog to enjoy being inside of his crate, dogs also have a natural instinct to create or seek out a den to sleep in. A dog crate can easily be made to resemble a den by creating a cosy and covered retreat in a quiet and draft-free corner of the house. Dogs like small spaces to curl up in, which is why many dog beds are soft and donut shaped. Dogs are also known to want to dig their way under the duvet of your bed in order to find a warm and cosy sleeping spot.
If you want to teach your dog that his crate is the perfect place for him to spend his time in, here are a few helpful pointers:
- Never use your dog’s crate as a form of punishment, as you only want him to associate the space with positive experiences in order to avoid him not feeling safe and happy in it.
- Always provide your dog with a favorite toy, stuffed Kong or chew toy when he spends time inside of the crate, especially if you want to contain your dog by closing the door of the crate. These will help to keep your dog distracted and happy, reinforcing the closed crate as a positive experience to be looked forward to.
- Keep your dog’s crate in a room of its own, or somewhere in the house that is quiet, draft-free, and away from activity. This will allow your dog to zone out in his safe-space and feel completely relaxed.
- You can make the environment even more relaxing for your dog by having some soothing music play in the background. Alternatively a talk-channel on the radio can help to keep your dog company while you are away.
- Always ensure that your dog has been to the toilet before being locked inside the crate for any amount of time. If your dog needs to pee while he is locked inside of the crate the experience will be very stressful and in the future he will associate the crate with stress.
- Make sure that your dog has access to a water bowl inside of the crate. The best kind clips onto the bars in order to avoid spillages.
What Are The Pros & Cons Of Using A Dog Crate?
Dog crates are an easy way to keep your dog contained in a variety of situations. For example, if you have guests over for dinner you can settle your dog down in his crate in another part of the house, which can help you and your guests to relax if your dog tends to get overexcited, or your guests have children who are nervous of dogs.
A crate can also be useful if you need to clean the house and you don’t want your dog attacking the hoover like it is a game, we all know how annoying that can be! Alternatively, if you work from home and have a young dog that demands attention, a crate can be used in another room to settle them down while you focus on your work.
When trained correctly the crate can become a symbol of calm, encouraging your dog to relax or sleep. This is perfect if you have a young puppy that has become over tired and doesn’t know what to do with themselves. The crate helps to tell the dog that it is bedtime.
A dog crate can be a good way to transport your dog safely and comfortably from one place to another in the car. It stops your dog from moving about, getting stressed, or causing a distraction to the driver. If your dog happens to suffer from car sickness a crate is a good way to keep any mess contained too so that your car is protected and the mess is easier to clean up afterwards.
On the topic of messes, a dog crate is also the perfect place to feed your dog treats, especially if you want to provide them with a really messy treat of some kind. Your dog will be more than happy to hang out in the crate while she enjoys her favorite snack, and afterwards you can simply clean the dog crate.
Although dog crates have many positive attributes, there are also cons to be considered. For example, crates can take up quite a lot of space, and they can be a bit of an eyesore and end up dominating a room if not positioned carefully. A dog crate may however be disguised when placed underneath a table or have a cover fitted over the top of it. Many crates have covers designed to fit over them perfectly, and these can usually be purchased separately in a variety of attractive designs.
Dog crates are also not a good idea if you have a dog that has not been taught how to enjoy and spend his time inside of it. Without patient training, your dog may simply adopt unwanted behaviors such as howling, digging, scratching and barking. Your dog will not only annoy you and your neighbors, but they could also hurt themselves in their frustration to get out.
How To Use A Dog Crate To Help With Toilet Training
A dog crate can be a great tool to help when it comes to training a puppy to go to the toilet outside in the garden instead of soiling the carpets and floors in your home. The reason for this is that the crate allows you to control what your dog is doing because you can create a schedule for your pup that divides his day up using crate-time as resting time. All other times should be supervised, and the time periods outside of the crate should start and end in a trip to the garden to give your puppy the opportunity to eliminate.
The reason crate training can be so effective is that it encourages dog owners to be more vigilant and consistent with their dog’s toilet training, meaning there are far fewer opportunities for accidents and much more opportunity to praise your pup for peeing in the correct place, which speeds up the training process.
The crate schedule system also provides your dog with a strong sense of routine, so that it becomes very predictable when they will need to go to the toilet. As a general rule and guide, puppies tend to pee after every activity. Activities include a period of rest, periods of play, periods of feeding, etc.
To sum up, a dog crate is a really useful tool to have if you are a dog owner, and especially if you are a new dog owner with a young puppy. Just as a child has their own room, it is important for dogs to have a little space that they can call their own. A dog’s bed is his territory and safe space, so why not invest in a dog crate as your dog’s safe space, seeing as it has so many different uses?
The great thing about a dog crate is that although they are large and heavy, they can also be folded flat, which makes them very easy to transport. This means that if your dog has to stay overnight at a friend’s house, they can take their safe-space with them! Dog crates are a very good investment.