If you're new to the concept of crate training, you may be wondering why people do it. After all, isn't a dog much happier having free reign of the house or backyard? Believe it or not, crate training has a lot to do with a dog's natural instincts as a den animal who uses a den for sleeping, hiding from danger, and raising their little families.
When you welcome a new puppy into your home, the crate becomes your puppy's den where he or she can feel safe and comfortable (and not tearing up your house) while you're in bed for the night or running errands.
Dog owners are not supposed to use crates as a primary home for their pets. Instead, they use the crate specifically for the purpose of house training because dogs naturally do not like to soil their dens. People can also use crates to safely transport their dogs, and to limit access to other rooms while the puppy learns the house rules, such as not chewing on shoes, children's toys, and furniture.
Use Caution When Crate Training
The Humane Society of the United States warns dog owners about crate training. The organization says that a crate "is not a magical solution to common canine behavior." It goes on to say that if a crate is used incorrectly, the dog can feel trapped and frustrated.
- Never punish your dog by sending them to the crate. If you do this, your dog will be afraid of it and they will refuse to go inside of it.
- Do not leave your dog in the crate for long periods of time. If you crate your dog all day and night, your dog won't get enough human interaction or exercise.
- Leaving your dog in the crate too long can cause your pet to suffer from anxiety and depression.
- Puppies cannot control their bladders for long periods of time, so they should not stay in a crate for more than 3 or 4 consecutive hours. It's the same with adult dogs who are being housetrained; an older can hold it for longer but they don't know that they're supposed to.
- People are only supposed to crate their dog until the dog has reached the point where they will not destroy the house. After that, it's supposed to be a place that the dog goes to on their own (voluntarily).
If you're considering crate training, please remember that the crate may be your dog's den, but just as people would not spend their entire lives in their bedrooms, dogs shouldn't spend most of their lives trapped inside a crate.
Have questions about crate training? Contact a local veterinarian for the compassionate advice you and your pet need.