Many people acknowledge the virtues of using a crate to help house break a dog, but there are those who view it as more of an abusive prison cell rather than a positive element of a dog’s existence. This is unfortunately a false perception. Here are a few good reasons why choosing to crate train your dog greatly benefits both him and you.

Reasons to Crate Train Your Dog

Crates help dogs travel. Since trips to the vet, family outings and vacations are inevitable, the dog will have to use his crate at some point. If this place is one of comfort, security and familiarity to him, these adventures will be far less stressful for your dog every time he has to sit in the crate on a car ride.

Crate training protects your house. In the early stages of dog adoption, many an unfortunate pet owner has come home to find their trashes tipped over, shoes bitten to bits, or couch cushions ripped open. This is a natural response for a dog who is bored, agitated, lonely, afraid, or when he is simply unfamiliar with the rules. Getting angry, yelling at or punishing the dog would do absolutely no good in this scenario, and (let’s face it) it would be far better to avoid these destructive behaviors entirely. Keeping a new dog in a crate is a great way to avoid this kind of catastrophe.

Crates can be a rewarding place. By putting treat-concealing toys in the crate, a dog might amuse himself uninterrupted by other animals or humans. If the pup knows that he gets a special toy or a delicious morsel whenever he is told to go in the crate, it will become somewhere he looks forward to going.

It gives the dog a “den.” Canines are creatures who burrow, make dens and safe havens in the wild where they eat, sleep and guard their young. A crate establishes one area in the world as the dog’s “own” space to retreat and hide, and where no others are allowed. Instead of seeing a dog crate as a cage, or an area of limitations, this is a designated place the dog has privacy and safety. The whole concept of a crate reflects a dog’s natural den-making instinct.

Compromise option? If you are worried about keeping your dog cooped up in a tiny, carry-on crate, try a different approach that may have similar benefits. Use a chain metal fence, and block off a larger area of your home. Put out plenty of paper (or a potty patch) in one corner, food and water in another corner, and then bring your hand-held crate into the fenced area. Put a blanket at the bottom of the smaller crate so that it would be comfortable to lie down in. When your dog is tired, he will mostly likely go for a snooze inside the snuggly little crate, while having the freedom to stand up/move around the fenced area.   This would remove the “prison” feel, while keeping your house safe from destructive habits, and would help your pup grow more comfortable with the travel crate for the future.

Cautions About Crating

  • Never leave puppies/young dogs in a crate longer than a couple hours, as they will mostly likely urinate inside it if they are required to be there for much longer. Even adult dogs should not be kept in a crate longer than 8-9 hours ideally.
  • Never use the crate as a punishment, (i.e. if the dog has been disobedient, then he is put in the crate.) This will cause him to have an aversion to the crate, undoing all the positive associations you have established.
  • Only use the crate for training while you are house-breaking a dog. Once he has learned (and obeys) all the house rules, the crate should only be entered whenever the dog wants to.