To Crate, Or Not To Crate... That Is The Question!

Jan 1, 2012

To Crate, Or Not To Crate... That Is The Question!

Nothing brings more to the table when I first meet with a new client than crate training. Most humans view crating as a "prison," or consider it cruel to confine a puppy or dog.

Crate training is a necessity. It a way to teach your dog to have self-restraint (holding his "potty"), it offers structure by creating a routine, it gives the dog a place that he can feel comfortable (consider like a bedroom), and offers you and the dog a "retreat" should things get chaotic in the home. A crate also encourages a pup or dog's personal cleanliness.

In the wild, canines have a natural "order" to their pack; a hierarchy system that works for them. They are content because they live in a very structured environment. They are productive (hunting, etc.) because they have "order." Their "crate" is their cave--it represents safety and solitude. A crate, used properly in the home, offers a dog more structure, more safety, and yes--you guessed it--more solitude.

We, as humans, do not understand their "system" (unless we choose to learn about it). Because there is a communication-gap between our dogs and ourselves (think of it as being in a home where you do not understand the language being spoken and you have to rely on hand and facial/mouth gestures), we have a responsibility to our pets to try and communicate better with them, and provide them an atmosphere that is conducive to what makes the most sense to them and most comfortable. I am not talking about fluffy beds and meat scraps--I am talking about giving them clear and concise "household rules," and being fair and equitable in doing so. A crate is just a small help in this regard.

By crate training your dog, you are giving him/her the best gift you possibly can as a human! It will ease them into transitional periods such as vacationing, boarding, grooming, vet stays, etc. As humans, we need to understand that there will come a time when we will need to be away from our dog(s). Do you want the responsibility of creating a neurotic dog who cannot be away from you and will make him/herself physically sick because he/she cannot "settle" without you? Think about that... before you "humanize" your dog to the point of making him/her miserable without you, consider this sensible tool. Do your pup a favor and learn more.

Remember, a crate is not something to be "abused," and I do not advocate crating for extended periods of time. Use it for training, safety, and practical purposes.