What are the benefits of crate training my dog?
Dogs are hard-wired to be den animals. A den is a small, safe, well-defined space where dogs feel instinctively protected. It is also a place that they instinctively avoid soiling. The combination of these two natural traits is what makes crate training, done properly, a kind and effective component in house-training your puppy or dog. A crate can also be a place for your dog to safely rest or have “downtime.”
A crate can help with house training by setting up a routine. For example, you can feed your puppy in his crate and, afterward, carry or walk him on a lead straight out to an elimination site. Once outside, use a consistent word or phrase to remind your dog why he’s outside. Immediately reward successful behavior with generous praise.
Puppies should not be left in a crate for long periods of time. It is important that puppies not be forced to break their instinctive aversion to soiling their sleeping area, which can lead to serious house-training difficulties. Also, since they are still developing, social interaction is crucial.
There are other benefits to crate training dogs of any age. It may be necessary to use a crate when traveling with your pet or when your dog is recovering from an injury. These situations will be much less stressful if your dog is already comfortable in a crate. For these purposes, start by putting treats and/or toys in the crate and encouraging your dog to go in on his own over time. Some dogs may need to warm up to the crate slowly. Crate training is not recommended for dogs with separation anxiety, since they could injure themselves trying to get out.
No dog, young or old, should be living in a crate full-time. Dogs are social animals and need regular interaction and daily exercise.
A crate should never be used as a form of punishment. Your dog should have only positive reactions to his crate and recognize it as a safe, cozy place of his own.