What Is Crating?

A crate is a portable "kennel" that is just large enough to contain the dog it is intended for, made of either metal or plastic. "Crating" is the practice of using this kennel for training purposes, usually in housetraining and houseproofing a dog.

Crating is a controversial topic. There are those who believe that crate training is indefensible and others who believe that it is a panacea. The reality is likely somewhere in between.

What does the dog think?

First, you must understand what the crate represents to the dog. Dogs are by nature den creatures -- and the crate, properly introduced, is its den. It is a safe haven where it does not need to worry about defending territory. It is its own private bedroom which it absolutely will not soil if it can help it. Judicious use of the crate can alleviate a number of problems, stop others from ever developing, and aid substantially in housetraining.

Where is the crate? It should be around other people. Ideally, set it up in the bedroom near you. Have the dog sleep in it at night. Dogs are social and like to be around their people. Don't force it into the crate. Feed your dog in the crate.

Can they be abused?

Certainly. Anything intended for a dog can be abused. That doesn't make it wrong; it does mean you need to know what you are doing. Things to remember:

  • The crate must be large enough for the dog to stand and turn around.
  • A puppy should not be left in for more than 3 or 4 hours at a time.
  • An adult dog should not spend more than about 8 hours a day in one.
  • No dog should be forced to remain in a soiled crate. You must rearrange time spent in the crate to avoid this happening in the first place.
  • Not all dogs require constant crating; most can be slowly weaned off once they get older and you can trust them more in the house,
  • Properly introduce dogs, especially older dogs, to the crate. Most dogs like their crates, but not all do so immediately.
  • Even when you are no longer using the crate regularly, leave it available for napping. A crate trained dog is always more easily handled: in the car, at the vets, when travelling, etc.

Working people should consider using an X-Pen in addition to a crate for during the day. The X-Pen can be set up in say the kitchen with the crate (with door open) in one corner of the pen. If no one will be taking puppy out during the day you will have to "paper train" in part of the X-Pen. Puppy then will have a larger area to exercise in and can still use his/her crate for taking naps.

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Proper use of a crate

Crating a puppy or dog often seems unappealing to humans, but it is not cruel to the dog. A dog's crate is similar to a child's playpen, except it has a roof (dogs can jump out of a playpen) and is chewproof. Also, a crate is not suitable for activity or exercise, but rather for rest. Dogs are carnivores and do not need to be constantly active during the daytime, like people (as gatherers) do.

If a crate is properly introduced to a dog (or puppy) the dog will grow to think of the crate as its den and safe haven. Most dogs that are crated will use the open crate as a resting place.

The major use of a crate is to prevent the dog from doing something wrong and not getting corrected for it. It is useless to correct a dog for something that it has already done; the dog must be "caught in the act". If the dog is out of its crate while unsupervised, it may do something wrong and not be corrected, or worse yet, corrected after the fact. If the dog is not corrected, the dog may develop the problem behavior as a habit (dogs are creatures of habit), or learn that the it can get away with the behavior when not immediately supervised. A dog that rarely gets away with anything will not learn that if nobody is around it can get away with bad behaviors.

If the dog is corrected after the fact, it will not associate the correction with the behavior, and will begin to think that corrections are arbitrary, and that the owner is not to be trusted. This results in a poor relationship and a dog that does not associate corrections, which are believed arbitrary, with bad behaviors even when they are applied in time. This cannot be overemphasized: a dog's lack of trust in its owner's corrections is one of the major sources of problems between dogs and their owners.

A secondary advantage of a crate is that it minimizes damage done by a dog (especially a young one) to the house, furniture, footwear etc. This reduces costs and aggravation and makes it easier for the dog and master to get along. It also protects the dog from harm by its destruction: ingestion of splinters or toy parts, shock from chewing through wires, etc.

A young dog should be placed in its crate whenever it cannot be supervised.

If a dog is trained in puppyhood with a crate, it will not always require crating. Puppies or untrained dogs require extensive crating. After a year or so of crate training, many dogs will know what to do and what not to, and will have good habits. At this time crating might only be used when the dog needs to be out of the way, or when traveling.

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Crating do's and don'ts

  • Do think of the crate as a good thing. In time, your dog will too.
  • Do let the dog out often enough so that it is never forced to soil the crate.
  • Do let the dog out if it whines because it needs to eliminate. If you know it doesn't have to eliminate, correct it for whining or barking.
  • Do clean out the crate regularly, especially if you've put in a floor and you have flea problems.
  • Don't punish the dog if it soils the crate. It is miserable enough and probably had to.
  • Don't use the crate as a punishment.
  • Don't leave the dog in the crate for a long time after letting it eat and drink a lot. (because the dog will be uncomfortable and may have to eliminate in the crate.)
  • Don't leave the dog in the crate too much. Dogs sleep and rest a lot, but not all the time. They need play time and exercise. When you are at home, they should not be in the crate (except at night when they are still very young puppies). If necessary, put a leash on your pup and tie it around your waist while you're at home.
  • Don't check to see if your dog is trustworthy in the house (unsupervised, outside of the crate) by letting the dog out of the crate for a long time. Start with very short periods and work your way up to longer periods.
  • Don't ever let the dog grow unaccustomed to the crate. An occasional stint even for the best behaved dog will make traveling and special situations that require crating easier.
  • Don't put pillows or blankets in the crate without a good reason. Most dogs like it cooler than their human companions and prefer to stretch out on a hard, cool surface. Besides providing a place to urinate on, some dogs will simply destroy them. A rubber mat or a piece of peg-board cut to the right size might be a good compromise (be sure to clean under any floor covering frequently).

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A key ingredient in crate training is to make it fun for the puppy. Do this by putting some treats in the crate and letting puppy find them. Toss the treat into the crate and when puppy goes in to get it, praise GOOD DOG....GOOD PUPPY! Once in a while when puppy goes into crate to retrieve the treat, close the door for a few minutes. If puppy is nice and quiet say GOOD PUPPY. However, if puppy is making a ruckus - IGNORE. When puppy settles down, say GOOD PUPPY and then open the crate door.
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What is socialization, and why is it so important?


From 8 to 12 weeks of age, puppies go through a fear imprinting stage. During this time, it is crucial to carefully introduce a pup to a variety of stimuli every day, and to ensure that the experiences are positive. This is also a good time to start training the pup in basic behaviors.


These socialization efforts make the difference in the dog's outlook on life. Instead of reacting fearfully to new experiences, the dog is comfortable when encountering new things, animals and people. This helps the dog and everyone else, since the most common cause of unprovoked dog aggression is lack of proper socialization.

What is socialization? Introducing and familiarizing a canine to new experiences - including people, places, objects, other animals - in ways that help the dog learn how to respond to and interact with these experiences appropriately and without fear.


The list of things to socialize a pup, or dog, to include umbrellas, canes, wheelchairs, bikes, keys, men with beards, people in hats, young children, passing trucks, odd sounds and sudden, loud noises and other animals.

The puppy brain is most inclined to accept new experiences between 4 and 12 weeks of age. Missing the window after 14 weeks of age can socially handicap the pup. Of course, the dog can still learn, but it is harder, mostly due to the need for to help the pup unlearn unproductive and inappropriate responses. Prevention is far better than rehabilitation, so if you can work within a puppy's critical learning window, you and the pup have an immense advantage.


Socialization Principles:

Introduce the pup to new people, places, objects and situations ONLY when you can control the experience.

It's your job to protect the dog from situations that frighten him. Something as simple as letting someone get too close too soon can cause a setback in socialization, causing the dog to hide behind you or adopt a fear-aggressive posture and growl at the offending person. If this does happen, correct the human, not the dog. Tell the person to back away, which will show the dog you can protect the pack and that he does not have to.

When working on socializing your pup or dog, do not impose on other people. First ask for their help. Most people will oblige.


Taking a pup on walks on leash offers effective opportunities for socialization. However, avoid dog parks and other areas where there's higher risk of exposure to disease. Do not let your dog sniff feces or to play with any dogs who might be unhealthy or aggressive.


Introduce a puppy into a large group only after having socialized him to smaller groups.

Use treats, praise, touch, even play to reward, and thus reinforce, your dog for displaying positive responses.

Reward the behaviors that you want repeated and ignore or give a signal to the behaviors you do not like. The signal could be "uh uh" or "too bad". If the signal does not discourage the undesired behavior, try a time out - a brief separation period from the fun interactive environment.


Be aware of the signals you send. Make it obvious to your dog that you enjoy encountering other people, animals and things. Even puppies observe and sense their handlers' reactions.

You must think of what you are teaching your dog in every situation. Your dog is aware of your actions and reactions, your attention or lack of attention, even if you don't realize it.


Understand when and why your dog shows fear, but do not reinforce it. Cooing, coddling and cuddling a pup or dog when she is showing fear will not help the animal lose that fear. Help your canine realize that you have control of the situation and that the dog does not have to be afraid, or take matters into his own paws (or jaws). You are the alpha, and you want your dog to trust that you will protect him.


It is not fair to put any dog in a situation in which he might feel threatened or prompted to use his teeth. This is why you must educate not only your dog but the people in your home. For example, it is essential to teach family members never to bother dogs when eating, playing with a favorite toy, or resting.


Be careful about the people you choose to help care for your dog. Be it your spouse, roommate, children or petsitter, you need to explain that you are trying to socialize your pup, and that it is necessary for them to reinforce good behaviors in the same way you do in order for the pup to learn. If you are not sure an individual will abide by this, limit that person's contact with your dog during the socialization and training stages. Otherwise, the person can undermine and undo the progress you make with your dog.


One reason that puppies should not be separated from their mother and littermates before 8 weeks of age is that they learn core behaviors from mother dog and siblings. These include proper social play and bite inhibition.

Socialization does not end at puppyhood. While the foundation for good behavior is laid during the first few months, good owners encourage and reinforce social skills and responsiveness to commands throughout the dog's life.

 

 

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