CRATE TRAINING YOUR DOG
Vickie Haywood, Pet Care and Professional Groomer
and SAAB Member
As a dog breeder, dog show exhibitor and dog training instructor, I know the importance of crates, cages and X-pens for a happy, healthy and safe pet.
Growing up on a farm, we had
stalls in the barn and hauled livestock in special made trailers, so the concept
of teaching animals to accept small spaces was already in existence in my mind. I had never seen a commercial
dog cage until 1969 when I went to my first dog show and started working in a
grooming salon part-time.
Now, a NEW GENERATION of dog
owners have somehow come to believe that using a crate, cage, or X-pen for their
dog is vile and cruel. WHAT? Yes, I read this all the time on social media, that
it is cruel to your house pet. Now, I will explain why this is not true.
As a dog training instructor, here
are 10 of many reasons to use a crate, cage, or X-pen for any pet.
1. At the beginning of a
puppy’s life, it is prudent to keep Mom enclosed with her puppies for her safety
and the safety of her babies. Blind newborns crawl all the time and in an open
space, could get out of the nest and away from its mother which, in turn creates
a frantic mother searching for the lost puppy. Whelping boxes protect all of
them, Mom can hop in and out but babies stay safe and secure until they are old
enough to climb in and out on their own.
2. A little later in life
confining the puppies to an X-pen and beginning to use a crate adds new layers
of protection. You give the pups quiet alone time, they begin to eat in the
crate and learn at a young age to settle, be quiet, sleep and relax and accept
their surroundings just like they would do in a den in the wild.
3. As they get older, we now
use the crate to train the puppy during housebreaking. They wake up, you take
them straight out to go potty, they have a little play time, you give them their
meal and then back to the crate for a nap, 2 hours later start all over again.
This enforces training you and the pup WHERE the potty is, and it’s NOT all over
the house. It also helps you both keeping to a schedule.
4. You should crate your dog
in the car, Why? Because it’s safe. Statistics show crated pets have a better
survival rate in the event of an accident verses riding loose in the vehicle.
There is nothing worse than the trauma of a pet escaping from an accident never
to be found again, or the dog that suffers greatly from injuries sustained
crashing around the inside of the car because he’s loose.
5. In unforeseen weather
emergencies like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, fires, almost every
shelter that will allow pets have to be crated. If you have never taken the time
to teach your pet that crates are a good safe place to be, when the world around
them is in havoc, the stress on your pet would be unimaginable. Having their own
familiar space, blanket and dish, is much less stressful even in a strange place
with sounds and smells they’ve never experienced. Because you taught your pet to
potty in an X-pen is even better during inclement weather because you can set
the X-pen up in the garage or spare room lined with plastic, newspaper or potty
pads and your well-trained dogs never miss a beat and potty on schedule. It is
the same thing when it snows and protects you from slips and falls because you
had to take your dog outside!
6. When you take your pet to
the groomer, the vast majority of groomers must cage. Your dog’s anxiety mounts
to untold levels when the owner is concerned about a cage and the dog has not
been taught to use one.
7. Going to the Vet? Yes,
they all use cages too when your pet has to stay for any length of time.
8. If you are boarding your
dog for vacation, yes, your dog could be in a small enclosure, crates and/or
9. What about quarantining a
sick/injured pet? Sick pets may need to be separated from other pets, you may
have to restrict their mobility because of injury, surgery etc… and in all of
these cases, you will need to confine your pet. If you leave your pet loose in a
house unsupervised, you are asking for disaster to happen!
I personally know instances
where pets were left unsupervised and they chewed lamps cords, causing
fires, they ate inappropriate objects like the sheetrock, or jumped out
windows. I know a dog that pulled a crock pot off a counter and was very badly
burned. Another dog turned on a faucet and flooded half the house before the
owners got home. And then another dog knocked a turkey off the counter and
swallowed a turkey skewer, needing emergency surgery. (here is the actual x-ray)
10. Have visiting family or
are you taking your pet with you to visit with your family? Many dogs can become
incredibly stressed when traveling to visit family and/or when family comes to
your home, the stress can create unwanted behaviors making everyone including
your pet miserable. Having that familiar crate space adds peace and stability to
the visit far from home and safety when strangers are in your home.
As a breeder, groomer, dog
show person, of 55 years, I have experienced all these scenarios, either
personally or it has happened to friends or clients.
So many people on social
media seek help for their anxiety ridden, destructive pets, you can't help but
wonder, where did these pets came from? What is the background of how they were
raised and trained? Did the new owner think it cruel to use an X-pen or crate
and undo what the purebred breeder tried to do?
Mother Nature provides wild
canines the ability to find a "DEN" to keep their pups safe. The pack (dog
community) then babysits and train the puppies as they get older. If we use the
same common sense as nature and duplicate what is genetically programmed into
our pets and meet their needs, everyone will be a lot happier, healthier, and
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