Housebreaking, chewing, barking, mange, toenails, itching and scratching? You've got dog questions, we've got answers!
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 small pens.
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 safer.
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