Crate training is the process of teaching a dog to go into its crate on command, and to accept the crate as a familiar and safe location. Dogs are den-dwelling animals and advocates claim that a crate can become a den substitute. Those who advocate the use of crates believe that crate-training benefits both the dog and owner. Crate training is almost exclusively used by American dog owners.
A crate can be used as an adjunct to housebreaking puppies. By instinct, most dogs do not want to defecate or urinate in their den. The crate is intended to be a substitute for a den.
A puppy may be kept in a crate except during feeding time or during supervised play time. When allowed to exit the crate, the puppy is taken to a soiling area to defecate or urinate.
A crate should be large enough for a puppy to be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. If there is too much space, the puppy might use the unoccupied end for wastes. If an owner doesn't want to buy multiple crates as the puppy grows, it's possible to block off one end of a larger crate, or to buy a crate with removable dividers.
The puppy's potty breaks must be frequent enough to avoid “accidents” since puppies have a difficult time controlling urination and defecation. Control gets better as the puppy gets older. Even an adult dog, when ill or affected by certain medications, can end up soiling the crate, making the dog uncomfortable both physically and mentally, if the owner isn't vigilant and aware of the dog's needs.
Toys and soft bedding material in the crate make it more comfortable for a dog or puppy.
A crate should not be used as a prison. Trainers advise that the crate only be closed when the owner is home. Crate training is not the same as confinement for extended periods. No dog should ever be confined to a crate beyond its ability to control its bodily functions.
Away from homeEdit
Many veterinary clinics and hospitals keep dogs in crates when the dog must stay for observation or care. A dog who understands the concept of a crate may be less stressed during medical care and may be easier for the staff to handle. Some kennels also use crates
Control at homeEdit
A crate should always be a pleasurable experience for a puppy. It may also be convenient for the owner.
Travel by airEdit
When a dog travels on an airline, he must be enclosed in an approved crate. Because travel is stressful for the dog, crate proponents claim that a crate-trained dog finds this experience less stressful than a dog who has not been crate trained.
Travel by automobileEdit
An unrestrained dog traveling in a car can create hazards for itself or its human companions by distracting the driver, leaping from the car or attacking passersby.
Dogs also should be restrained for the safety of the driver and the dog. A crate that is securely strapped into the car provides an easy method to contain the dog that still allows the dog to move comfortably during travel, although dog car harnesses and seat belts are also available.
Crate training usually involves rewarding a dog for entering the crate and for remaining there, using the crate as part of a play session, feeding the dog in the crate, allowing the dog to explore and use the crate until it is no longer intimidating.
- Confinement to a crate should not be used as punishment.
- Introduction to a crate should be gradual and accompanied by rewards.
- A dog should not be placed in a crate unless it has relieved itself.
- On release from a crate, a dog should immediately be taken outside.
- A visibly stressed dog should not be crated.
Crates are not universally accepted as a positive method of dog training. Steven Lindsay, in his Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training compares a dog’s attachment to a crate with the Stockholm Syndrome.
"Many advocates of long-term crate confinement claim that dogs are phylogenetically preadapted to live in a crate. These conclusions are based on various fallacious assumptions derived from inappropriate comparisons with the use of dens by wild canids and feral dogs. In reality, a crate has far more in common with a trap (or grave) than it does with a den. Further, a den actually has far more in common with a home, the natural environment of a dog, providing access to communal indoor and outdoor living spaces via a two-way door. An obvious distinction between a den and a crate is physical entrapment, isolation, and inescapability. While the den provides the mother with the seclusion and security that she needs to deliver and care for her young, it does not restrict her freedom of movement, as the crate does. Instead of providing a safe environ for her young, the crate serves the express purpose of separating the dog from social attachment objects.… After learning that the crate is inescapable, however, dogs appear to treat the crate in a paradoxical manner analogous to persons affected by the Stockholm syndrome; that is, they appear to form strong attachments with the crate, which becomes the place they identify as home."