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To crate... or... not to crate!

Crates are a great tool I like to utilise for dogs for a variety of reasons. I believe that every dog should at least be crate trained for the bare minimum of getting them used to confinement for things like the vets, groomers or transporting them, either yourself or a in dog walker's van. Crates are gaining popularity here in the UK but many dog owners are not entirely sure what they are for or how to train their dog to be happy in one. Open plan homes have become more popular and a crate works in lieu of a ‘dog room’.

They can have a bad rap and people see the metal bars and associate them with cages and confinement and zoos. There are also plenty of horror stories around due to some people using crates for the wrong reasons and creating negative associations and leaving dogs fearful. So, what is a crate and what are they used for and what should they NOT be used for?

A dog crate, also known as an indoor kennel or dog cage, are usually a rectangular wire frame with one or two doors and removable tray. Crates don’t just have to be made from metal though, you can get fabric, plastic or timber varieties. You can even get some crates that are incorporated into furniture to disguise them or blend into the room. They come in many sizes depending on your dog and should be sized appropriately so that a dog can comfortably circle in it and lay down.

A properly crate trained dog means you have a great deal of versatility. Crates can be used for:

  • A safe space for your dog to retreat to and not be disturbed

  • Manage problem behaviours such as peeing in the house, chewing things they shouldn't, begging at the table, overtired puppy biting... the list goes on!

  • Keep a dog calm and quiet if injured or under vet instruction to minimise movement

  • Travelling – by law your dog must be secured in the car, and you can get special crash tested crates to protect your dog.

  • Reduce stress when your dog might need to be crated at the groomers, the vets or in a dog walker’s van.

What crates should NOT be used for:

  • to keep the dog contained all day

  • to punish a dog for 'bad' behaviour,

  • just put the dog in a crate and expect them to get over it.

Dogs are never too old to learn how to love being in a crate so it isn't too late to start if you think a crate would help you and your dog. The key to getting started on crate training your dog is to make sure they see it as a positive place where good things happen. I like to break the training down into pieces and make it a fun place to be. I feed all their meals in the crate, play games involving the crate, give them long lasting chews and Kongs in there too. There’s no one way to do it, as long as you’re both having fun!


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