For most dog owners, it’s more reasonable to keep their pets at home rather than let them roam the yard freely. The same goes for putting a dog in a crate instead of letting it wander around the house when you’re not home.
You should crate a young pup or possibly a senior dog every time you leave the house. However, leaving your dog in the crate for more than a few hours is not recommended. A trained, mature dog with house manners should be able to be at home alone without a crate.
Keep reading to learn about the best crating practices. I will share some tips on how to train your dog to the crate and the benefits of using a kennel.
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Is It Cruel To Crate a Dog?
Crating is not cruel when done with the dog’s best interests in mind. When you have your furry friend’s feelings and safety in mind, crating will never be a punishment. The crate can even become your dog’s haven.
There are some benefits to using a crate, including the following:
- The dog learns to stay put. Teaching the dog to trust you and remain in one place for several minutes or hours may save its life. This skill might be beneficial in an emergency, such as an injury or evacuation.
- The dog can unwind. Some dogs might enjoy some time alone in their crate, especially if you live in a busy or chaotic household. Resting is necessary for dogs, especially puppies, older dogs, or dogs with health issues.
- It prepares the dog for traveling. If you plan to kennel your dog while traveling, the crate will make things much easier for you and your pet. Otherwise, your dog won’t be used to being still for hours, and it might also bark incessantly.
Can You Crate a Dog When You Leave for Work?
The length of your workday, your dog’s age, and the amount of time between potty breaks will determine if you can crate your dog when you leave for work.
Holding the bladder is the main issue when leaving the dog alone in a crate. If the pup is too young and not house trained, avoid leaving them for more than 3 to 4 hours. Mature dogs trained not to relieve themselves in the crate may remain enclosed for longer. The AKC recommends leaving an adult dog alone in a crate for no more than 6 to 8 hours. This will prohibit many dog owners from being able to crate their dogs while at work.
A dog’s need for physical activity is the second issue. Take your dog for a good walk before closing it in a crate. Unless your dog wants to be in its’ crate, leave it out when possible to prevent lengthy boredom and lack of movement when you’re not at home. Most crates prohibit dogs from even having a good stretch.
Tips for Crating a Dog With Separation Anxiety
Dogs with separation anxiety should be handled with special care. Do not turn a deaf ear to their calls for help or force them to stay in the crate alone. If your house trained dog shows destructive behavior when you crate them, the reason might be psychological. A dog behaviorist can help with this.
Separation anxiety often occurs in dogs that have lacked structure and stability in their lives. Risk factors include having several owners or having movement restrictions for long periods.
If you have noticed the following signs, your dog might have some form of separation anxiety, and crating may need to be re-assessed.
- Your dog eliminates when alone. Urination and defecation in unusual places and more frequently than usual may signal heightened stress levels.
- The dog engages in persistent vocalization. Barking and howling are ways to attract the owner’s attention. The dog is clearly expressing that some of its needs aren’t fulfilled.
- The dog may try escaping. While escaping the confinement by digging or scratching, the dog may hurt itself or damage the interior of your home.
The best things you can do for your dog, beyond medicating them, are the following behavior modification techniques:
- Minimize the departure time. Getting ready to leave the house may trigger your dog’s anxiety. Therefore, all the actions, such as dressing up or simply getting the coat and keys, should be done as quickly or as frequently as possible. Just pretend you’re getting ready to go out and stay at home.
- Practice counterconditioning. This technique may include positive reinforcement to replace a dreaded action with a desirable one. For example, departure time can be fun if you give the dog treats as you’re leaving the house or for getting in the crate.
- Practice leaving your house for short periods. This reassures your dog that you’ll always come back. Find the time to practice leaving and returning home.
How To Crate Train Your Puppy
You can train your puppy by staying attuned to its needs and armed with patience. Crate training is a gradual process. At first, use the crate sparingly, without long stretches of hours, in well-sized crates with a ton of treats.
Follow these steps to make the training process easier for both of you.
- Use positive reinforcement. A crate is a new place for the dog, so it’s a blank canvas for you to fill with the happiest memories. The best way to make a dog happy is to give them treats. Make every day Christmas by filling the crate with treats and toys. Make sure, however, that your dog won’t be able to choke on anything you leave in the crate.
- Start gradually. The training process should start with an open crate and the dog exploring it for a couple of minutes a day, sporadically. Don’t rush the initial training stage.
- Close the door to the crate. Keep the door closed for a few seconds and gradually progress to several minutes. Be attentive to your dog’s feelings at all times and make adjustments.
- The dog should be comfortable not seeing you. After the dog gets used to the crate and spends time in it with the door closed, you may leave the dog alone in the room. Never leave the house completely on the first try. Instead, stay in a neighboring room in case the dog gets agitated.
- Leave the house for no more than 30 minutes. The short time should let the dog know that you’ll always come back. The security will make it easier for the dog to remain calm while alone.
- Don’t crate your dog as a punishment. Use the crate as a preventive measure. Therefore, it’s crucial to start early and without any rush. It usually takes a couple of weeks to get the dog used to a crate.
- Do not react to every sign of discomfort. Let your dog get accustomed to the crate. If you let the dog out on every bark or whining sound, it will never learn to appreciate its crate.
If you think a professional should help you crate train, check out these tips on choosing the perfect dog trainer.
When Can You Stop Crating Your Dog?
You can stop crating your dog if it has demonstrated that it knows the house rules. It usually takes about two years for the dog to be ready to leave the crate, although some dogs are ready sooner based on my own experience. You can test the dog’s readiness to lose the crate by closing them in one room and checking whether they’ve made a mess.
The crate can be the perfect hideaway for your canine friend every time you leave the house for a few hours. Moreover, if your dog associates the crate with love, food, and rest, it will enjoy spending time there. The happiest places aren’t the biggest or most beautiful, but they’re the ones filled with happy memories and feelings of being secure and safe.