To Crate? Or Not To Crate?

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a million times: “Don’t think like a human when you should be thinking like a dog!” I often have customers who think like a humans, when they really need to be considering how wolves would be raised in a wild pack situation. Domesticated dog behaviors are derived from grey wolves and must be addressed accordingly based on their natural instincts.

A wire crate or dog kennel makes an excellent way to potty train and teach your dog “calm-submissive” mentalities. Freedom is great for a dog IF THEY LIVE IN THE WILD or on a farm. However, in a domestic environment, less is more. With this less is more approach, your dog will learn NOT to potty where it sleeps and will benefit from the calming effects of spending time in a crate. The following tips will definitely start saving you money on your carpet cleaning bills:

  1. Dogs generally don’t sleep where they eliminate. A dog’s best sense is smell. Therefore, they will most often eliminate in an area where they don’t sleep. The use of a crate will form the mindset that the immediate area of the dog must be clean. You want the area of the crate just big enough to let your dog turn around. This way, they won’t eliminate in one corner and sleep in the other. Once your dog no longer has accidents in the crate, you will then graduate him to a slightly larger area (i.e. bathroom or laundry room.) When this larger area proves accident free, you can continue to larger areas until your dog grasps the concept that “potty” is done outside.
  2. A crate brings “calmness and tranquility” to dogs. A normal misconception that many of my customers have is that a crate causes psychological harm to their dog. ANSWER: If my Mother hadn’t given me numerous “time outs” on the dining room chair for upwards of an hour, I NEVER would have gotten off my A-D-D medication! Too much space and freedom for a young puppy will ultimately result in longer potty training times, excessive chewing, and an increase in incessant barking and outdoor roaming. I recommend giving your puppy a “job” to do in the crate like a hard nylabone or a Kong filled with bones or peanut butter. I don’t recommend any potty pads or soft toys with plastic squeakers.
  3. The crate is your “babysitter.” Most babysitters today can cost upwards of $8.00 an hour! Your dogs crate is FREE and always available. If your dogs behavior becomes highly energized or incessant begging, jumping, barking, or chewing won’t stop, use the crate as your “babysitter.” A time out is beneficial to a dog’s mental growth. Just be sure you never associate negative tone with your crate. Make it a vacation or a calm “get away” for your dog. Over 50% of my customers tell me that after only one month, their puppy will walk into the crate on its own. The crate becomes a safe haven and resting place, where the dog naturally connects to it as a den.
  4. Finally – One step forward, two steps back. Just as humans need to relearn or sometimes get back to basics, so do dogs. If your dog is fully potty trained but goes through chewing, barking, or digging periods, go back to using the crate. Returning to the crate will ignite a trigger in the brain, resulting with calmer, less destructive behaviors in the future.

The benefits of using a crate or kennel to develop your dog’s calm-submissive growth are significant and include quicker potty-train time and an overall calming state of mind. Will my dog become antisocial if I crate him? NO. Will my dog think I don’t like him if I crate her? NO. Is it inhumane to crate my dog? NO. But he barks for hours! (Get earplugs. Barking normally stops within one week.) When it comes to crating your dog, think like a dog and NOT a human. You’ll be saving money on your carpet cleaning bills in no time.