When adopting a new dog into your family, you may be tempted to immediately snuggle, cuddle, and spoil it upon its arrival. This is understandable, since dogs are adorable and lovable beyond belief – but you should strongly consider crate-training as soon as possible to avoid potential chaos down the road. You may think that crate-training is “cruel” or “sad” especially if you’ve tried it, only to have the poor pooch crying and whimpering endlessly. The truth is, that crate-training is anything but sad and cruel; it actually is an immense comfort and convenience for both you and your dog. Here’s why you should buy one and crate train your dog ASAP:
- It Becomes Their Happy Place: A very common misconception is that the crate is to be used as some sort of punishment for dogs, making it some kind of hellish place of sadness and despair. It is literally supposed to be the opposite, a place of refuge, comfort, and relaxation for them. Think of their crate as you think of your own bedroom, somewhere to hang out, occupy yourself, sleep, etc. Since dogs are naturally den animals, they treat their crate as they would have treated their den – that is if they were living in the wild among their wolf ancestors. So, basically their crate or “den” is fulfilling their natural instinctual desires to have a cozy home, and is a great place for them to go if they are feeling overwhelmed, irritable, grumpy, or anxious. Make sure you put a bed, blanket, and some toys or chews in there to make it extra inviting!
- It’s An Amazing Housebreaking Tool: Crate-training your dog can be extremely useful from the get-go because you are also simultaneously training them to be housebroken. Since the crate is your dog’s “den” of relaxation and comfort, they are not going to want to pee or poop in it. Therefore, they will probably hold it until you let them out and bring them outside to do their business. In order to do this correctly though, you’ll have to bring them out immediately after you let them out of their crate – if you just let them out and they roam around the house, they could end up relieving themselves in your living room, bedroom, or any other room which will kind of defeat the whole purpose of the training!
- It Prevents Food Aggression Behaviors: It is quite common for dogs to become protective of their food to the point that they begin exhibiting aggressive behaviors. While it is usually most prevalent in shelter and rescue dogs – due to a past of neglect and/or having to guard its food for survival on the streets – it can also develop if you have several dogs, and one of them always tries to eat the others’ food after it finishes its own. To avoid fights between your dogs, feed them in their crates. Sometimes a dog can even be overly protective of its food towards humans, growling and snapping at its owner when they walk by. Although this seems absurd especially considering that you’re the one who gave them the food in the first place, this is obviously a natural survival instinct that domesticated dogs have in their genes from their days in the wild. If you always make it a ritual to feed them in their crate, you will avoid any possible aggressive and protective tendencies, while also containing their messy eating and establishing a consistent feeding routine and schedule.
- It Enables You to Have Peace of Mind When You’re Out: Leaving your pet at home can be quite worrisome, considering all of the things that could happen while you’re gone. They can chew up things, destroy your furniture, pee or poop on the floor (or furniture), eat harmful or damaging foods, hurt themselves, break things, or even escape! There are a ton of things that could go awry if you let your dog have free reign of the house, and all of these things aren’t possible if they are trained to be in their crate while you’re gone. Just by them being in their own space, they aren’t faced with the anxiety of being in a giant, empty house alone – heck, they may not even realize you’re gone if you sneak out while they are already in their crate! When you return home, you will not have to brace yourself for whatever excrement piles, ripped up pillows, or other such destruction that you may come home to otherwise.
- It Makes Traveling With Your Pet Easier: Whether you are going on a vacation, or taking your pet to the vet, traveling can be quite stressful for them. The motion of the car and the uncertainty/excitement of the destination can be extremely anxiety-inducing, made even worse by feelings of claustrophobia if they are not used to being confined to a crate or carrier. However, if they are trained already to associate their crate with positive emotions of comfort and safety, their travel anxiety will be drastically lessened. Not to mention, it is much safer for them to be confined while you are driving, in case you get into an accident. Even a minor collision or fender-bender can send your dog flying into the dashboard! Also, if your dog walks around the car (or worse, by your feet), it can be quite distracting and cause a dangerous accident for both of you.
- Having Guests Over is Less Chaotic: It can be quite frustrating to have guests over if you have the type of dog(s) that bark, jump, and seemingly go crazy when a visitor walks through the door. An otherwise well-behaved dog can be so stimulated by an outside person, that they may start jumping all over the place, including jumping on the guest(s) as well. The chaos can all be avoided if your dog is in its crate when your visitor comes over – they may still bark, but at least they won’t be running and hopping all over the place. It will be a way easier and calmer introduction to have your guest be in the same room as your crated dog, so the dog becomes used to the new person’s presence first and won’t act so “crazy” once you let them out of the crate to greet your visitor. If you would like to avoid interruptions completely, the dog can stay in its crate and chew or nap while you are chatting with your guest.
- It Enables Your Dog to Sleep Easily: Since your dog’s crate is its own cozy little den dwelling, of course it will want to sleep there when everyone goes to bed at night. You may want your pup to sleep in your bed with you, which is fine too – but they are less likely to sleep continuously through the night. Since their crate is a relatively small space, they can only entertain themselves for so long until they finally just sleep. If you share your bed with your dog, they can potentially walk around, explore, dig in the sheets, play with the pillows, lick your face, ask you to play with them, roll around on you, or any other possible distraction. Also, usually dogs decide when it’s time to get up – whether you want to or not – so if they wake up early and you want to sleep in, you could become frustrated. However, if they wake up earlier than you and they’re in their crate, they’ll just hang out until you wake up and let them out.
- It Makes Boarding and Healing Easier: If you have to go on an extended trip and either have to crate your dog and have a pet sitter come over, or board them at a facility, the dog (and the caretakers) will be miserable since it hasn’t been trained to be in a confined space for that long. They will become depressed, stressed, and anxious very quickly. However, if they have been crate trained properly and are used to being in spaces for that long, boarding will not be as big of an issue, perhaps not an issue at all. Even more important, if your dog needs to have some sort of surgery or treatment that requires them to be crated for several days or weeks, the healing process will be drastically more effective if they are crate-trained. If they aren’t crate-trained, they could become anxious and antsy, causing them to move around a lot, making them re-injure themselves, or cause a new injury.
You may feel guilty at first when you are attempting to crate-train your dog, but just remember that it will help both of you in the long run. You are not taking away your dog’s freedom – if anything, you are giving it the freedom to relax and feel safe inside of its own special space. It is not only extremely convenient for you not deal with worries and chaos, but it keeps your dog safe and calm. At the end of the day you have to ask yourself: wouldn’t you act kinda crazy if you didn’t have your own room? If you don’t have one already, now is the time to buy one!