Are you considering crate training for your pup but feeling unsure? It can be a topic that has dog owners divided. Simply put, crate training involves confining your dog to a small, enclosed space for certain periods, either to establish a bathroom routine or as a disciplinary measure. But is this a helpful training tool, or does it do more harm than good? In this blog, we'll dig into the benefits and drawbacks of crate training, so you can decide if it's right for your furry companion. Let's get started!
The Pros of Crate Training:
Although many dog owners may feel guilty for crate training their canine companion, enclosed spaces create a shelter for your dog to rest and relax. In fact, dogs instinctively seek small spaces to create protective shelters for themselves. Crates are useful training tools for puppies, safe havens for senior dogs, and lifesavers for emergencies.
a) Safety and Security: For many dogs, crates provide a sense of security and a safe space to retreat to when they're feeling overwhelmed or tired. Crates can protect dogs from household hazards and prevent them from destructive behaviours, such as chewing on furniture or electrical cords.
b) Easier House Training: Crate training is often successful at teaching dogs to go to the bathroom outside, as they instinctively avoid soiling their sleeping or living space. This encourages the dog to wait until they're outside to do their business, helping to establish a consistent bathroom routine.
c) Simplified Travel: A crate-trained dog is more likely to feel comfortable and relaxed during car journeys or when staying in unfamiliar places. This makes travelling with your pet more enjoyable for both of you.
d) Reduced Separation Anxiety: For dogs that suffer from separation anxiety, crates can provide a feeling of security when their owner is not home. This can help to mitigate destructive behaviours and ease the dog's anxiety.
e) Vet Care: If your dog ever needs to be crated for medical reasons, such as after surgery, being comfortable in a crate can make the experience less stressful for both you and your pet.
If you decide to go down this path, the most important step in crate training is making it a positive experience. Try feeding them treats in their crate so crate time feels like a reward. Never leave dogs in their crate all day, instead limit crate time based on how long they spend in their crate daily, their age, and level of house training.
The Cons of Crate Training:
While it's certainly not mandatory, many experts recommend it as a helpful tool for puppy training. However, it's important to remember that some dogs may not react well to being confined in a crate for too long or too often. If your furry buddy has separation anxiety or is uncomfortable when away from you, they might not be the best candidate for crate training. So, before jumping on the crate training bandwagon, make sure it's the right fit for your dog's personality and needs. Here are some reasons why it may not work for you and your household:
a) Misuse and Overuse: Critics argue that crates can be misused, leading to the emotional and physical suffering of dogs. For instance, some dog owners may crate their dogs for long periods or as a form of punishment, which can lead to distress, frustration, and even physical issues like muscle atrophy. If this has happened in the past to your dog, they might not be a huge fan of giving it another go and its best to avoid it.
b) Space Constraints: Crates can take up a significant amount of space in your home, which can be inconvenient for some dog owners, particularly those living in small apartments.
c) Cost: Crates can be expensive, particularly if you need to purchase multiple sizes as your dog grows from a puppy to an adult. Crate accessories, like beds and covers, can further add to the cost.
d) Guilt: Some dog owners may feel guilty or uncomfortable with the idea of confining their pet to a crate for any length of time, even if it is for the dog's benefit.
If you think your dog is just not suited to crate training, there are alternative methods for achieving many of the same benefits, such as providing a designated "safe space" in the home, using baby gates or exercise pens, or employing positive reinforcement training techniques.
When used responsibly and appropriately, crate training can offer numerous benefits for dogs and their owners, so our advice is to adopt crate training especially for puppies. However, it's essential to consider all angles and evaluate whether crate training is the right choice for you and your dog. As a responsible dog-owner, you’ll know what your best friend needs; be mindful of your dog's comfort, wellbeing, and temperament, and explore alternative methods if crate training doesn't seem like the best fit!