Tip of the Month

11/26/2007 Crates

Crates are an excellent dog training tool that allows dog owners to “crate” or confine their dogs for short periods of time. This can serve multiple purposes because dogs, being derived from wolves and thus being den animals, can quickly learn to love their makeshift caves. Here we will discuss one variation of the dog crate – the airline or travel crate.

Airline Crate
Airline crates are solid plastic construction crates with wire vents on the sides and a wire door that latches to keep the dog safely inside and unable to escape. They are sometimes used in animal training but are more often used for travel. There are several other variations of crates, including the puppy play pen and the wire crate (which a trainer is more likely to use for housebreaking and other dog training needs).

Fit
The dog should have room to stand up and turn around comfortably in the crate with the door shut. These crates come in many different sizes, so finding a good fit is fairly easy. If you are unsure of what size to buy, bring your pooch with you while you go shopping. You may also choose to ask your dog trainer to accompany you to the pet supply store if you need additional assistance.

Usage
The crate is a great management tool and an excellent housebreaking tool. It is extremely useful during training; almost any professional in an animal career uses some form of crate for training sessions and/or travel. The crate should contain safe toys that the dog finds interesting and should not be viewed as a form of punishment. Using the crate as a “time out” space will be detrimental.

Pros
• Crate training can be hugely helpful in dog training and can help to solve a number of behavior problems, including separation anxiety, house training, chewing, and unruly house behavior.

• Dogs are den animals and the crate simulates the close, dark effect of the den. This is often soothing to a dog and allows him or her to instinctively feel safe while in the crate. Your animal trainer will utilize this reaction to accustom your dog to his crate.

• The confining nature of the crate helps the owner to maintain control of the dog and prevents the dog from making mistakes that will cause setbacks.
The crate dismantles for easy cleaning and storage.


Cons
• An uneducated dog owner may leave the dog in the crate for too long. Your trainer can provide you with guidelines regarding the minimum and maximum crate time you should allot your pooch.

• The crate takes up quite a bit of space when you have a large dog, and they are somewhat unsightly, rarely matching any house decor.

• Some people may be resistant to the idea of confining their dog in a crate. Again, consult your dog trainer for explanations and instructions regarding positive usage of the crate.

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