Crate Training a Puppy – Cruel or Humane?
When potty training a puppy or dog the crate is an essential tool. Most professional dog trainers and veterinarians recommend crate training for a puppy to accelerate housebreaking a puppy or dog. While some may disagree, the crate is actually humane and the most effective training tool for potty training a puppy you can use. We as humans value our freedom and tend to project our human feelings onto our pets which results in the unfortunate conclusion by some that crate training is inhumane. However, most puppies and dogs look favorably upon a crate, especially when the owner introduces it properly and uses it judiciously.
The dog crate may be a cage to us but to the puppy it is his cozy den. If you observe puppies in the home they will try to find small spaces to curl up in, like going under tables, desks or even under beds to seek comfort and safety. Their ancestors, the wolf, live in under ground dens that protect them from the elements and predators. Dogs have this same natural denning instinct.
Today more people are aware of the benefits of using a crate when house training a puppy or even an older dog. The premise is that a dog or puppy will not eliminate where they sleep, and this along with a consistent feeding routine and potty schedule we can teach the puppy where and when it should potty quickly and painlessly.
There are other benefits to crate training a puppy. The crate can also be used to teach a puppy to be calm in the owner’s absence. For example: If your dog or puppy starts barking or crying when you leave, you can use the crate to teach him to be calm while you are at home. Once there’s a pattern of calm behavior when you are at home you can start leaving for short periods of time and then extend the time as your puppy learns how to handle your absence. Eventually the goal would be to wean your puppy away from the kennel when he has demonstrated that he can be trusted. This might take up to a year depending on your dog. Remember that the crate is not a puppy prison and should not be used as punishment. If you work during the day it is not advisable to leave your puppy in the crate all day.
A good dog trainer can coach you through crate training a puppy and also help you recognize any early signs of anxiety or serious canine behavior problems that might be developing. Setting up a puppy training program and puppy safe environment in the right way can go a long way to preventing future dog behavior problems.
Kennels can also be used as a management tool for training dogs suffering from separation anxiety or other behavior problems. (This is the term for dogs that engage in destructive behavior when their owners are away.) Rather than letting the dog destroy his home or yard we can teach the dog to be calm in a confined space while we are away. The crate, if properly trained, can have a calming effect on the dog keeping him from acting out because of the anxiety associated with the owner’s absence. We will have future articles on Dog Separation Anxiety and how to treat it.
For now here is a good article called “Aloneness Training”
A crate is an excellent dog and puppy training tool, but it should not be over used or become a substitute for good dog training. Over use can damage your dog or puppy psychologically. Putting the dog into the kennel when you are frustrated or angry may solve the immediate problem, but in the long run you need to also teach your puppy some self control and manners. Along with exercise, training, play and affection the crate should be part of your puppy’s daily routine. If you find yourself using the crate too much you may need help from a professional dog trainer to help you better manage your puppy’s bad behavior.