by Ms. Dany Canino
Conversation between two new puppy buyers:
Owner #1: “…the breeder of my puppy wants me to get a dog crate to periodically put my puppy in until she´s past the housebreaking and teething stage, but I just can´t bring myself to put that adorable puppy into a cage like a wild animal. I love her too much to do that to her. I think it´s a cruel practice.”
Owner #2: “…I got a crate for my puppy and I don´t think it´s cruel at all. I was able to housebreak my puppy in less than a week and now that he is teething I put him in his crate when I´m not there to watch him. This way, he doesn´t destroy anything nor get into anything that might hurt him or kill him. I love my puppy too. I love him enough to give him this protection. Interestingly enough, the puppy now absolutely adores going into his crate.”
One week later, same two puppy owners:
Owner #2: “…Why don´t you bring your puppy over today to play with my puppy?”
Owner #1: “…I can´t . My puppy was rushed to the Vet this morning for emergency surgery. Apparently she was chewing on something, we´re not sure what because she was in another room of the house, and it lodged in her intestines. The Vet is trying to dislodge it. Right now, we don´t even know if she is going to live. The Vet told me that if I had had a crate for her during this teething period, this situation probably wouldn´t have happened. I really wish I had listened to my breeder.”
THIS SCENARIO ISN´T HYPOTHETICAL. IT HAS HAPPENED NUMEROUS TIMES. EVERYTHING IN YOUR HOME AND YARD CAN BE SAFE IF YOU LEARN ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF USING A DOG CRATE FOR AN UNTRAINED PUPPY. THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS THAT INTRIGUE A PUP; ELECTRIC CORDS, A TRASH CAN THAT HAS DANGEROUS MEAT BONES IN IT, AND THE LIST GOES ON AND ON.
You might look at a crate as a sort of cage, but to your dog it´s simply a bed with a door on it, or an indoor doghouse. Dogs are by nature, “den or cave animals.” Therefore, a crate is not such an unnatural setting to the dog´s basic instincts.
Bringing a new puppy into your home is quite an event, not only for the family members, but for the puppy too. Sometimes, it´s quite devastating to a puppy to discover not only how tall his new littermates (or pack members) are, but also that they have no fur on their body and they don´t walk on all fours nor do they bark as he does. So a crate becomes a very comforting place for the puppy to retreat to when he becomes overwhelmed.
By natural instinct dogs don´t want to soil their den. So, using a crate in your home to housebreak your puppy is the fastest way to ensure that your puppy will soon come to regard the entire house as his den. Crates are very portable so they can be moved from room to room for teaching this.
It´s important that you remind yourself that your pup isn´t a human being. He is a dog! He is not capable of reasoning and thinking like a human being. You have to learn to think like a dog thinks. You have to realize that even though dogs have been domesticated for centuries, they are still, quite often, governed by their natural instincts. Dogs are pack animals that are looking for pack leadership. It´s important that we establish early on to the dog that “we” are going to be that leader. So when you start crate training your puppy and they balk at the idea, don´t relent. You might have to physically put the puppy in the crate the first couple of times, but remember, if this pup was with his momma and she wanted him to go into the cave and stay there, she would be very demonstrative in her actions to make her demand known. You´re not going to bear your teeth into him like his momma might nor will you have to growl at him, but you´re not going to be swayed by his whining, barking, or scratching on the crate floor to make you give up the battle. Feel right by what you´re doing as you´re doing it for his own good. Remember that your dog won´t have to live out his life in this crate. This is for a short period of time until the dog knows what he is allowed and, is not allowed to do.
The crate is to basically get him through the early stages of his life, to include housebreaking and teething. Once good behavior has been established, which should include basic obedience as early as 4 months of age; your dog can be completely integrated into the household. He can then be trusted to not use your home as a bathroom and not use your furniture as a teething ring, By the way, when he is teething, put him in his crate with a couple of ice cubes. The cold cubes will help to freeze the gum from pain and the hardness of the ice will suffice the dog´s need to chew on something hard. You can even take a small “gumabone” and put it in the freezer for about an hour. Give it to the pup in his crate.
Don´t be surprised if when you´ve left the crate door open you discover your pup is inside taking a little “catnap”.
Just think of how nice it´s going to be not to have to scold your puppy constantly so that your relationship with him becomes basically a negative one. Instead, every time you let him out of the crate for bonding time, your relationship will become positive. Furthermore, a crate will avert you from giving up on this dog because you´re sure he´s too destructive, untrainable, and just plain stupid, only to find out that you encounter the same problems with the next dog you get.
You´ll also discover that the crate enables you to take the dog with you on family vacations. He can travel safely in the car, not panting or drooling on anyone. Oftentimes your pet will be allowed to stay in your room at the motel if you prove to the manager that you have a crate for your dog. The motel will know that this dog cannot destroy anything if he´s in a crate.
The size of the crate depends on the size of the dog. If you´re going to get a crate that will suffice the dog as an adult, you´ll need to block off a portion of the crate to housebreak the pup. If the crate is too large the puppy might decide to sleep at one end of the crate and go potty at the other end.
If you want to introduce an older dog to a crate, try putting his food in the crate (with the door open) each time you feed him. A hungry dog will accept a new situation much faster. Let the dog get used to this new object as something pleasant before you close the door with him inside. Once you do close the door, sit beside the crate for a few minutes the first few times you leave the dog closed up in the crate. Be sure it´s for short periods of time at first. You´ll be surprised how soon he comes to accept this as something comfortable and pleasant.
There are so many different uses for a crate that the list is almost endless. Just think of the professionals that you respect that use crates, Veterinarians, groomers, dog trainers, and the breeder you bought your dog from. If you´re still in doubt just ask these people about the benefits of using a crate. I guarantee you that by the third person you talk to you´ll be on your way to your local pet supply store to purchase a crate.
Besides being your pup´s second best friend, a crate will save your sanity and, it just might save your pup´s life.