Crate Training: The Good, The Bad & The Unexpected Consequences
Updated: Apr 2
Crate training is training your puppy or dog to comfortably enter and remain in a crate for a period of time. Dogs should easily enter into the crate without being forced. Once in the crate they should relax and show no signs of anxiety.
Signs of anxiety include excessive barking, whining, licking, panting, salivating or thrashing around. Crating dogs is a natural activity because dogs are natural denners. They like being in small, quiet caves, holes or enclosures. Dogs den for safety, security and comfort. We humans should take advantage of their denning behavior to teach dogs to crate. Unfortunately, some believe putting a dog in a crate is cruel and avoid teaching their dogs this incredibly important skill.Dogs are natural denners. They like being in small caves, holes or enclosures. Click To Tweet
The Good About Crate Training a Puppy
There are many advantages to crate training a puppy. First and foremost, the most important benefit to crating is expediting the process of potty training. If your puppy is crate trained from the very beginning, they should learn potty training very quickly. My new puppy was potty trained within 2 weeks because of crate training.
In addition to potty training, crates provide significant protection for your dog; this is especially true for traveling. Puppies and dogs uncrated or unrestrained in a moving vehicle are accidents waiting to happen. If an accident occurs, they become unguided missiles that sail right through the windshield. Seat belts are known to protect humans in vehicular accidents; similarly, crates and barriers protect dogs in car accidents.
Along with potty training and protection while traveling, crate training your pup avoids many unwanted behaviors. Crate training has a calming effect on dogs. In general, crate trained dogs are much less likely to show signs of separation anxiety. When provided with toys and bones, dogs learn to be comfortable in the crate and play by themselves.
Crate training is an important skill for puppies and dogs, but crating dogs for excessive periods can be extremely detrimental to their behavior and development. This is especially true for young puppies. Many puppies are crated overnight at 8-hour stretches, which is expected. Aside from overnight sleeping, puppies should not spend long stretches in a crate. Crating a puppy during an 8-hour workday is not recommended. This is a lonely existence that is extremely harmful to their developing personalities. In addition, crates should never be used to punish a dog. Crates should be viewed by dogs as happy places, not sad places.Crates should never be used to punish a dog. Click To Tweet
The Unexpected Consequences
I have worked with many dogs with some level of separation anxiety. Inevitably, these dogs were not crate-trained and protested being in a crate by whining, barking and carrying on. On the other hand, dogs that have spent inordinate amounts of time in a crate will lack in personality. One of the worst cases I have ever worked with was a gorgeous Shiba Inu who was retired from the show ring. Because of his continual confinement in a crate, he had precious little personality. He really did not know how to interact with others – humans or dogs. These are very sad situations and very difficult to reverse when the dogs are older.Crating a puppy during an 8 hour workday is not recommended. Click To Tweet
Is your dog crate trained? Do you need help with anxiety issues? These two issues are often related. We are developing an online puppy training course that will include a section on crate training. We hope to have it completed and available during the summer. But if you can’t wait that long, please contact us. Life with your pup should be fun and stress-free.
Kathryn R. Gubista, PhD is an evolutionary biologist, college biology instructor, former zookeeper, author, certified professional dog trainer with Lucky Dog Training Asheville with over 30 years of dog training and human teaching experience. The Dog’s Perspective is a training philosophy based on how dogs think, the title of the book series and our blog. For more information visit TrainingLuckyDogs@gmail.com or call 828-423-9635.