One of the great joys of owning a dog is having them inside with you and your family. Allowing your dog inside creates so many wonderful opportunities for interaction and bonding. It also makes for a calmer more satisfied dog. I met a lovely man today who was walking his massive German Shepherd, I struck up a conversation with him (I couldn’t resist saying hello) and asked him if his dog lived inside with him? He laughed, and said…. “Yes, my dog lets me in sometimes”. The bond between them was evident, and much of it would be due to them sharing a life inside with one another.
If a dog is to live inside successfully he needs to learn many lessons. Often the best way to manage a new dog in the home is to make sure that they don’t have the opportunity to break any household rules. Using a crate to confine your new dog will ensure they learn how to behave in the home and will ultimately lead to greater freedom inside and outside the home. The crate is also useful for toilet training, developing your dogs’ separation confidence, and is portable, so if you take your dog somewhere just take the crate too.
So, what is a crate? Essentially it is a cage that you can buy at most pet shops. It can be wire, plastic or material (only recommended for non-chewing dogs). It can be set up anywhere in the home, although somewhere your dog can be close to you is a good idea. It should be used under supervision as the space in the crate is small, there should only be enough room for your dog to stand, stretch and lay down. Please don’t think it is cruel, used and introduced properly your dog will love it, and you will wonder how you ever did without one.
Introducing your dog to the crate should be a positive experience for both of you. If you feel bad about using it (lots of people do when they begin) just set it up with some treats inside and allow your dog to come and go from the crate with the door left open. You will probably find that they begin spending lots of time in it, especially if it takes the place of their indoor bed. You should always feel comfortable with any tools you use to train your dog, otherwise there will be little joy and where’s the fun in that?
A good time to lock your dog in the crate for the first time is after your dog has had a walk and been to the toilet. Please make sure you leave something to chew inside the crate for them. There should always be something tasty like a food stuffed chew toy waiting in there for them- this will develop a positive association with the crate. Never use it for punishment. Begin by leaving them locked in for a short time and slowly increase the time. For baby puppies this should be no more than an hour at a time of confinement. Each time you let your dog out of the crate it is a perfect opportunity to do some training, playing or walking. This means that when your dog is out of their crate you will be able to give them your full attention.
Anytime you cannot actively watch your dog they need to be confined in their crate. This is where the crate comes in to its own- we all lead busy lives and cannot watch our dogs all the time so the crate allows you to go about your business without fear that your dog is breaking any rules. You can also use the crate as an overnight bed, but you may need to get up during the night to let your dog out to toilet until they can last through the night.
The crate works for toilet training as dogs will not wee or poo inside the crate (unless they are desperate). Dogs are essentially clean animals- a reason we share our homes with them, they will do their best not to wee or poo in the space they sleep. Some dogs do wee and poo in their beds, however, these dogs often have another space they can go to sleep. The crate is so small it does not give your dog the choice to move elsewhere. Your dog will cry to be let out of the crate if they need to wee or poo.
This confinement will not have to last long, and soon you will be able to trust your dog to roam free inside. You will probably find that you will continue using the crate because your dog will love it.