Crating Your Dog

Remember, your ultimate goal in using the crate is to produce an easily house-trained dog and one who can be trusted in the house.

Therefore, you should consider the use of a crate for a dog to be temporary. You are always working toward the time when you do not need to use a crate extensively.

With house-training, it is only a matter of time for the pup to outgrow the need for a crate. As puppies get older, they will naturally develop ways of telling you that they need to go (but probably not before about four to six months, so be patient), especially if you encourage this.

As this starts to develop, you can decrease the crate usage. Always keep a close eye on your pup — the trouble you take now will pay big dividends later. If you need to, put a leash on your pup and attach it to your waist. That keeps the pup from wandering off into trouble. By the time your puppy is about 6–8 months old, they should be able to sleep through the night either in an open crate or a dog bed.

Many breeds, especially the larger and more active ones, will need to be crated during their adolescence until they can be trusted in the home, if you cannot leave them outside in the yard while you are gone. There are several things you need to keep in mind.

The first is that this type of crating is never to be a permanent arrangement except for those rare cases where the dog proves completely unreliable. While this does happen, it’s more common for the dog to be sufficiently mature by the time they are two or so to be left alone in the house.

To make the transition between keeping your dog in the crate and leaving them out when you are at work, start preparing your dog on weekends. Leave them in your house for an hour and then come back. Maybe it needs to be 15 minutes. Whatever. Find the time that works, and make a habit of leaving them unsupervised in the house for that long. Be sure to praise them when you come back. Leave the crate open — available, but open — while you are gone. When you know the dog is reliable for this period of time, gradually add 15- to 30-minute increments to the dog’s “safe time.” Don’t be surprised if this takes months or even a year.

Now, there are some dogs who are never reliable when left inside. This might include dogs who were rescued, dogs with separation anxiety, dogs who destroy things indiscriminately, or who mark or otherwise eliminate in the house.

Does Everyone Use a Crate?

Of course not. There are many who think crates are cruel and will not use them. People in Europe tend not to use them. People who have not heard of using them won’t generally use them. If you have an outside yard with a fence or a secure kennel, you many not need to use them.

Crates are extremely useful. But they are not the only means to achieve house-training or safety in the house or car. They are, in the opinion of many, one of the best and easiest ways of doing so, with many side benefits.

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