Crate training your dog at an early age is quite important, and is not something that should be overlooked

Crate training your dog at an early age is quite important, and is not something that should be overlooked.  Once trained though, your dog will enjoy the long term benefits of having a safe refuge.

Why Crate Train Your Dog?

Among wolves and wild dogs of today, living in caves is something that comes naturally.  Dens provide warmth, security, shelter, and protection against the elements and external enemies.  Of course these are not perils that the modern domesticated dog has to face, but a dog’s primal instincts will still dictate that the cave like environment a crate provides is a safe place. 

As living in a crate will come naturally to your dog, once crate trained, you can actually rely on your dog to keep his or her crate clean and dry.  Crate training your puppy early will also help with toilet training your dog, as pups in the wild defecate only just outside their dens.

Dogs can be made to follow a schedule and a routine, crate training your puppy provides the kind of stability your puppy needs to get used to your schedule.  Designating a crate as the sleep area for your puppy, will allow your puppy to adapt to more and more complicated routines that you may want him or her to adhere to on a regular basis.

While crate training is relatively straightforward, it still needs to be done right, there are a lot of details you need to get right to ensure that the training goes as smoothly as possible:

What is the best crate to get?

Pet crates come in all shapes, sizes, colors and materials.  Size of course should be your primary consideration, you want a crate that your dog can stand up and turn around in.  You can’t make it too big either though.  The idea is for your dog to feel “snug” they actually prefer it that way. 

Your next consideration is your lifestyle, and by extension your dog’s.  Do you travel a lot?  If so, will you be taking your dog with you often?  If you travel, you may want one of the pricier crates that are light, sturdy but portable.  You may want a more robust and permanent crate if you don’t plan to take your dog around too much. 

The location of your crate is also important, you want it in a place that people frequent, dogs love people after all, and it will make your dog that much more comfortable in a crate if you can place it close to where people hang out.

How to Successfully Crate Train your Dog:

The first thing to remember is that a crate is by no means a prison or a way to confine your dog.  Being in a crate should be a positive experience for a dog, a dog should find refuge and security in a crate, your dog must never come to regard a crate as a prison, you should never keep a dog confined in a crate for several hours at a time, this practice is quite inhumane, and doing so habitually will make your dog quite prone to violent behavior even at an early age.

Still, it isn’t really possible to crate train a dog without keeping him locked up a lot during the process.  Puppies shouldn’t be kept in crates for more than 2 hours, they can’t hold their urine that long, and if you keep them confined that long, they are likely to “go” in the crate.  Older dogs also have similar issues.  Such an incident could really derail your efforts, as you’ll have a tougher time getting your dog “attached” to the crate. 

When you first start getting your dog used to the idea of being locked in a crate, he won’t like it one bit.  There will be incessant barking, whimpering and scratching to get out.  Have patience, and be around as much as you can, reward your dog with treats for entering the crate, and assure your pet that this is not a punishment, by talking to him in an assuring voice while he is confined.  Remember though never to keep your dog holed up for days at a time, this breeds all kinds of destructive and anti-social behavior.

Never use the crate as a form of punishment.  The whole idea for crate training is to give your dog a safe refuge, punishing a dog by putting it in a crate completely contradicts that.  The dog will come to dread the crate and resent you.   Crating can be a big positive, especially if you travel a lot and you want to take your dog along.  It is also one of the best aids you can have for toilet training.

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