Crates are one of the most effective training tools available today. While a crate may appear cruelly confining to some people, they are actually humane devices that control a puppy’s movements until it has achieved the mental maturity to live in the house without endangering itself or being destructive. If you are deciding whether to use a crate for your dog, here are some compelling arguments for it.
Crates: A Scheduling Tool
A crate is a tool that can be used and misused. You cannot expect a small puppy to “hold it” forever; thus you must take her out regularly. A good rule of thumb is the number of months in age plus one is the number of hours that the puppy can be in the crate without having to go pee. So, if your dog is 3 months old, she can be expected to stay in the crate for 4 hours, give or take.
Crates only work with a good schedule in place. In the beginning, your puppy should be able to depend on getting up at a certain hour, being taken out at the same times every day and fed at the same times every day. It should get regular walks and playtime. Thus, when in the crate and ignored once its walks/pee breaks are done, the puppy learns that certain times are for playing/eliminating/sleeping or resting.
Why do we schedule? Because it establishes regular expectations. Much like children, puppies thrive when they know exactly what to expect during the day. Also, having a puppy who settles down quickly after playtime or walks or pee breaks is essential to the owner’s mental stability.
Crates: Behavioural Control
A puppy coming into the household at 8-10 weeks, has no self control. She doesn’t know that electrical wires are dangerous, peeing on the carpet is bad or that chewing on your expensive running shoes is not recommended. She will learn all these things, but at this stage, she is incapable of understanding – even with a scolding.
What a crate does is provide her with a safe environment where she can chew on her toys, eat, drink and sleep. It prevents her from getting into trouble when you can’t be around to watch her. It prevents her from pooping in areas you weren’t aware she could get into – until the smell alerted you. It helps you train her quickly that outside is the place to pee and poop and inside is her home; not to be eliminated in.
Crates: “Unnatural” but Humane
Some people might view this as cramping their dog’s style – it’s “not natural”. Dogs in houses are “not natural”. Dogs being bred into the shapes and temperaments they have today are “not natural”. Dogs being expected to conform to human society is “not natural”.
However, this is the situation we have today and in order to quickly and easily introduce our dogs to our human world and make the introduction work, we need to control their behavior until we can teach them that it is in their best interests to control it themselves.
The humble crate is a tool that you can use to modify your dog’s behavior and control its actions until it is mature enough for house training to stick. Crates are a safe, portable alternative to constantly having to watch your puppy, cleaning up messes and replacing chewed-up items. Use a crate and your relationship with your dog will be richer and less stressful.