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A crate should be your dog's den, not just a cage

If you feel bad about crating your dog you’re not alone. Many think their pets view their crates as a cage and use them as a form of punishment. Surprisingly, crates can be looked at as a safe and cozy haven for your dog if introduced properly. And since they serve many purposes for the dog owner, it’s best to make sure your dog views it this way from the very beginning.

It only makes sense that dogs view their crate as a safe place. After all, they are descendants of wolves who are den animals by nature. Wolves seek out dark, snug places to rest and feed their young. Your dog will come to love his crate too as a place to take long, snug naps tucked away from the hectic noises of the house.

A crate can also be useful when house breaking your puppy as they normally won’t eliminate and sleep in the same location. Crating can also help prevent chewing on furniture when you’re away and also provides an easy means for transporting your pet.

Getting your dog to love her crate takes a little time. The key is to introduce it gradually and use lots of treats and praise. You can start by tossing a few treats into the crate and allowing the dog to go in and enjoy them. Repeat this several times and praise the dog each time. Eventually start to close the door for 30 seconds while she eats her treats. If she remains calm, give lots of praise. Gradually increase the time the door is closed until you work up to it being closed for one hour.

If your dog whines or barks while in the crate, do not reward him with attention, giving treats or opening the door. Wait until he is quiet to praise or release him. Practice leaving the room for longer periods of time and eventually leave the house for an hour or two, putting him in the crate 15 minutes before your departure.

Keep the crate close to the family and even consider moving it or having a second one in your bedroom for night time sleeping. The point is to make sure you’re not just crating your dog when you leave so he doesn’t associate it with separation. It’s especially important to never use the crate as a form of punishment.

When purchasing a crate make sure it’s compact but large enough for your dog to stand, turn around and lie down without being cramped.

If the crate’s too large, your dog may choose to eliminate in a corner and it won’t be that cozy, protective environment she craves. Plastic crates permitted by airlines are good options because they provide a darker, more den-like cabin for your dog. If you have a puppy, use a smaller crate to start with or fill part of a larger crate with a barrier.

If you’ve adopted a grown dog from a shelter or one not accustomed to crates, they may resist crating at first. They will eventually adapt just like a puppy but it may take a little more time and you may need to go a little slower with the training.

Giving your dog something to chew on while in the crate is a good idea as well as a towel or blanket to add a sense of comfort and security. Just remember to go at your dog’s own pace when training and don’t allow other pets or children to bother him while he’s in his crate. Keep the crate clean and cozy and your pet will come to appreciate his own little den in no time.

Dr. Patrick L. Paradis is a veterinarian and the owner of Woodburn Pet Hospital now offering advanced laser therapy. He has been practicing in Woodburn for over 26 years and specializes in small animal general medicine and surgery, canine dentistry and orthopedic surgery. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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