Treatment Type: Training Techniques
Rated for: Golden Retriever
San Clemente, California, United States
Posted Jan. 7, 2019
Crate training is a must for various reasons. A crate is the safest place to keep your pet while you are away, during an injury a pet needs to be kept in a safe location while he/she recovers, traveling on plane or other means might require you to use a crate, helps with potty training, and helps with management of many different behavioral problems.
Some people worry about crates being cruel. Crates are only cruel if you are leaving the dog in there for more than four hours without a bathroom break or if the dog is hurting himself inside the crate in a panic. If your worry about your dog sitting around, just remember that your loose dog probably spends most of the time you are away doing nothing. If he/she is a highly active dog who cannot stand to be in a crate, he/she is also the kind of dog who will destroy your home and backyard out of boredom. If that is the case, you might need to put the dog into daycare.
There are many different types of crates. I have used three different types. My favorite crate is the wire crates that allow the dog to see out of them. I prefer these because they are sturdy and stand up to a lot of abuse by large dogs, and they look ok in the home.
Some dog’s prefer the plastic crates that only have the wire doors. The plastic crates can help dogs that are shy and might be fearful because it creates a kind of “den” where they can escape.
The other crate that I use often is a travel crate. It is made of fabric and not sturdy. A dog could tear through the fabric if motivated. I would never put a dog that has not already been crate trained in one, but they are very convenient to travel with because they are light and easy to carry.
If using the crate for potty training, buy a crate that will fit the adult dog. This means your dog should be able to stand and turn around comfortably in the crate. While the puppy grows, use a divider to keep him/her from having extra room. The crate works for potty training because dogs do not like sitting in their own feces. If there is room to poop and lie down elsewhere, your puppy might not wait on you. My golden retriever was very easy to potty train. He hates being anywhere near his poo. He pooped once in his crate and it was because the person watching him was inexperienced and did not remember to take him out after giving him food.
Some dogs are less picky or might have had a breeder that forced them to sit in their filth as puppies. These dogs are harder to train. Be patient. You are going to have to take out this dog often. Eventually, he/she will get better. I worked with a smaller dog that did not seem to be bothered by peeing in his bed. We removed the blanket from his crate. Without something to soak up the pee, the dog no longer wanted to go in his crate.
Crates are safe places for your pet when you cannot be there or are busy and cannot monitor your pet. They are an important tool to manage a variety of destructive behaviors, but your dog should not be in a crate all day.
When introducing a crate to a dog, do not immediately lock them inside. I spent a few days allowing my puppy to run in and out of the crate. I put food and toys inside. I crawled inside the crate and played with him. I rewarded him for going into the crate on his own. The first time I locked him in there, I did not do it for a long period of time. Depending on the sensitivity and background of your pet, it might take time to get your dog comfortable with the crate. Do not reward crying behaviors. Wait for the dog to be quiet before letting him out. If the dog is really upset, it might need to be a short break in the whining that you capitalize on and release him/her quick.
If your dog has an anxiety issue that causes him to hurt himself inside a crate, you need to work with your veterinarian and a trainer. This dog is living with a lot of anxiety that is difficult for him/her. The dog needs some help gaining confidence.