Crate training is a useful tool pet owners can use to help keep their pets safe and comfortable while away from home, traveling, or while their pet is unsupervised. Although it may appear to be restrictive, crating helps tap into your dog’s natural preference for small, safe spaces. It can be done at any age, but most veterinarians and trainers suggest starting training early when possible. Crates can be essential for housebreaking puppies, keeping adult dogs out of trouble, and creating a comfortable space for senior pups.
Crating shouldn’t be stressful and can be enjoyable for both pets and owners. Here are our top tips on keeping your pet safe and comfortable in their crate:
Size matters here
Did you know you can choose the wrong-sized crate? Depending on how big or small your dog is, their crate could be improperly sized. Most owners know that a dog should be able to enter without crouching, stand up, and turn around in their crate. Alternatively, if the crate is too big, then this can cause some anxiety in your dog.
To determine what size crate fits your pup the best, measure your dog’s height when standing (from the top of your pet’s head to the floor) as well as their length (tip of the nose to the base of the tail). Next, add 4 inches to the dog’s measurements to determine which size would best fit your dog. You can also consult a sizing guide in a pinch.
Let’s get naked
One of the dangers that may go unnoticed by owners is your pet’s collar or harness. Although these items typically serve the purpose of keeping your pet safe, they can become strangulation hazards when a pet is crated. Tags and fasteners can get caught between bars. If you’re still thinking of putting a collar on your dog while they’re crated, invest in breakaway collars that can easily detach if part of the collar gets stuck.
No kids allowed club
It’s important to note that a crate serves as your dog’s bedroom. Allowing children to annoy a dog that is currently being crated can cause a lot of unnecessary stress on your pet. Teach your human children to respect the space like your pup’s bedroom. Strategically place the crate in a quieter space in the house to keep curious kiddos away from your dog’s crib and ensure your pet’s space is as cozy as it is safe.
Crate time is quality time
Crate training is typically not an overnight success story. It will take time and patience to build trust with your pup to train them to step foot in a crate. Slowly build training skills over time. Consider following a short training plan to develop your pup’s trust.
A simple training plan could look something like this: Have your pet enter the crate with a treat. Once they’re able to calmly enter the crate, try closing the door. Next, leave your pet in their crate for a minute or two, and then try leaving the room. Slowly start adding extra minutes and only allow your pup to exit the crate when they have calmed. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself when training your dog. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take a minute or two to reset and calm yourself. You will do your pup no favors by becoming upset during training.
Food is a great way to motivate your pet to feel comfortable in their crate. A great way to crate train is by feeding your pet in their crate at breakfast and dinner. They will begin to associate the crate with positive things like grabbing a bite or quenching their thirst.
Have a pup that tends to spill the contents of their bowls every time they crate? Invest in clip-on bowls that can easily attach to the side of their crate. This will prevent your pup from accidentally knocking over their food and water while you’re away.
An enriching experience
If you’re worried about your dog getting bored in their crate, try adding some fun puzzles, games, or toys to spice up their space. Some of our favorite crate treats are:
Frozen peanut butter KONG toys
Interactive puzzle toys
Durable chew toys
Snuggle puppy (for puppies)
It is not recommended to leave rawhide or nylon chew bones in the crate as they can be a choking hazard. Balls and rope toys can break easily as well so keeping these items away from your pet’s crate helps promote a safe environment.
Covering your crate
Remember, dogs enjoy wide open spaces to run and play during the day, but when it’s time to wind down, smaller spaces will often be more tempting. Some dogs may feel exposed when crated so covering is a great alternative. Take an old sheet and cover all the sides of the crate leaving the door uncovered. This is a cheap and easy way to give your dog a more secure space without breaking the bank.
Crates provide a safe, comfortable environment for your pet when you are away from home. They are a useful tool for pet parents as well as our beloved four-legged friends. Whether you’re keeping your pet out of trouble or preparing them to be the travel buddy of your dreams, crating is a great way to give your pup the space they need while giving you peace of mind.