Last week Robin and I were in Alpharetta with a new Home Dog Training client. His Catahoula, named Larry, was just turning five months old and he thought it was time for training. Larry was a great dog to work with and picked up on all the obedience commands pretty easily. We even got him waling on the leash without pulling and waiting politely before coming inside after the walk. Our client was very pleased with the results and excited to start practicing with Larry. As we were finishing up, he mentioned that he put Larry in a crate when he was away from the house. Larry had no problem with the crate and appeared to really like being in it. He said that some of his neighbors thought it was horrible that he ever put his Catahoula in a crate and told him Larry should be able to wander all the time. Even though Larry seemed to love his crate and it was a big help when he had go be gone from the house, should he be crating Larry?
I told our client that we have trained over 5,000 dogs and have 5 dogs of our own. We love the ability to use the crate and our dogs love the opportunity to be in their crates. The reason is quite simple. Dogs (canines) naturally see the world at three singular levels of safety and protection. Initially, and most important, is their den. This is the place that, if they feel threatened or unsure, they can retreat to a place that is always safe. This is their den, their safe place. The lions, tigers, and bears can NEVER get them in there.
All dogs are different so some dogs naturally gravitate towards a crate and others need to be trained to understand the importance of the crate. The “unsure” dogs might have come from pet stores or puppy mills where the crate was used for punishment or containment instead of safety and reward. They might have been inappropriately introduced to the crate as a “time out place” and physically thrown into the crate while their master was yelling and screaming. The crate might have been kept in the garage or outside in the far corner of the yard where they felt ostracized from the rest of the pack.
If we have clients that have dogs that are afraid of the crate, we have a great program that can naturally and peacefully solve the issue. We tell them to do the following:
- The crate is a fun place. We ask our client to put their dog’s toys in the crate or feed him in the crate. They shouldn’t close the crate door at first. Let their dog wander in and out so that he will get the feeling that “this is a happy and safe place to be”.
- Keep the crate in the middle of the family activity. The crate should be in the middle of the family activity all the time. Our client’s dog can be in the crate and the rest of the pack is there too. This will remove any appearance of being ostracized by being in the crate.
- Practice opening and closing the door to the crate. The dog should feel fine if the door is open or closed. This can be easily accomplished by removing the fact that closing the door means anything. Open the door for a while and then close it. Do this at different times and don’t make a big deal of it.
- Have him alone in the crate for a little bit. Leave the room or be somewhere he can’t see you for a moment while he is in the crate. This will help him understand that the crate is a safe place even if you aren’t there. It is also a critical part of separation anxiety training.
- Play and “be with” him while he is in the crate. Your dog shouldn’t feel like “bubble boy” while he is in the crate. Sit next to the crate and play and talk with him while the door is open and closed. This will further disengage the crate as a possible inappropriate enclosure.
Follow these suggestions and you will be long on your way to have a dog that loves his crate and a place he wants to visit!
We home you will call us at (770) 718-7704 with any dog training or dog safety questions. We have many great dog training articles at Best Dog Trainers Alpharetta Georgia. You can find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Alpharetta Georgia.