Dear Miss Behavin’: We just got a new dog and have been hearing a lot of talk about crate training. It’s not something we did with previous dogs, but it seems like it’s all the rage now. Should we be doing this with our dog?
There are many reasons that crate training has become more commonplace. For puppies, crates can be valuable for housetraining and setting a routine. If you have to leave a young puppy home alone for any amount of time, invest in an x-pen so you can block off a puppy-proofed area of the home with their crate, water bowl, a few chew toys and a bathroom area. Adult dogs that are crate trained can also easily be separated during feeding time for multiple dogs and will be happier with a place of their own to curl up when stressed or nervous. Senior dogs that may stay overnight at the vet from time to time might also be less stressed if they are comfortable in crates already.
Fabric crates tend to feel more enclosed, while wire crates feel more open. If you’re not sure which one your dog will like, a wire crate with a cover or blanket draped over it is a great option. Plastic crates are typically the safest for travel, though because they’re light and easy to clean, are also a popular choice.
If you decide you’d like to crate train your dog, take it slow and make it fun! Start with offering a tasty chew or their favorite treat in the crate with the door open. Gradually work your way up to closing the door for short intervals, then to leaving for longer periods of time. Keep in mind that even an adult dog ideally won’t be crated for too long. Blocking off a room in the house where you can leave the dog with their crate and toys can be a good option for longer outings. If you feel like you need more help, the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA offers 1:1 consultations over the phone and in person.