Are dog crates a useful tool to aid with toilet training in puppies and to provide a safe space, or are they unnecessary accessories that humans have begun to rely too heavily on?
Posted: 07 September 2018
Crating began as a way for people to housetrain puppies. And, when used appropriately, using a crate can aid puppies with toilet training, keep them out of harm’s way, and help them to learn to be left alone for a short time. But, once out of puppyhood, is there still a need for them?
In terms of older dogs, the RSPCA states: “Adult dogs that have been successfully trained to have a positive association with their crate and view it as their safe haven are normally quite happy to be left for about three hours.”
However, the charity also warns against ever using a crate as a form of punishment, stating: “Your dog’s crate should be a place where he/she feels secure, safe and comfortable. Crates must never be used as a punishment or to prevent unwanted behaviours such as destruction of furniture.”
Unwanted behaviours are something that you and your dog have to work through together, enlisting expert help if required. The RSPCA advises: “If you are concerned about your dog or puppy’s behaviour you should contact your vet who will be able to refer you to a clinical animal behaviourist if necessary.”
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has a different view of crating, except when required for recovery from surgery or for safe transportation. It views crating as: “A popular ‘convenience practice’ that deprives dogs of the opportunity to fulfill some of their most basic needs, such as the freedom to walk around, the opportunity to relieve themselves, and the ability to stretch out and relax.” The organisation also believes that the practice can cause behavioural problems as it: “Prevents dogs from interacting with their environment and learning how to behave in a human setting.”
Whatever your view, it’s clear is that if you’re using a crate or indoor kennel with your dog, positive reinforcement training is required to enable them to feel safe and happy spending time there. It should never be used as a ‘solution’ for behavioural problems and dogs should only be left in there for short periods – never longer than three hours.
Animal charity Blue Cross has some useful advice about training your dog to feel happy in an indoor kennel, summarised below, and a helpful video >>
The RSPCA also has Crate Training Guide that you can download here >>
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Back soon >> Helping dogs to manage spending time on their own is an important part of training as all dogs need to be left occasionally.
Sources: rspca.org.uk, bluecross.org.uk, peta.org