An indoor crate is a useful training tool for owners of dogs of any age. It can be used for house training, travel, prevention of and assistance in resolving behavioural problems and of course provides a safe and secure place to sleep.
Dogs enjoy sleeping in den like areas and in the wild will seek safe enclosed areas to rest and sleep that provide protection from the weather and a feeling of safety and security away from the hustle and bustle. An indoor crate is the equivalent for today’s domestic dog, just think of it as a home within your home!
Crate training is appropriate for any age of dog, but the earlier you begin the better. In fact you may probably find your breeder will already have your puppy familiar with a crate, which will also make the settling in period a lot less stressful for your puppy.
That’s not to say older dogs cannot be trained to use a crate. You may find that an older dog is a bit more resistant to trying out a crate but by gradually building up their confidence and with plenty of encouragement, you will soon have them accustomed to their new resting place.
The following guide will help you select the most appropriate crate for your dog and help with the introduction and use of your chosen crate.
Step One - What size crate do I need?
You need to consider the size and breed of your dog and then select a crate that will accommodate your dog as an adult. Even if you are selecting a crate for a puppy, it is a worthwhile investment to choose a crate that will be large enough to accommodate your puppy as they grow into a full size adult dog. Adjustable divider panels are available upon request for particular crates, which help adjust the size of a crate as your puppy grows. Your dog should be able to comfortably walk in, turn around and lie down out stretched in the crate, with space to spare. They should also be able to stand up comfortably, stretch and sit up straight without being cramped. Remember, a crate should be large enough for your dog to rest comfortably in without being restricted.
Crates come in various shapes, sizes and designs. Crate doors, dependant upon the manufacturer, maybe positioned on the end or side panels with some crates including both, so select a crate which best fits both your and your dog’s needs. Most crates have removable metal or plastic trays at the base, which can be easily removed and cleaned.
Step Two - Where should the crate be positioned?
Once you have selected the correct type of indoor crate, it’s time to select an appropriate location in your home. When choosing where to put your crate you should consider the following:
Choose a draft free area.
Choose an area away from radiators, direct heat and direct sunlight.
Select an area away from doors and windows.
Select an area where your dog feels included within the family, but provides an area where they can rest without being disturbed.
Having several crates at home allows your dog to choose different places in which to rest and reduces the need to move the crate, for example if your dog sleeps upstairs at night.
Step Three – How do I use the crate?
Once you’ve chosen a suitable location you are ready to erect your crate. Most crates can be erected and dismantled in seconds and fold flat for easy carriage and storage. It’s recommended the first time you erect the crate, you do so without the dog being present to ensure a good association from the beginning. The idea of providing a safe and secure den area can be enhanced by partly covering the top third of the crate with a blanket to enhance the den like feeling of security.
Place suitable bedding into the crate to make it a warm, comfortable and inviting place for your dog. We’ve a huge selection of crate mats to choose from in store. Introducing a dog to the crate should be a gradual process. Leave the door open and place some tasty treats inside, so when your dog explores they are rewarded for their efforts. Once they are comfortable going in and out of the crate, you can begin to feed your dog each mealtime in the crate to further strengthen the good association.
It’s important to spend time with your dog, getting them used to the crate so it becomes a secure, safe haven for them.
Encourage your dog to rest in the crate whilst you sit beside them, offering reassurance and comfort until they become familiar with the new resting place.
Once your dog is comfortable with using the crate, begin closing the door for short periods whilst staying with your dog, before slowly introducing unsupervised periods.
Remove all leads, collars and tags from your dog when using the indoor crate.
Do not leave your dog unsupervised for a long period.
Never leave your dog alone with toys or items likely to cause injury.
Ensure your dog is content when using an indoor crate.
The use of an indoor crate is one of the most effective ways of house training dogs and this applies to puppies, adults and rescue dogs. It is a dog’s natural instinct to keep the place where they rest and sleep as clean as possible and by using an indoor crate you will reduce the likelihood of accidents indoors. This will teach your dog the correct area to relieve itself in from the beginning without the need for newspaper, which can ultimately slow down the house training process. Puppy Pads can however be a useful stop gap solution to soak up any accidents during the training process.
Dogs need to relieve themselves at regular intervals, for example after sleep, play and meal times. By using a crate you can introduce a good house training routine from the beginning. A dog will indicate when it needs to relieve itself by becoming restless, circling, whining or sniffing the ground. As soon as you notice these indicators, take the dog to the relief area, use a ‘cue’ word such as ‘Be Quick’ to encourage it to relieve itself, then praise and reward your dog for relieving itself in the correct place. This routine will soon teach your dog, the correct place in which to relieve itself.
In the early days of owning a new dog, it is important to keep the crate close to the bedroom at night so you are alerted to any indication that the dog may need to go outside. This inconvenience at night should only be short lived with an adult dog and by the time a puppy is 4-5 months old, they should be well on the way to being fully house trained. To assist with training it’s important to provide your dog with a good quality diet and a regular feeding pattern, in order to develop a good relief routine.
Once your dog is able to hold himself or herself regularly overnight, you can if desired begin to move the indoor crate towards the room where you would like your dog to ultimately sleep.