Crate training is a way to take advantage of the natural den instincts of a dog. When pups are in their home, whether it is to raise a family, get some sleep, or hide from danger, then there is comfort and solitude available to them. It is an option that is especially useful for pets that have social anxiety issues when you are away from home.
It is essential to remember that using a crate for training will not stop common canine behaviors. Some dogs feel trapped when placed in these conditions, causing them to become frustrated and exhibit even more unwanted behaviors.
The primary use for crate training is for housetraining since dogs don’t like to leave waste in their dens. It can also help them avoid chewing on furniture and following other rules of the home. You can also safely transport dogs in a vehicle when they are in a crate.
List of the Pros of Crate Training
1. Crate training can keep dogs away from harmful substances.
When your dog is in a crate, then they are not getting into trouble. There are some smart canines out there who can open refrigerator doors, figure out the pantry door handle, or even access high cabinets. Some foods, such as chocolate or alliums (garlic, onions, etc.) can be harmful to their health. There are also some chemicals you probably keep in your home to facilitate cleaning. By keeping your pup locked away from these items when you’re not home, it is easier to ensure their safety.
2. This training process can help to hone a dog’s den instincts.
Dogs love to be the guardians of their domain. If you don’t have a crate for them, then it is your home that will become their kennel. When they feel scared, anxious, or uncertain about what is happening around them, then giving them a secure place to call home can be very comforting. Short-term crate training can help dogs of any age begin to hone their den instincts so that they can feel safe without human intervention. When this advantage is present, your pup will love their special spot in your home.
3. It can help with challenging potty training issues.
Some breeds are notoriously difficult to potty train. When you have a crate that you can use for this process, then it helps to localize the animal. Their den instincts kick in, stopping them from using the bathroom at all costs. Before you reach the 4-hour mark of having them in the crate, take the pup outside so that they can relieve themselves there. Then heap lots of praise and love on them for a job well done. This process will help the canine associate the different scents with the desired behaviors.
4. You will have peace of mind when away from home.
When your dog is in a crate while you’re at work or running errands, then you know that nothing is going to be soiled but that space when you return. The furniture is going to remain intact. You have protected the animal from getting into substances that could harm them without making the pup feel uncomfortable. That means you’ll encounter less stress throughout the day as well because you know that you’re managing the anxiety that your dog could be feeling when you’re apart.
5. It can serve as a protectant when you have guests over.
A crate is useful for socialization exercises if you have a dog that isn’t keen on being around people it doesn’t know. When there are lots of children running around your home or there are guests during a meal, you can prevent triggering over-excitement by bringing your pup back to their den. It is easier to manage confusing environments or over-stimulation by taking advantage of what crate training can provide. You can even use this tool to prevent unwanted behaviors, such as begging for scraps when you’re eating at the table each night.
6. An open door allows the dog to decide when to use their crate.
Once you have your dog used to their crate, your pet will identify this spot as their den. It is a home that allows them to enjoy some security and privacy. Most pups will retreat to this spot when they don’t feel well, have too much stress to manage, or when they feel tired. You’ll want to avoid draping a sheet or blanket over the crate because that could restrict the airflow through it.
Instead of being isolated, your dog can stay with everyone instead of dealing with the frustration and loneliness that occurs when you force them outside, into the basement, or some other environment when restrictions need to happen.
7. It is easier to bring your dog along for family adventures.
The reason why many places restrict pet access is because free-roaming animals create a liability issue. When you show that your dog is crate trained, then most facilities will let you bring your pup along for the adventure. It is much easier and safer to bring canines along for a family outing, a trip, or even a long vacation when there is a crate available for transportation. Your dog will love this advantage as well because it is far better to be with people than being left behind at home.
8. Crate training can stop unwanted outdoor behaviors.
Dogs are naturally curious. Many breeds have a strong prey instinct as well. If you keep them in a fenced yard instead of a crate inside, then there can be several problematic behaviors that develop over time. Chewing, barking, and digging are the most common issues that families face when they use a dog run or their backyard area as a kennel. Some dogs can even learn how to jump your fence to escape and explore their neighborhood. Crate training helps you to avoid these problems by keeping the animal inside, making them part of your family.
List of the Cons of Crate Training
1. It can force a dog to stay in the crate for long periods of time.
The primary disadvantage of crate training for a dog is that it requires the animal to stay inside of the cage for a long time. It is not meant to be a housing substitute, but far too often it serves as a kennel instead of as a training mechanism. You should only leave a pet in the crate for four hours at maximum, and the upper limit of that time is eight hours. Anything beyond those limits could cause physical or mental harm to the pup.
Dogs don’t like being confined for extended periods of time. When they get stuck in there beyond the 8-hour maximum limit, then the animal can develop a dislike for the crate, for people, or both.
2. There can be bladder control issues for younger dogs in the crate.
You shouldn’t keep puppies under six months of age in a crate for more than 3-4 hours at one time. Even when they do their best to follow the training regimen, their bladders and bowels cannot stay under control for much longer than that time. This rule applies to adult dogs who are going through the housebreaking process as well. These pups cannot physically hold it longer, so an accident happens. This disadvantage can lead to emotions of shame and guilt, especially if you reinforce it by telling them that they are a “bad dog.”
3. It is not a suitable option for dogs with medical conditions.
If your dog is ill or has a medical condition that makes it so they cannot control their urination or defecating behaviors, then they are going to soil themselves in the crate. This outcome can lead to additional health issues arising if the animal must live in those conditions for any time. If you are not sure about how your pup will react to this situation, then it might be better to speak with your veterinarian before continuing with this process.
You will want to make sure that your dog doesn’t spend time in the crate with a leash or collar either. These items can get caught in the cage, creating a risk of strangulation that you won’t catch if you’re away from home.
4. There must be suitable ventilation for the crate.
When you start shopping for crates for your dog, you will find that some of the cage designs out there have bars that are quite close together. If you are trying to crate train a larger breed, small spatial openings may not allow enough airflow to support the animal’s breathing. When there are air restrictions in place, extreme discomfort is the only outcome that occurs. Instead of teaching your pup how to feel secure with their den instincts, this disadvantage will create the opposite outcome.
5. You must build the crate to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Crate training is only successful when the cage is correctly assembled. If you do not build it correctly, then there is a risk that it could collapse on the animal. Not only does this disadvantage create another risk for physical harm, but it also could let your pup start roaming freely around the house during a peak time of anxiety. You might find yourself coming home to chewed up shoes, shredded furniture, and other unwanted issues.
6. It can create feelings of exclusion.
When you are crate training your dog, then you’re creating a physical barrier between you and the animal. Canines are highly social animals who love to operate in packs. You’ll be part of that pack – and you’re usually the leader of it when the training work is performed correctly. If you maintain that barrier for an extended period, then it is challenging for the pup to feel like you want them. They can’t interact with you in the ways that feel natural to them. This disadvantage can lead to several unwanted behaviors over time, including aggression.
7. Crate training can lead to learned helplessness.
When you place a dog in a crate, it should never be as a consequence for their behaviors. Even gentle pups can arrive at a point where they associate specific decisions with an impending consequence that involves isolation. This process can cause them to display other unwanted behaviors, which then leads to another correction – creating a negative cycle that never ends. Repeated corrections will only confuse and frighten your pup. There are times when they protect themselves from learned helplessness by accepting what they feel is abuse, even if you feel differently. Use the crate as a home, not a punishment.
The pros and cons of crate training are a direct reflection on how this item is used in the home. When it can create a den that is safe and secure, then you can get some housetraining done while relieving many of the social anxieties that dogs have when their humans are away from home. If it becomes a place of punishment or prolonged isolation, then you can experience many more unwanted behaviors. Try to keep the time in the create to less than 3 hours, and then never go beyond eight hours to maximize your results.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.