A common question we get at the clinic is whether it is ideal to crate train a puppy. Many people have common misconceptions about crates, such as that a crate is a place that dogs fear, when really, a crate can be the place where your dog feels safest and in their own domain. Not only this, but crate training has been proven to be an effective tool in managing separation anxiety (which is common in pups and with many rescued animals). For certain dogs that tend to get destructive, crates keep them in a safe place.
Training your dog to get used to the crate (especially if they’re older and a bit stuck in their ways) may prove to be the most difficult of the whole process.Choosing the right crate should be easy after reading this guide though!
First, select a crate that is big enough for your dog to be able to comfortably turn around in, but nothing excessively large for their size. If you are crate training your puppy, stick to this same rule, but alter the crate to more comfortably fit a puppy if you are using a crate large enough for their fully-grown size (i.e. make use of dividers to adjust to their growth).
If your dog is a more laid-back and well trained animal, a soft sided kennel may be the best option for you. Rowdy dogs who are poorly trained, still have accidents and suffer from separation anxiety would not be a good match for this vinyl enclosure, as it is easier to break free from, and harder to clean. Trusting your animal is well behaved is a must if you purchase one of these.
Hard sided kennels are ideal for the more nervous, anxious dogs with more destructive tendencies, and for puppies who are still being house trained. They are sturdier and easier to clean. This variety of kennels is also ideal for the frequent flier dog, as this is the kennel most commonly accepting on airlines for transporting animals.
Another option for house-training puppies who are still accident prone is to get a kennel with a moat indentation that collects all liquids in one part of the kennel so your pooch doesn’t have to lie in their own waste. Certainly, cleaning a dirty kennel is easier than cleaning a dirty puppy! Additionally, when adjusting to the crate (especially with puppies), adding fancy and sometimes expensive dog begs into the kennel should be saved for when they are better crate-trained. Instead, use a towel that is easy to clean. Some animals are comforted by placing a towel or blanket on top of the crate to make a great place to curl up and fall asleep.
Be sure to make being in a kennel as stimulating and fun as possible, without putting them in danger of choking or ingesting something they shouldn’t. Saving special food treats only for the crate can help increase your pooch’s eagerness to go inside (peanut butter in a Kong is always a hit!). Avoid feeding your dog full meals in the crate and avoid keeping water inside the crate when you are not home.