If you know someone who has a new puppy, you’ve probably heard the term “dog crate” bandied about, but what is it, exactly? Owners have probably been trying new ways of dog training since dogs were domesticated. Some of the methods have been more successful than others. The dog crate method is a recent materialization that some tout as incredibly helpful in dog training.
What is a dog crate? A dog crate is, according to the Humane Society of the United States, a room with a view. Dog crates look like large cages. They’re made of polished or coated metal, and some come with fancy details like furniture grade wood. You can pay just about as much or as little as you’ll like in purchasing a dog crate, as so many variations exist.
What is the purpose of a dog crate? The purpose of a dog crate is for training, refuge, safe transportation and a spot for a nap. The theory is that a dog is still wild at heart and all dogs appreciate the den-like crate. It is part of their natural instincts. The main function of a crate is for house-training. Dogs don’t like to sleep or sit in waste, so if they’re confined to the crate for short periods of time and given access to the proper place to go, they’ll learn to become house-trained fairly easily. Crates are also useful for other training. Limiting access to household areas or items like furniture or rugs can help the dog understand what rules you’re trying to teach him.
Crate caveats. Crates should be used judiciously. Simply shutting the dog in the crate for long periods of time defeats the purpose of a comfy and cozy den in which the dog can feel safe. Crates are not magic. It takes work to train a dog to behave like the loving family pet you desire. Don’t leave your dog in the crate too long. Dogs need exercise and freedom. Puppies should only be crated for a net of three to four hours in total during the day. Your dog should only be crated until the lessons and rules of the house are learned. At that point, your dog should be allowed to move about freely with the crate accessible for naps and rest.