Why Crate Train?
Crate training is an essential behaviour to train for every pet. There are so many benefits to your pet having a safe place, where they feel happy and relaxed,that you can send them to with a quick command. I talk about crate training with all of my puppy clients so I may as well share the love with you.
I love crate training and it is one of the first things I do with a new puppy or kitten when I get them home (after taking a huge number of photos obviously). Crate Training is simply teaching your furry friend to go into a ‘crate’ on command and love being in there. It’s about giving your pet a safe and secure ‘home’ that you can take anywhere with you, so they always have somewhere they can go and feel relaxed and comfortable.
Our dog Izzy is the perfect example of the benefits of Crate Training. Izzy is a sensitive soul and can get quite nervous in new situations or when trying out new behaviours. Lucky Izzy LOVES her crate. It is her safe home away from home. We take it everywhere with us and if Izzy is every stressed out, or tired or over stimulated she will hop into her crate and settle down and relax immediately.
This also helps with training, Izzy is much more confident and willing to try out new behaviours or situations if her crate is there, giving her a safe space to go to if it all becomes to much for her. It is her way of communicating with us that she needs a break from what we are working on. Although the aim is always to keep below that level of stress we are human after all and it keeps us honest.
While this example gives you an idea of how wonderful crate training can be, there are a host of other great benefits like:
- After surgery my dogs are happy to relax in their crate during recovery, making it so much easier to keep them calm for the crucial first few days and ensure that they heal by primary intention.
- When we go to competitions, camping or to visit friends I can take my dogs knowing that I have a safe and secure place to keep them if my attention is needed elsewhere. I can also sleep knowing that they are safely contained.
- A cat who is happy and relaxed in its travel crate is happier and relaxed when it arrives to see me at a consult, and is easy to catch if you need to evacuate due to an emergency.
- Being able to quickly send my dogs to their crates when a glass or tablet is dropped at home makes the clean up or search much less stressful for the humans.
- Problems with resource guarding of food or toys can be contained to the pets crate while other solutions are worked on, making the house safer for everyone in the meantime.
- Separation of tiny humans when supervision is not possible eliminates the risk of preventible bites or injuries.
- If there is danger present, a crate is a quick way to contain your pets in a safe place so that you can deal with the situation, while knowing exactly where they are if you need to grab them and leave (especially important with cats).
There are some important rules to keep in mind to make crate training fun and effective for your furry friend.
- First, the crate is never a punishment
The crate is not the place to put a pet who has been naughty. It is a fun and safe place to ensure that your pet cannot have accidents, access dangerous foods or toxins while you are not supervising. If they often get crated as punishment it will take away a lot of the positive value of the crate.
- Second, the crate is always a safe place
The crate is their safe space, their den, and they should not be disturbed while in there without good reason. This is particularly important if you have small children or guests around.
- Third, the crate is not for long term containment
Putting your pet in their crate for hours at a time every days isn’t fair on your pet and makes the crate more like a prison than a safe den.
- Fourth the crate isn’t just for trips to the vet.
Cats in particular often only get popped in their crate when they are heading off to the vet. Even if nothing scary actually happens at the vet, its still an overwhelming experience, isn’t really the fun and rewarding experiences we want them to associate with their crates.
So how do you manage to make their crate your pet’s favourite place? This article’s already gotten quite long, so we’ll be covering that next time.