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Puppy Crate: A Cosy Sanctuary or a Confined Prison? 

The perception of a puppy crate as either a cosy sanctuary or a confining prison depends on one’s perspective and how it is utilised. Dogs have an innate denning instinct and often seek out safe and enclosed spaces for their rest. In the wild, a den provides security, allowing them to sleep without the fear of becoming someone else’s meal.

When introduced to a puppy crate at a young age, dogs can view it as a refuge away from the chaos of the household, a safe place for uninterrupted sleep and relaxation. Just like wild dogs, domestic dogs spend a significant amount of time resting, sometimes up to 16 hours a day. Therefore, providing them with snug quarters aligns with their natural needs.  However, it’s important to note that while crates can be beneficial, they should not interfere with other essential aspects of a dog’s life. Dogs are very social animals and require interaction with other dogs or people. They also need exercise, mental stimulation, and opportunities for relieving themselves appropriately. Excessive crate time will have negative consequences on a dog’s well-being and remember.  When your pal chooses to go to go to  its crate is time for the kids to leave pup or dog in peace. 

Choosing the right crate is crucial. Crates come in various sizes and materials, with plastic and collapsible metal wire crates being the most common options. Both types can serve as den-like sleeping quarters and training tools when appropriately sized. Adding a blanket or towel over the top and the same in the crate’s bottom provides warmth and comfort, while fleece-covered foam dog beds offer an even cosier experience, although they may not be suitable for destructive pups.

Plastic crates are ideal for smaller breeds as they are compact and can be used in cars. They can also double as high-sided doggie beds once the dog is fully housetrained. On the other hand, collapsible metal crates are more practical for larger breeds, as they can be sectioned off during housetraining and are easier to store. Savic is a reputable brand recommended by Acres 4 Dogs, known for its collapsible feature and removable bottom tray, making cleaning easier.  If, however air travel is in the future, an approved hard-sided plastic crate is necessary.

Crates are invaluable tools for housetraining. When appropriately sized, they provide dogs with comfortable bedrooms, instinctively driving them to keep the area clean. A dog should have enough space to stand, lie down, and turn around, but not extra room for a bathroom. After leaving the crate, the dog will likely need to relieve itself, presenting an excellent opportunity for housetraining reinforcement. Promptly taking the dog outdoors after crate time allows for positive reinforcement with a walk, playtime, or treats.

When used correctly, crates can contribute to a puppy never having accidents inside the house. For older dogs with poor bladder control, covering the crate mat or bed with an easy-to-clean cover protects against mould and ensures a clean and comfortable space for the dog.

Crates are also great facilitators for chew toy habits. Providing dogs with food-stuffed chew toys, such as Kong or Nylabone toys or drilled carrots filled with wholesome fillings, keeps them mentally and physically stimulated. These activities simulate hunting and can be combined with training exercises and playtime to tire out the puppy before a nap.

Contrary to popular belief, crates can be used for time-outs without causing dogs to develop a fear or dislike of them. Just as children can be sent to their rooms consequently without hating their rooms, dogs can be placed in their crates for short periods during time-outs. Your dog will only develop fear or aversion towards the crate if negative experiences occur while they are inside. Therefore, it is crucial never to scold or reprimand them while they are in the crate. Time-outs should be brief, ranging from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Remember to provide a fresh start to your furry friend, offering them a clean slate once they have completed their time-out. Holding grudges is not beneficial for their well-being or the training process.

Crates can also assist with reducing  problematic situations. For instance, crating your pup with a stuffed chewtoy when the doorbell rings ensures they are  physically unable to jump on the pizza delivery person. This approach is useful when you’re not ready for a formal training session at that particular moment. With young puppies, crates can be used to manage anticipated problems like destructive chewing while you have to make that work call, nipping at children, and house soiling when supervision is limited. Although they may not be actively learning desired behaviours while crated, they are prevented from reinforcing undesirable habits.

Determining the appropriate duration for crating depends on the dog’s social and physical needs when they are not confined. As a general guideline, a dog can be crated overnight and for up to a third of their waking day if their requirements for socialisation and exercise are fulfilled outside the crate. However, young puppies need more frequent naps and opportunities to relieve themselves compared to adult dogs.

A useful rule of thumb for estimating how long a puppy can wait before needing a bathroom break is to consider the number of months old they are, plus one. For example, a three-month-old puppy can usually manage for about four hours before needing a potty break. Overnight, they can typically hold it a bit longer, usually about 1.5 times the maximum duration during the daytime, which amounts to approximately six hours for a three-month-old. However, it’s crucial to prioritise thorough socialisation before puppies reach six months of age, making the hours they spend awake and out of the crate incredibly valuable for their development.

This can be done by making plenty of time to take your dog out or combining with a regular day care service.  If you are considering day-care we strongly recommend you visit them and you can never ask too many questions and there are no silly questions.

If you have any concerns about your furry companion’s well-being, it’s always advisable to consult your veterinarian as the first point of contact. They can provide tailored guidance based on your dog’s specific needs and circumstances.

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