Updated: Nov 1
If dogs and crates were to define their relationship status, it would be eternally “Complicated.” Not just dogs, but several pet parents are also against the concept of confining their dogs in this “jail” like space. However, truth be told, the concept of a crate for dogs is no different than cribs for toddlers. It is a safety tool that can be a boon if used correctly and a bane if not. Let’s chat about a few benefits of crate training a dog.
1. Simplifies potty training
Potty training is one of the most challenging and time-consuming aspects of training and settling in a puppy. Crate training simplifies and accelerates the process of house training as it eliminates accidents around the house, helps puppy with bladder control and helps set a routine. Preventing accidents and is the primary step towards having any kind of success in potty training.
Typically, dogs don’t soil where they sleep. This instinct is majorly at play while house training a dog with the help of a crate.
2. Provides structure
Dogs are creatures of discipline and can understand and follow routine better than anybody else. Living a life full of randomness and surprises can end up confusing your dog and may also lead to behavioral issues, fear and anxiety. Your dog’s day should ideally be a repetition of meals, potty, play (including walks) and crate over and over again.
Crating your dog from time to time for a couple of hours, consistently every day will help structure your dog’s day while providing safety and preventing destructive behavior and boredom.
3. Helps a dog to calm down effectively
Every dog needs some amount of physical and mental stimulation. Some breeds need it more than others. However, downtime is an essential need for your dog too. In the absence of downtime, calm behavior may become unknown to your dog, which will actually give rise to more behavioral issues such as barking, hyperactivity, anxiety and reactivity.
This often leads to pet parents wondering where they’re going wrong when their ever-energetic dog refuses to settle down even after hours of play. In a crate, your has no other option but to settle down. Having said that, don’t lock your dog in the crate for several hours expecting them to stay calm in there. This will lead to boredom, frustration and increased hatred towards the crate.
Instead of putting your dog in the crate for several hours at a time, limit crate time to one to two hours max, at a time, but, multiple times a day. This will ensure that your dog is learning to calm down after every play session.
4. Keeps puppy safe when unsupervised
One of the major benefits of crate training your dog is the fact that it keeps puppies safe and out of trouble. If your dog learns to settle down in the crate, it enables you to you leave the house for a couple of hours without worrying about your little pup.
One of the most common mistakes we make is that we end up using the crate only when we’re about to step out to leave our dogs alone at home. Doing so repeatedly may create negative associations with the crate in your dog’s mind. This is because they learn to associate the crate with isolation.
To prevent this from happening, make sure to proactively use the crate even when you’re inside the house, probably in the same room while your dog is being crated.
5. Prevents isolation distress
Isolation distress is something that a dog normally does not do in your presence but seems to always do when you are gone. Some examples of isolation distress behaviors are digging, barking, chewing, urinating or defecating in the house or being destructive.
One of the major reasons why a dog develops isolation distress is because they’re not used to independence and isolation at all. For your dog to be able to stay alone in your absence, they need to first be comfortable with being independent in your presence. Meaning, your dog needs to be okay with spending time in the crate while you’re in the same room and visible to them.
Crates, when introduced properly, prevent over-dependency on humans and teaches dogs to function on their own while the humans are away. If crate trained from an early age, dogs learn to associate with the crate as a safe space rather than a punishment zone.
6. Teaches a dog to self engage
Pet parents have to act as enablers while their dogs are in process of learning to self-engage in the crate.
A dog’s ability to self-engage in a crate is highly decided by the training imparted by pet parents. Constant encouragement combined with interactive toys like Classic Kong, puzzle toys, frozen meals and long-lasting, edible chews act as enablers and help dogs be engaged in the crate for a considerable amount of time.
7. Acts as a safe haven
Imagine if your Dad’s friends come home and you didn’t want to hang out with them and you had no bedroom too. Now, you’d probably say that you would step outside for a couple of hours. Unfortunately, your dog does not have that option. The crate especially acts as a safe haven for shy, nervous, fearful and territorial dogs who would be happier not interacting with visitors at home.
Giving a safe space for your dog to go to whenever they are uncomfortable prevents fearful aggression and reactivity from escalating because it enables dogs to choose flight as an option between flight or fight.
8. Simplifies long journeys
While some dogs live for car rides and the thrill of putting their heads outside the windows, sticking their tongue out while enjoying the breeze, several dogs also suffer from car sickness. In many cases, the uneasiness is not limited to throwing up and excessive drooling, but escalates into constant hyperactivity and movement in the car, which can be quite distracting to the driver, especially during long drives.
During such scenarios, crate confinement can be a boon as it not only lets the driver drive effortlessly, but also helps dogs settle down quickly.
9. Helps dogs in settling down in new places faster
One of the most underrated benefits of crate training is how much it helps dogs in settling down in unfamiliar places like vet’s office (overnight), boarding kennels and in novel environments. When everything around them is unfamiliar, the crate being the only familiar place, gives dogs a sense of security and calm.