My family just rescued a puppy named Fred.
I know you all just clicked this to find out the quick answer to the question, “Is crate training good or bad?” I’ll get to that… but first a little bit about us. Through a random series of events, this little dude ended up with us. He is part Mini Pincher with some other things mixed in there. (the person giving him away did not know) He is also 100% lovable and has us all googly-eyed and talking in all sorts of different voices. Although we weren’t planning on getting a dog anytime soon…it is as if this adorable bundle of cuteness chose us, and we were always meant to be together. I’m not crying; you’re crying.
‘Rescue’ does not mean ‘damaged’; it means humans have let them down.
I have become mildly obsessed with becoming the best "dog mom" on the planet and have been researching ALL THE THINGS on giving your dog a great life!
WHEW, there are many opinions on the subject, but the most crucial decision our family is trying to make is whether to crate train. So, I began investigating. Is crate training good or bad in the eyes of more seasoned pet owners and professionals?
Naturally, my first question was, “What are the benefits of crate training?”
1. Potty training. This is by far the most compelling reason I am interested in crate training. It is a beautiful system but will require focus and attention in the beginning stages. The younger the pup, the more frequent the potty breaks, so be prepared to create a daily schedule and adjust as your puppy grows to make sure all involved are successful and happy. I also learned the importance of choosing the proper crate size. It matters, and there are strategic ways of going about it so that it does not slow the process or end up costing you an arm and a leg…or your patience. I say that because I was initially researching larger crates to save a few bucks. A good friend let me know that an improperly sized crate can slow the potty training process. Your pup should be able to sit, stand, turn around, and lie down but not able to potty on one side and lay on another. As your puppy grows, it is recommended that you adjust the crate size, so we will probably try and do that. We may spend a little more conservatively on the first couple, knowing that our pup will outgrow it.
2. Crates can protect your animal from harmful chemicals and materials. Naturally, our cute lil’ puppy thinks that everything, and I mean everything, was put there for his chewing enjoyment in our household. There are a couple of pairs of shoes that have seen better days. Does this mean he is a “bad boy” that deserves punishing? NO! It means he is a puppy doing puppy things. He is looking for guidance, instruction, and boundaries to learn what is okay and what is not. We aren’t always available to watch his every move, and it would be devastating if he were to ingest something poisonous or harmful. The idea of a safe place for my puppy gives me peace of mind and protects him, so I can see why this would be advantageous.
3. Crates can be a place of safety and security for a dog. Some argue that dogs are den animals, and some say they aren’t. I didn’t want to drown in that online argument, because who needs that. So, I focused more on how crates can be a safe and positive space for dogs to enjoy. Although the initial adjustment can be challenging because it is new and more confined than “the usual,” a dog can quickly move to associate his crate with sanctuary, rest, and comfort. After repeated exposure, a crate can become a safe place for the animal. This is incredibly valuable when your pup doesn’t do so well with separation anxiety or bedtime. To be clear, that does not mean that you should put your dog in the crate and forget about him. That’s careless, irresponsible, and can be damaging to the animal. Not okay! The idea is to create a “happy place” that your dog can enjoy anytime. It is suggested to have the crate in a space where people are when you are home so the dog can still be a part of things, so I will for sure do that. It is also recommended to make it comfortable and safe, so it feels like a second home.
After learning all that, I am leaning heavily in the direction of crate training Fred, but I was still curious to know what the opposition had to say on the matter.
So naturally, I asked, "What are the disadvantages of crate training a dog?"
1. Crate misuse. Unfortunately, some individuals will leave their dog in the crate for WAY too long. Sadly, if you leave your pup in the crate for too long, he may start to view it as a punishment. He may begin to feel trapped and frustrated. Some suggest crates should only be used as a training tool. Once healthy habits are established, you can graduate the dog into another closed-off room in the house. Once they master that, the animal should enjoy the whole house unless he wants to be in his crate for comfort reasons. If you know everyone will be away from home for extended periods, you may want to consider hiring a dog walker or a pet sitter to break up the day a bit. Doing so will provide your pup with much-needed exercise and socialization. Puppies 6 months and under shouldn’t be in a crate for more than 3-4 hours. They can’t control their bladders or bowels for that long.
2. Your puppy might be less than thrilled about the adjustment and have something to “say” about it. It is possible that your puppy may use all forms of barking, yelping, or howling with one plan in mind; GET MY HOOMAN TO OPEN THIS GATE! I have to admit that the thought of our sweet new pup making any distraught sound is unnerving to me, but I am going to collect all of the data before I make my final decision. If I know that crate training is best for Fred, I think we can both push through the adjustment period together.
3. It is used for punishing. A crate is never meant to be used to punish an animal. As stated, it is meant to be a safe and secure place for your pup to enjoy. If you use it for punishment, he may begin to associate it with being afraid and refuse to enter. Can you blame him? Some intentional obedience training will be more effective and yield a much better result. Barbara Fitzgerald is an AKC Breeder of Merit and has some great tips on how to crate train your puppy in a kind and thoughtful way.
So there you have it. Of course, I will continue researching different do’s and don’ts when it comes to crate training, but this got me started. We want our sweet Fred to love life, and we are 100% committed to making sure he does; crate or not! Still deciding…but, I also read that waiting too long can cause issues too, so we will know soon. We would love to hear your feedback on social media. Join the conversation. Do you think crate training is good or bad?