We all like a place where we can escape from the world. Somewhere we can relax away from the bustle of everyday life and feel safe. Crates can provide this comfort for your dog.
A crate should be a safe haven where your dog can choose to go and not be disturbed. You will often see a dog take himself off to a safe place in a room, such as behind a chair or under a table. A crate can provide a similar space; one he can call his own. Children should be taught that when their dog is in his ‘den’ he must be left alone. Choose a crate size that is appropriate to your dog’s size, where he can stand up, turn around and comfortably lie flat. Provide a clip-on water bowl. No dog should ever be shut in a crate for long periods of time when you are out at work; this is simply cruel.
Place your dog’s crate in a quiet part of the house. Cover it with a blanket to make him feel secure and if possible turn the crate door towards a wall to reduce visual stimulation. Some dogs, such as Border Collies, are highly stimulated by movement, finding it hard to relax if they can see the comings and goings in a household. Provide suitable bedding and spray this with Pet Remedy. Pet Remedy is a relaxing blend of oils that ‘trick’ the nerve cells into believing they are receiving a calming message from the brain.
Your dog needs to learn that his crate is a great place to be. Leave the door open for your dog to wander in and out of his own volition and feed all your dog’s meals (from Kongs) in his crate. This builds up a positive association. Gradually increase the time he spends in there. A dog who is fed in his crate is less likely to be interrupted by people or children during his meal times and is less likely to guard his food.
A crate should be a place where you can put your dog for a few minutes when necessary. A dog who is crated during your meal times cannot learn to beg for food. A puppy who cannot be supervised may be placed in his crate with a suitably sized stuffed Kong. A visitor who is scared of dogs may feel a lot safer if your dog is in his crate. Crates can be safe havens for dogs who are anxious on Bonfire night for instance, providing you have previously built up a positive association.
Crates provide a safe way for your dog to travel in the car. In the unfortunate event of an accident they protect your dog better than a car harness. Cover the crate with a blanket to encourage relaxation; this is especially important for dogs who are stimulated by the movement of other cars. Never leave your dog alone in a car crate in warm weather; you risk cooking him to death.
Used in the right way, crates can provide many benefits for your dog. Spend time introducing him carefully to his new home and perhaps he will come to love it as much as my English Springer Spaniel Oscar. He opens the crate door with his paw and takes himself off to bed!
This article, along with a selection of others about behaviour and training, is available in our Dog Blog booklet. This can be purchased for £2 and is available as a paper copy or downloadable e-book. All proceeds to Irish Retriever Rescue.
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