Mama Sally: I’m huge on using crates for dogs. I’ve used them with all of my dogs since I started in 1983, and have only grown stronger in my belief that they can really be a wonderful training tool!
For puppies, crates are invaluable! They really help in the housebreaking process as dogs will rarely want to soil their sleeping quarters, especially if it’s a den. That can speed up housebreaking exponentially! They are a wonderful safe confinement for puppies when you’re not able to be home. It eliminates so many naughty behaviors like chewing, getting into dangerous things or garbage, etc.
But let’s address what a crate can mean to a dog who is anxious or has some reactive or aggressive behaviors. Rugby is crated when I’m not home, even though he’s 8 years old. I’m not at all worried about him producing typical “naughty” dog behavior like chewing or shopping for mischief. He understands the house rules and follows them very well. He could easily be a dog who could be loose in the house without supervision…provided nothing triggered him! I just can’t control those external triggers, so I use a crate to keep him safe and secure when I’m gone.
For Rugby, his crate is a safe place that is secure and cozy. Nothing bad happens to him when he is in his crate. He knows that it is his special place in the house that belongs to him. He has multiple triggers that send him into a tailspin, and if I’m not there to help him cope, I’m honestly not sure how he would handle them. When he’s in his crate and something triggers him, he seldom has any sort of strong response, and recovers quickly.
One other consideration for using a crate is that if there’s ever a home emergency….fire, storm damage, etc., I know exactly where my dog will be. I can direct rescue workers to the exact spot to find my dog and that’s a whole lot of peace of mind for me as a dog owner. A firefighter can reach his crate from a first floor window, so I don’t have to risk anyone’s safety to rescue my dog if a fire happens.
I feel especially strong about using crates in the car, because that can make the difference between life and death for your dog. Crates provide protection from objects hitting your dog, and they also keep your dog from becoming a flying missile in the car, injuring passengers or being thrown through a window. Every year, I hear of lost dogs who escaped their vehicle during a car accident. I know if there’s ever a car accident while Rugby is along, he won’t escape through a broken window, and I know that he won’t impede any rescue attempts for passengers. He won’t bite any rescue workers because he’s scared or injured, and all the rescue workers have to do is transport him…in his crate…to a vet’s office where he can be well cared for until a family member can pick him up. At the very least, I recommend a seatbelt harness, if your dog is too large for a crate in your car.
I hope this has given you a different spin on why I love using a crate with dogs. I’ll let Rugby tell you why he likes his crate!
Rugby James: The Mama is absolutely right about this whole crate business. I lubs my crate. The Mama gots cushy crate pads for me, and she always puts my pillows in there sos I can prop up my head what I likes to do when I sleeps. I gets safe crate toys, like a Nylabone, and on account of I doesn’t chew up my piggies, she always puts one of my noisy piggies in there for me. That way, if sumpawdy rings the doorbell when she’s gone, I gots sumping I can do what will help ease my aggressive response, and help calm me down. It’s the same fing what I does when the Mama is home, sos it helps me stay consistent wif a safe and good response to my trigger sounds.
When the Mama leaves, she tells me to “Crate Up” and I runs to my crate, and waits for my snack! I always gets a lil snack when she leaves, and she always turns on the radio sos I doesn’t hasta feel all alone. She turns it up a lil bit loud sos I doesn’t hear so much trigger stuff and that’s a good idea. It helps me relax and stay calm when she’s gone.
The Mama uses my crate when we gets company at the house too, on account of I doesn’t always greet new Uprights very easy. I start out in my crate in our office, and then I can hear strangers in the house.