Is Crate Training Cruel?

Crate Training Dog
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When it comes to the subject of crate training, many dog owners are forced to answer this question for themselves – is crate training cruel? While certain animal rights protection agencies suggest that confining a dog (or any other animal) for any period of time is cruel, countless dog trainers and dog owners think otherwise. In fact, one of the most popular methods of housebreaking a new puppy or dog involves utilizing a crate. Crate training is a highly effective method of house training and, if you do it correctly, it is not cruel. In fact, your puppy will even learn to love his crate – he will come to think of it as his own little space where he can retreat it he needs a break from household activity or if he simply wants to take a nap.

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Why Does Crate Training Work?

The principle of crate training is based on the idea that dogs have a natural aversion to soiling their beds. If you properly introduce your puppy to the crate and teach him to have a positive association with it, your puppy will naturally come to think of his crate as a sort of “den”. Choosing a crate that is just large enough for your puppy to comfortably stand up, lie down, and turn around in will also help him to form this association. Giving your puppy a crate that is too large might lead to accidents in the crate. You should also be careful about leaving food and water in the crate with your puppy if he is to remain in the crate for any length of time over 60 minutes. Crating your puppy when you are not at home will help to prevent him from having an accident in the house but, in order for crate training to be effective, you must give your puppy plenty of chances to go out during the day.

How to Use a Crate Properly

Make no mistake, there is a right way and a wrong way to use a crate. When used correctly, a crate can become your dog’s favorite sleeping place and he will come to view it as a sort of safe haven. When used incorrectly, however, your dog may come to view the crate as a punishment – a means of separation from family and family activities. In order to utilize a crate correctly, you first need to teach your dog that the crate is a safe place – you need to work with your puppy so that he forms a positive association with the crate. You can do this by tossing treats into the crate for your puppy to find or even by feeding him his meals in the crate for a few days. If you properly introduce your puppy to the crate then, by the time you start crate training, your puppy will already be used to it.

The worst thing you can do with a crate is to use it as a source of punishment. You should never use your puppy’s crate as a location for “time out” and you should never force your puppy to stay in the crate for extended periods of time. When crate training your puppy, you need to know how long your puppy is capable of holding his bladder and you need to make sure to let him out often enough for him to do his business. This means that if you work away from home you may need to hire a pet sitter or ask a friend or family member to come let your puppy out during the day while you are out. While crating your dog for short periods of time can help to prevent accidents in the house, crating him for longer than he can physically handle may be considered cruel.

It is up to you to form your own opinion regarding whether crating a puppy is cruel or not. Most dog owners and trainers would agree, however, that if the crate is used properly then it should not be considered an instrument of cruelty. The key is to introduce your puppy to the crate properly so he forms a positive association with it and to use the crate responsibly.

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta is a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine Dog News. She's also the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, the Dog Writers Association of America Award winner for 2013. In addition, she's written Canine Cuisine: 101 Natural Dog Food & Treat Recipes to Make Your Dog Healthy and Happy.

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