Why Your Dog Absolutely MUST Have A Crate – Part 1

Gemma | December 16th, 2006
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Michelle King, of Reseda, California, thought Crystal, her 6-month-old Golden Retriever, looked so cute snuggled into the pillows on her son’s bed. She was asleep, so I left her alone and took a shower, Michelle remembers. When I came back to the bedroom, there was stuffing scattered everywhere. Crystal had chewed up the bedding and even had a piece of fabric hanging from ear to ear.

A friend suggested that Michelle try putting her puppy into a crate when she couldn’t keep an eye on her. I resisted because I didn’t want to confine Crystal, and I didn’t think that she would cause any more damage. But I was wrong, she says. When my pup chomped off chunks of mattress one evening soon after, I bought a crate that same day. I wasn’t thrilled about using it, but Crystal’s crime sprees were becoming too expensive.

At first glance, putting your puppy into the small, confined space of a crate may seem cruel, but it’s actually one of the kindest things you can do for your dog. Marcus Thompson, a German Shepherd trainer and breeder from Vermont, makes the following connection between dogs and their wolf ancestors:

Wolves and dogs are den animals that feel protected and comfortable when they’re sleeping in a covered area. The den provides security and a calming effect, Marcus says. Besides the bed or the couch, many dogs naturally choose places to sleep in the house that closely resemble a den or crate, such as beneath a desk or dining table, behind the drapes, or in an alcove.

Who’s The Boss?

Also known as a hard-sided pet carrier, a crate is a great training aid that helps you establish who’s in charge. You decide when to put your puppy in the crate and when to take it out, so your puppy learns that you’re the leader. This makes learning other skills easier because your puppy knows it can trust you.

As a destruction-proof zone, a crate gives your puppy a safe place to call its own and to stay out of mischief. Young dogs have a boundless supply of energy and are naturally curious. Left unsupervised, it only takes a few minutes for them to discover the joys (and dangers) of chewing, digging or trashcan raiding.

If you’re unable to keep an eye on your puppy, it’s better to put it into a crate for an hour or so, than to be angry if your little darling gnaws on an antique chair leg or destroys your best pair of shoes.

Read Part 1 | Read Part 2 | Read Part 3 | Read Part 4 | Read Part 5

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