For those owners who are on the fence about crate training…
So today’s podcast is about crate training, and should you do it?
But, before we get to that, I just want to give a HUGE SHOUTOUT to those of you who are listening. I actually got two emails this week from listeners, which is so exciting! And, I’m going to publish a podcast about one of their questions later this week, so stay tuned for that. It should be a good one!
Also, a shout out to “TeacherTeach 2015” and “ShadyPinesMa2020” for both giving me a 5-star rating on iTunes. That really means a lot! Thank you!
All right, thanks for bearing with me, just so happy to be getting some feedback that you all are enjoying the show! On to today’s topic, “should you crate train your puppy?”
I’ve seen recently in my news feeds, more and more puppy owners unsure about it and considering not doing it.
I just wanted to weigh in with some food for thought that might help you decide if you’re on the fence!
First of all, it has to be said that there ARE some puppies who do okay with no crate.
If you’ve been listening, you heard in my other episode, that I find those puppies to be the exception for sure. In fact, they are so rare, that if you have one, I’d say you have a unicorn! Enjoy him!
Generally, the puppies who do well with no crate training are puppies who are pretty easy going. They are confident, happy puppies who are easy to train, and no happy to be with you but also comfortable doing their own thing.
There is another group of puppies that does fine with no crate training, but for these puppies, it has much less to do with the puppies and much more to do with the owner or home situation.
For these puppies, they live in a situation where they can be pretty much with someone 24/7.
Their owners also tend to be naturally in tune with their puppies and more or less watch them all the time when they are little. The puppy may sleep with his owner, or sleep very near the owner in a dog bed and in a very puppy proofed bedroom. The owner gives the puppy lots of exercise and mental stimulation during the day. The owner spends lots of time teaching the puppy.
In my experience, these are owners who don’t have to work, work from home, or have a similar-style puppy caregiver if they do have to work.
Very gradually, after 4-6 months of this style of puppy raising, the puppy is able to be left home alone for short periods, even without a crate. Puppies are fully house trained in a similar time frame to those puppies who used crates at the beginning, as house training is as much developmental as it is training, so typically around 1-2 years of age.
So, those are the two groups. The unicorn puppies and the owners who are able to make their puppy their full-time job for the first few months and then their part-time job until 1-2 years.
Of course, all of these are gross generalizations and some puppies are trained much faster or later that this. It all depends on drives, size, energy level, temperament, etc.
But, now that we’ve covered those two smaller groups, let me talk about the rest of us!
When the average person chooses not to crate their average puppy, here are the issues I see most frequently (most puppies do not display all of these, but it is common to see an uncrated puppy exhibit 2-3 of these):
- Everything is fine for the first few months and issues start to pop up around 16 weeks, as the puppy is growing into adolescence
- Potty training accidents occur with regularity. A lot of people think it is normal for a young puppy to have daily accidents. This is a myth. The vast majority of puppies I raise in my house have only 1-2 accidents ever inside. Because I strategically use a crate, I am able to potty train puppies extremely quickly. And, I don’t have to deal with cleaning up messy accidents for months!
- The puppy develops separation anxiety because he does not regularly practice separation. The puppy will often become demanding and bark or anxious and cry if separate from their owners. Sometimes I see this barking happen, even for small separations – like the owner being in bed without the puppy.
- The puppy becomes an intimate part of meal times. Because the puppy is not crated, he is often right at the table with the owner at meal times, or on the floor getting little snacks or scooping up crumbs. This can lead to a puppy who barks at you when you eat.
- The puppy becomes destructive – he learns to chew furniture, rugs, and upholstery when you are gone because it relieves boredom. If he is tall, he learns to check the trash for goodies. If he’s even taller, he begins also counter surfing, which means he is surfing the counters looking for things to eat or play with.
- The puppy sleeps in bed with the owner. This is often fine. But, when it’s not, it can become really problematic. Like young puppies growling at their owners for moving in bed or partners for coming into bed.
- Because crates help facilitate structure and leadership, all sorts of problems due to lack of structure and leadership can appear with uncrated puppies – such as excessive barking, anxiety, and hyper behavior when visitors come over, especially at the door.
I’m sure there are more issues, but those are the obvious ones that I could think of off the top of my head.
The other issue of course, is how will your puppy handle being crated if he’s never been crated? Say you have an emergency medical issue and he has to be crated at the vet hospital, or you have to fly somewhere with him, or he has to be boarded, or your daycare uses crates, or your groomer uses crates.
You can probably see that I’m pretty strongly in favor of crating for the average puppy and owner.
I think it just prevents SO MANY predictable behavior problems.
Plus, I see that crating teaches puppies to be more confident. Crate trained puppies don’t need their owners present to relax, the crate can teach them to relax.
If done correctly, the crate will become your puppy’s safe space, his sanctuary.
I think of a crate as your dog’s personal bedroom. I don’t know about you, but after a long and stressful day, there is nothing better than walking into my peaceful bedroom for some relaxation.
I used to have a rescue dog who was 15 lbs, and she could be a little unsure in new situations. But, because she was so little, I often traveled with her in one of those soft-sided crate carrier bags. She was SO confident and relaxed in that bag. She could go anywhere and be totally at ease – restaurants, friend’s houses, flights, anywhere! I loved being able to give her that safe space.
So, there you have it! I hope this helps any of you who are struggle in deciding whether or not crate training is right for you and your puppy.
If you liked this episode, please consider leaving a rating or review! It helps so much!
Also, if you’d like to have your puppy question featured on this podcast, please feel free to email me or you can post to our Savvy City Dog facebook page, and I will try to include it if I can. If this season goes well, I will try to release an adult dog season down the road!
Thank you so much! I look forward to talking again soon!