Do I Have to Crate Train My Dog?

Collie dog is on a leather chair
credit: delectus/E+/GettyImages

One of the most important tasks any dog owner undertakes is training their new best friend. The task of transforming your lovable puppy into a very good boy can seem almost overwhelming, especially if you are a working pet parent. Crate training your dog can be a good place to start in the training process.

Do I have to crate train my dog?

Dogs are social animals that benefit from your company. If you left it up to your pup, you two would be together every second of every day. This, of course, is not always possible and there will be times your pup will have to be home alone. When this happens, having your dog crate trained is extremely valuable, not only for the safety of your dog but also for your peace of mind.

Benefits of crate training

Crate or kennel training your pup is beneficial on multiple levels. Not only does it allow you, the human, the security of knowing that your curious and playful pooch isn't up to all kinds of mischief while you are out, but it also taps into the natural instincts of your den animal doggo.

Teaching your dog to use a crate helps significantly with house training. Just like their wild dog counterparts, dogs don't like to soil their dens. Confining your dog in her crate will help her hold it until you get home, helping her learn control over her elimination. Unless your dog is overly anxious or has been stuck in the crate for too long, it is unlikely she will do her business in the same place she eats and sleeps. As soon as you get home, let your dog out and show her where she's supposed to do her business, reward her for a job well done, and reap the benefit of having a house trained pup.

Australian Shepherd Puppy First Day Home
credit: Angela Auclair/Moment/GettyImages

Are crates cruel to dogs?

With training, the crate becomes your dog's special place: a place to sleep, play, or eat. This is not to say that your dog should spend all of her time in a crate! It is very important to make sure that your dog is not left alone for extended periods. Over time, you will probably notice your dog taking her favorite toys into her crate or retiring there to relax or sleep. Because dogs are naturally curious and intelligent animals, when they are left alone or bored they tend to get themselves into trouble. An unsupervised dog can inadvertently harm himself. Before putting your dog in his crate, make sure he has had enough activity and has already done his business outside.

Choosing the right size dog crate

Because your dog will be spending time in her crate, the right size crate is essential. Choose a crate large enough for him to stand, lay down, turn around and play with toys. It should be well ventilated, and, if your dog is still growing, it should be able to accommodate your dog's full grown size. There are several types of crates to choose from. Depending on what your needs are, you may consider a plastic "flight kennel" for travel or a collapsible metal crate for your home.

Dogs at Home
credit: Laura Fay/iStock/GettyImages

Potential problems with crate training

If your dog is particularly anxious or suffering from separation anxiety, crate training won't help. It may stop your dog from destroying your stuff, but she is more likely to injure herself trying to escape from her crate. Additional problems that may arise are whining or barking. Determining if your dog is testing you is important, but it is important not to yell or agitate your dog further.

Mischievous dog
credit: CyberKristiyan/iStock/GettyImages

Are there alternatives to crate training?

While crate training your dog can be invaluable, it isn't the only option. If your house or space allows for confinement, you can create dog-safe areas where she won't get herself into trouble. Place child gates to limit access to places you don't want your dog to explore, or make a doggy door access to a dog-proofed, secure area of your yard. Another option is to hire a trained pet sitter to come during the day to take your pup for walks, play, and make sure she's safe and sound.