We must say that we at Anvis are big fans of crates (large enough to allow the dog to stand up and turn around)! Allowing the dog to have his own space, away from the boisterous kids and letting her relax is a relief for most parents! It’s a fantastic way to potty train the dog and allows the pet parent to step out of the house for a short duration without expecting a mess when they return. Crate training is a wonderful tool for so many reasons, but in the wrong method of implementation, it can cause a lot of damage to the dog AND its relationship with the pet parents.
Firstly, being crated does NOT mean the dog can be left in a crate for hours and hours. No more than 2-3 hours is recommended for this, so if you are a busy pet parent, do get a pet walker or a pet sitter to step in, take the dog out for a walk or just play around the house. Letting the dog stretch is vital to keep its muscles & mind strong!
So...what are the issues that may come up with improper crate usage?
Boredom! So many times, we have been called to intervene by people who hear their neighbor's dog whining or barking for having been restricted in a small crate for hours on end. A dog is bred to run, to guard and to hunt. Not to be crated until you think it’s ok to bring him out. When you leave an active, smart animal in a crate for an extended amount of time, their bark and whine will turn into their best friend. You will soon have a vocal, noisy dog on your hands!
Stress/anxiety: you can also expect to see the dog get anxious around the crate...some things you’ll see are that she will pee as soon as you ask her to get into it...or when you start getting ready to leave, she knows it’s crate time soon and will start running into nooks and crannies in the house eventually having you drag her by the collar to get into the crate. Stress and anxiety shorten the duration of dogs’ lives too, just like they do for us humans.
Potty training regressions: There have been instances when pet parents have come to us about potty training issues like "my dog pees where he sleeps but I am doing everything right!" Don’t take these problems lightly. It indicates some deeper issues largely related to improper crate training. When a dog is stressed and is left alone for a really long time in a crate, it is natural for the animal to pee/poop there as it hasn't gotten a chance to relieve itself when it wants to. This can cause confusion in the house as the pet parent wonders why the dog is now peeing in the house...there is no substitute for long walks, playtime and mental stimulation for the dog. Crate training is not the answer for pet parents who cannot spend quality time with their pets!
Lastly,Crates are NOT time-out places. If you use the crate to give your dog a timeout and THEN think it is a good place to leave the dog alone when you step outside the house, think AGAIN. Why would a dog be OK in the crate when you step out? Why would you leave the dog in a stressed state of mind confusing the dog that its behavior is again being given a time out? Please remember the crate is a happy place, with NO margin for error here. Such mixed messages will confuse the dog and cause damage with your relationship with the dog.
So, these are just a few issues of improper crate usage...so if you want to know how to use the crate properly, how to get the dog reacquainted with this tool, then give us a buzz..we, at Anvis would love to offer our help!