All I Want Is A Room Somewhere: The Importance of Crate Training Your Pet
Eliza Doolittle pines for a room somewhere in the famous film My Fair Lady, and your pet may feel the same way. We all need a “loverly” place to go to when things get loud, cold, challenging, or exhausting, and your pet deserves the same consideration. Aside from being a soothing sanctuary (full of comfy bedding, toys, and even a scrumptious treat or two), your pet’s crate can prove exceptionally useful during housebreaking and when preparing to travel.
While crate training your pet can seem like an insurmountable challenge, it’s possible – and even easy – as long you remain consistent and dedicated to the process.
Time and Materials
Sure, crate training can be an investment to start out with, but just think about all you’ll be saving by keeping clothing and household goods in prime condition. If you plan to crate train in tandem with housebreaking a puppy, he or she will not only learn bladder and bowel control (puppies don’t like to go in their den), but teething on your heirloom rugs or Dansko shoes will be kept to a minimum. Plus, proper crate training soothes separation anxiety and traveling fears.
For success, we suggest the following for both cats and dogs:
- The size of your pet’s crate should be large enough for him or her to stand up in and turn around comfortably. If the crate is too big, it doesn’t feel protective and may cause the pet to be jostled around during transport.
- If you provide a molded plastic crate or kennel, start with just the bottom shell (remove the door and top half). Over time, your pet will adopt the bottom shell as a cozy place to snooze or groom and you can slowly add back the remaining components.
- A wire crate can be a little noisy at first to a discerning pet; make sure the door is secured to stay open at all times in the beginning and then shut once your pet has accepted the crate.
- As your pet begins to feel more comfortable inside the crate, stay in the room with your pet for 15-20 so that going into the crate doesn’t become associated with being left alone.
- The crate may need to be placed in an out of the way spot, but make sure it’s in a place that doesn’t add to any possible feelings of isolation.
All In The Details
Your pet will likely be more interested in the crate if you offer consistent, kind encouragement. Create positive connections for your pet by adding his or her preferred bedding, blankets, toys, and healthy treats.
To begin enticing your pet into the crate, drop small bits of your pet’s food leading up to and inside the crate. If he or she seems amenable to it, go ahead and offer meals there, but you can always place bowls just outside or nearby. Give your pet lots of praise and affection upon entering the crate and continue the trend of positive reinforcement when he or she spends any time inside.
- Try to avoid disturbing your sleeping pet when inside the crate
- Slowly accustom your pet to the top shell and crate door closing
- After a while, carry him or her (if possible) inside the crate to the car, and then back again
- Add different components, such as starting the engine of your car and, when ready, driving around a little bit
- Offer accolades throughout the trip, and then again when you arrive home
- Place the crate back in it’s regular spot
Lastly, we recommend that your pet’s crate is:
- Never used for punishment (it develops negative associations)
- Only encouraged after the occurrence of brisk exercise and full bathroom breaks
- A secure, comforting place for a safe amount of time for your pet (some pets can only handle an hour or two at a time, others can last a full work day)
Crate Training Possibilities
One of the best things about crate training your pet is that it ensures a happy reunion when you arrive at home. Your pet understands your expectations and thrives within the safe framework you’ve provided via the crate. The peace of mind you can realistically achieve through crate training is worth just as much as your pet’s security and wellbeing.
Above all, please let the Pet Experts at Springbrook Animal Care Center know if we can help you address any crate training concerns.