Having your fur kid crate trained is one of the best things you can do for them. There are so many reasons why having your fur kid in a crate is beneficial, for both them and you. Crate training should begin when fur kids are young, not only because it is critical for confidence boosting, but because being in a crate is an integral part of a dog’s life.
Consider how imposing the big world can be to a young fur kid. As their fur parent, you introduce them to the world in manageable steps, with their home being their safe refuge. However, even their home with all its nooks & crannies, noises, and unfamiliar obstacles can be a minefield of uncertainty. This is where the crate comes in. Forget that dogs are den animals. Think of it from the perspective of how you would feel in an unfamiliar scenario, like moving to a new neighborhood or starting a new job. Do you not breathe a sigh of relief when you find yourself around familiar stuff/people?! That’s what the crate does- it puts a barrier between them and the unfamiliar- where they can let their guard down and feel safe to observe.
Feeling safe is such an important part of a fur kid growing up to be confident, and being confident helps a fur kid lead a balanced life. When a dog grows up uncertain, they can become timid, anxious, and/or fearful. At best, these fur kids miss out on experiencing everything that life has to offer. At worst, these traits can lead to unwanted behaviour like uncontrolled peeing, destructive chewing/digging, excessive barking, obsessive behaviours, and/or acts of reactivity/aggression.
Secondly, being in a crate is a part of being a dog in today’s society. If they travel, they will need to be in a crate; when they undergo a procedure with the vet, they will be in a crate; groomers typically need them to be in a crate for a portion of the drying time; and when they are at boarding facilities, they will be in a crate- even if it is a large run type. If a fur kid is not accustomed to feeling comfortable in a crate, all these events will be that much more traumatic.
The crate not only helps the fur kids feel safe, it literally keeps them safe. Using one in the vehicle prevents them from interfering with driving and keeps them contained in one area. Even if only a barrier is used, a fur kid familiar with hanging out in a crate will take to being behind a barrier with much more ease. In the home, being able to use the crate when fur kids are home alone prevents accidents from happening. Things can fall over & break/spill through no fault of their’s and become a hazard; loud, unexpected noises like thunderstorms, emergency vehicles, construction sounds can cause a fur kid to move erratically and potentially hurt themselves.
Though crates protect fur kids from harm, there are precautions that should be taken. The first is about their collar. Remove collars before fur kids spend time in their crates. Tags get caught in the bars very easily and this can lead to panic, being stuck, and in rare cases, strangling. This is true regarding fur kid clothing too. The elastics, drawstring loops, tabs, etc of fur kid outfits can get caught on the locking hooks of the crate, forcing them to be stuck against the walls of the crate. Finally, do not leave fur kids unsupervised with food and/or toys that can be potential choking hazards. Even if you know your fur kid’s chewing habits well, freak accidents do happen. If toys and/or food are to be left with them to occupy them, ensure they are things that are indestructible or can be swallowed even in larger chunks. Avoid soft/plush toys and ones with parts that can be ripped off. Stick to stuffable Kong™ feeders or frozen treats instead of bones, antlers, or bully sticks.
Crate time should always be presented as a positive experience, and never used as punishment. If introduced properly, the crate will always be a place your fur kid will seek out for safety and comfort, where they hang out, nap, and just be content. Crate training is a win win for everyone.