Why A Dog Crate?

Dogs are den-loving animals. Given the opportunity, dogs will dig hollows,or actual dens to sleep in. Dogs like and need to have a little place where they can rest. If the dog doesn't have a crate to go for naps, he'll create his own "den" by sleeping under tables, behind chairs, under beds or in corners. Dog crates fulfill the dog's psychological need to "den". The dog does not view a crate as a cage; that is a human interpretation.

Dog breeders and exhibitors have used crates for many years. The most comman crates are fiberglass or wire mesh but they are also made from aluminum or wood. The crate must be large enough for the dog to stand, sit, turn around. and lie down comfortably. The most common size for a Bichon is the Vari-Kennel size #200

Advantages of Dog Crates

  • Canine Security Blanket: Provides a safe place where the dog can relax. This could be at home, travelling or at dog shows and other events.

  • Confinement During Illness: There may be times during a dog's life when he should be kept quiet during recovery from an injury or illness. A crate is ideal for this. If the dog is crate-trained before the need arises, the stress factor is reduced which will help the dog's recovery.

  • Housetraining: Dogs do not willingly soil their own dens. Using the crate as the dog's den, teaching housetraining to the dog is easier. Using an established schedule of feeding, playing, exercising, and crate confinement, housetraining is taught quickly and with a minimum of stress for everyone.

  • Feeding: Feeding a dog in a crate provides a quiet/private place for the dog to eat. For the easily distracted young puppy, it helps to keep them focused on their dinner which teaches them good eating habits. Feeding two or more dogs at a time is done easier, faster, and without disagreements.

  • Home Alone: When a dog is left home alone, he will sleep most of the time and then amuse himself or relieve his anxiety when awake. Leaving the dog in a crate with a safe toy ensures that the house and its contents will not be damaged and the dog will be safe. ( Dogs can kill themselfs by chewing electrical cords, eating poisonous substances such as house plants or getting their collars caught with resulting panic, choking, and death.) When the owner returns, the house is in good shape, the dog is safe, and the "welcome home greeting " is very positive for dog and owner.

  • "Time Out": Crates are a welcome haven for the dog when home activities are too stressful. Such times could be busy parties or uncontrolled visiting children ( note- if this happened in my house it would be the children that go in the crate!! :-) ) The puppy who is still learning proper housemanners often needs a nap or "cooling down" period in a crate. The very "busy" puppy who becomes over-stimulated needs a quiet time in the crate to re-focus. Slowing the body helps to slow the active mind.

  • Seat Belts: Crating a dog when travelling in a car or truck is similar to putting him in a seat belt. The dog is protected if the vehicle is in an accident and, if some misfortune, the owner is injured, the dog stands a much better chance of being cared for. Dogs also become confused and upset durning accidents and if they are loose, they can panic and either be killed by an other car or be lost - possibly forever. Strangers are wary of handling or approaching strange dogs. Anyone can move a crated dog safely and easily. Rescers will be more concern about helping humans before animals.

  • Air Travel: Dogs are frequent air travellers, but they must travel in a crate. The best crates are molded fiberglass crates with flanges to keep luggage from blocking the ventilation ports around the perimeter of the crate.

  • Houseguests: When the dog travels with his owners, the dog will be able to be safely confined in a strange environment when he is unable to accompany them. Housequest traveling with dogs will stand a better chance of a repeat invitation if their dog is crate-trained.

Crate Training

The biggest key to success with crate training is the attitude of the owner. Dogs are extremely intuitive and will respond to the owner's thoughts. The crate must always be concidered as the dog's den - not a cage. The dog must have positive experiences and associations with his crate. One of the most effective ways to create thispositive association is to feed the dog in his crate. Another tool is to give the dog a biscuit when the dog is to be confined.

Puppies will learn to sleep in their crates at night and during the day for naps. For the very young puppy, having the crate next to the bed with the owner poking a finger through a ventilation slot can be very effective. ( This reassures the pup that he is not alone.) In the same vein, acclimatizing the pup to the new household is done more smoothly if, for the frist few nights ( at least), the pup sleeps in his crate in the owner's bedroom. The owner will be able to hear the pup's restlessness in the middle of the night which aids in housetraining. Initially, there may be some vocal complaints from the puppy. For some pup's letting him " cry it out" is effective. Others will responed to verbal "quiet" given in authoritative tones. A combination of squirting water at the dog's face and verbal "quiet" will work for some pups. Some pups respond to a verbal "quiet" combined with a thump on the top of the crate. But persistance on the owner's part is very important.

Crates should not be abused. Dogs need one on one attention, education, exercise, and free time. Used intelligently, the portable dog den/crate is a very useful and versatile piece of equipment.

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