Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice -

Dog Crates, cages and indoor kennels - parlour or prison?

Dog crates, cages or indoor kennels have become easily available in recent years, used correctly they will become a much loved den and bolt hole for a dog, incorrectly used they can encourage neglect and lack of training in lazy or negligent owners.

The main value of a crate is in providing a young puppy with a safe place to rest and to encourage house training particularly overnight. However most dogs love to find an enclosed spot, behind the sofa or under the coffee table for example, where they can feel cosy whilst keeping an eye on household activities. A crate can create a cosy den for an adult dog to enjoy but there are do's and don't of which to be aware.

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice  using dog cages

From a human perspective we associate
cages with prison

A Dog Crate is NOT

  • A place to lock up a dog or puppy for long periods especially whilst you are out of the house
  • A place to send your dog or puppy as a punishment
  • A place to "keep" your dog or puppy


Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice buying a dog crate

Dusty takes a nap in Cider's crate
when things get too hectic

A Dog Crate IS

  • Your puppies bedroom, a place where your puppy can go to rest safely and without interference whenever she chooses or when you decide she needs her beauty sleep.
  • A safe place to leave a puppy for SHORT periods of time and overnight to encourage house training and protect your puppy from harm when you cannot directly supervise her.

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice indoor  kennels

Your puppy should be able to go to her
crate whenever she chooses

Crates and Puppies

For puppies crates serve a variety of very practical uses;

  • Because puppies have a strong instinct not to foul their immediate environment a crate is very helpful in house training, your puppy will cry to be let our when she needs to relieve herself giving you the opportunity to take her straight outside, supervise her toilet and lavish her with praise for being so clean.

  • Puppies, like small children are full of mischief, need close supervision when they are awake and a secure place to sleep. A crate allows you the confidence to leave your puppy resting or sleeping in safely so that you can give her your undivided attention and supervision when she is awake.

  • Puppies have a very high sleep requirement, a crate is refuge for your puppy from enthusiastic visitors, playmates, children etc.. Everyone should be told that when puppy is in her crate she is to left alone in peace to enjoy the rest she needs.

  • In a busy household unused to a young puppy, routine precautions such as shutting doors and gates, putting vulnerable possessions away, being mindful of hazards to health or safety can take a while to instil in to all family members. During this time an unrestrained or unsupervised puppy is very much at risk of injury. A crate provides a secure area to put you puppy whilst people are coming and going, things are being delivered or when boisterous children are around.

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice teaching a dog to use a crate, cage or indoor kennel

When puppy is asleep, quietly close the door

Crates and Adult Dogs

For an adult dog the benefits of a crate are different, a dog will still regard her crate a safe refuge when the household gets too hectic and will want to sleep in her crate at night. When a dog has learned the rules of the household, the crate door will not need to be shut but the dog still has a place to call their own, a place to take their toys or a bone and enjoy a little privacy and stress-free relaxation.

There are other potential benefits in having a crate for an adult dog;

  • Travelling or on holiday with your dog she will have a familiar bedroom and you will certainly have happier hosts if your dog is not on the bed, sofa etc.
  • If you dog is comfortable and familiar with her crate she will be happy to rest in it should she ever need to be "kept quiet" after any veterinary treatment or injury.
  • Your dog needs her own bed and sleeping area anyway and a crate keeps this contained and easy to clean.

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice how to use a dog crate, cage or indoor kennel

Hercules asks - who's been sleeping in my bed?

Starting with a Crate

  • Ensure your crate is large enough, if you only plan to use the crate whilst your puppy is small get on approx. 24" long by 18" wide and 21" high. For an adult of either breed a crate should be 45" inches long by 27" wide and 30" high.
  • Have your crate ready for when you bring your puppy home.
  • Site the crate in a busy part of the house so that your puppy is included and can see what is going on, make sure the location is draught free, warm and pleasantly light but avoid direct sunlight and real hot spots.
  • Line the bottom of the crate with newspaper in case of accidents.
  • Put your new puppies bedding in the furthest end of the crate.
  • Put fresh water (in a heavy bowl) in the crate.
  • Put either your puppies food or a tasty tit bit in the crate.

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice  where to get a dog cage, crate or indoor kennel

The crate should be left with the door open

Introducing Puppy

  • Let the puppy into the room - don't try to get her into the crate or pay any attention to the crate at all.
  • Encourage puppy to play with a toy and slowly move the game close to the crate.
  • If your puppy is keen on the toy throw the toy to the edge of the crate door and gradually just inside the door - DON'T TRY TO SHUT THE DOOR.
  • If your puppy is not keen on the toy use a tit bit to encourage her towards the crate and gradually throw little pieces of titbit just inside the crate.
  • Once your puppy is comfortable going into the crate to get her toy or titbit finish the game, take her outside to empty herself and then let her explore the room by herself. She will know from her earlier experience that her food and water are inside the crate.
  • When she goes into the crate to drink or eat praise her.
  • When she starts to show signs of tiredness encourage her towards the crate with her toy or titbit but do not put her in the crate if she chooses to sleep outside it.
  • Eventually sometimes after a few sessions like this she will settle in the crate to sleep.
  • When your puppy is asleep in the crate very quietly close and latch the door and latch the door without waking her.
  • As soon as your puppy wakes up open the crate and take her straight outside to empty herself.
  • After a short while you will be able lead your puppy straight in to her crate with a toy or titbit, at this point introduce a command such as "in your bed" so that in a short time your puppy will go to her crate when told to do so.
  • Get in the habit of putting your puppy in her crate at all sorts of times not just when things are busy or she may become resentful of her crate because she feels she is being left out.

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice using a dog crate, cage or indoor kennel

This puppy is happy to explore her new crate -
the door is left open

Crate Safety

  • Always remove your puppies collar before putting her in her crate or she could get the buckle caught on the bars and strangle herself.
  • Watch your puppy carefully until you are satisfied that she will not try to chew the bars or she could get her mouth caught.
  • Watch your puppy carefully until you are satisfied that she will not try to claw through the bars or she could get her paw caught.
  • Sometimes puppies sleep better the first few nights if the crate is covered (especially by a garment or blanket carrying your scent), if you cover the crate make sure that there is plenty of air movement and no risk if suffocation.

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice using a dog crate, cage or indoor kennel

Always make sure that your puppy's
crate is large enough

And Remember

  • Do not leave your puppy or adult dog in her crate for long periods, for puppies an hour is quite long enough and for adult dogs 2 hours is about the maximum, the exception to this is of course sleeping overnight..
  • A crate is only a place for your puppy or dog to sleep, it is their bedroom not their home. If you don't have time to spend with a puppy or dog or are not around at home during the day - don't get a dog or a puppy.
  • A crate is not an excuse for not teaching your dog how to behave in the house an adult dog should not need to be locked in their crate but should be able to use it freely with the door open.
  • Getting your puppy used to a crate may take time and patience, not rush things and never loose your temper.
  • Don't rush to let your puppy out of the crate every time she cries, if you are sure she does not need to relieve herself ignore, her she is training you to come when called!
  • If your puppy is very stubborn about going to her crate and you are satisfied that she understands what she is being told to do be very firm, pick her up quietly and without talking to her put her in the crate, shut and latch the door and walk away without talking to or fussing her.
  • Always ensure your dog or puppy has access to fresh water whilst in a crate.

Border Collie and Golden Retriever Advice problems with dog crates, cages or indoor kennels

The crate should be sited in a busy,
bright and draught free area.

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