We frequently hear from people who are unhappy with their dog’s bad behaviors and lack of manners. The most common complaint is that the dog has become bratty. For instance, she will sit but then just look at her owner and bark LOUDLY with no end in sight. In other circumstances, the dog has started nipping at people in their home when he doesn’t get petted. Yet another example, the dog chases the owner down the hallway when they go to leave the house and bites their pants or legs. Most people would ask…well why do you let them get away with that? First question we ask…have you crate trained your dog? Typical response…NO, they would be in it too long during the day while I am at work, or that’s mean…I wouldn’t want to be locked in prison, so I don’t want to put my dog in prison.
The reality is that when dogs are taught a positive association with crating, it can be a blessing for training and managing most dogs. But it also requires the owner to have a positive attitude about crating. Dogs typically sleep 16 or more hours a day, so sleeping in their crate, which becomes their safe zone, while their owner is at work is a pretty natural thing to do. Crates can also be essential for house training a dog, teaching them to appropriately chew on chew toys rather than your furniture, help them learn impulse control and could really be a lifesaver in the event you were forced to evacuate with your pet or if your pet is injured. If you like to travel with your dog, many hotels will prefer you to crate your dog if you leave them in a hotel room and you have the peace of mind knowing their will be secure in new places that might be scary to them. Crates keep dogs safe in the car, so they can’t be tossed around in a wreck and dogs aren’t free to get the zoomies in the car or get under your feet and tangled up with the gas and brake petals.
Balance…what an important word in life…for us and for our dogs. Life happens. Dogs need to be crated while they are learning to be able to keep them safe from potential dangers in your home or on the road. Owners work. Yes, it typically leads to longer crating than anyone would like, but there are ways to mitigate that. Hire a dog walker or a neighbor, to come mid-day and take your dog for a nice long walk and potty break. When you come home from work, put on your walking shoes and pledge to take your dog for a walk everyday…it does you both good to get the exercise, enjoy some fresh air and spend time together building your relationship while you get out and explore new places and meet new people. Balance the crate time with out-of-crate time and make that out-of-crate time valuable and enriching for you and your dog. Make the time…it's well worth it!