To Crate or Not to Crate
now that is the question. Actually it is a question many new puppy owners ask. Many professional dog trainers I have talked to have given me a definitive answer of yes. Personally I have never crated my puppies for extended periods of time. But this in no way mean I don’t use a crate at all. There are many instances that a crate is necessary:
- Emergency situations
- Staying at a pet hospital
- Attending a dog event
Free Range Pet Parenting
I am what I like to refer as a free range pet parent. Basically I let my puppy roam freely within certain boundaries in my house using puppy gates. And because I am fortunate enough to be a stay at home dog mom (SAHDM) I keep everyone on a schedule. When a behavior occurs that I don’t want, I simply redirect that behavior to a more positive outcome.
Puppy Crate Training for Travel
As I said before there are times when crates are necessary and I do believe in using them. But as a free range pet parent how do I teach the puppy to remain calm while using a crate? I strongly belive in the idea that a puppy learns many things from their pack. So we started doing rides in the car with Riley and the crate. I have found this tag-team technique to be very effective.
Riley is a great dog to use for two reasons:
- Bond – Kevin has a strong bond with Riley. Not only is she a playmate, but she always has been very motherly to him
- Well Mannered – Riley is extremely well-mannered in the car. She never makes a sound while traveling and settles into her blankie and falls asleep. A perfect example of what to do when traveling and in a crate.
Because of these reasons, it makes the travel so much easier on the puppy. A little like monkey see monkey do.
Crates to Use
It really is up to use the type of crate to use. Just make sure if you are teaching the partner technique (car rides only) that the crate is large enough for each dog to lay down comfortably. I uses a Nos-2-Nos because they are the most comfortable for my dogs to stay in while we are at trials. I also love them because Riley and I are able to watch each other on a drive. The Nos-2-Nos also has 3 different points of entry, the top, side & front. They are also collapsible which is great when they are not in use!
A hard sided kennel such as a Vari-Kennel is great also. I tend to use my Vari-Kennel more in the winter time as it helps to keep the girls warm when we are either at lure coursing events or agility practice.
There is a point when its time for a puppy to travel alone in his new crate. We start with little short trips at first from 10 to 20 minutes. Kevin’s first trips alone were to his puppy class. For the first 10 minutes there was a little bit of crying but he quickly settled down to enjoy the ride. I did not ignore his crying but spoke softly to reassure him it was okay. By his 3rd trip alone in the car he began to settle down and enjoy the ride.
The Final Step
For us the final step into loving crates will be teaching Crate Games by Susan Garrett. So be sure to follow us and sign up for our newsletter to watch Kevin’s progress in the upcoming months.