I, like many others, thought that crate training a puppy was cruel, before I did a little bit of research. After all, the puppy whined and cried when I first put her in the dog kennel, so it had to be traumatic for her, right? Wrong! She did have a fit, but it had more to do with what she wanted at the moment, not what was best for her. I did decide to crate train her, and have discovered there are many good reasons to crate train a dog, despite his or her first opinion of it.
1. Crate training a puppy is the safest option if you work away from home. Leaving a puppy running around the house is obviously a one-way ticket to trouble. In addition to leaving pee and poop around the house, the little bundle of mischief can eat plants, get into garbage, and chew any number of items, from shoes to furniture to electric cords. Shutting a puppy in a small area, such as a bathroom or laundry area can be a better option. Still, there are toilets to fall into, wires that he may find, and closed cabinets he may discover how to open. A can of toilet cleaner is not a safe toy for a puppy!
2. Crate training is safer for your positions. Even a small puppy can damage things. The first day after leaving my Shih Tzu/Poodle mix puppy (who weighed all of 5 pounds soaking wet) closed in the bathroom, I came home to find that he had used the edge of my cabinet as a chew toy, despite the room being peppered with Kongs and other toys, and that the bottom of the door was scratched beyond recognition. The next day, he was in a crate! Of course, you may love the idea of teeth marks on your kitchen cabinet or scratch marks on your linoleum!
3. Crate training is the most effective tool to housetraining your puppy or adult dog. Housetraining a dog is one of the challenges that simply comes with the territory of owning a dog, and most people want this challenge over as quickly and painlessly as possible. Dogs naturally do not want to eliminate in their bed, and crate training makes use of this instinct. Your puppy may not want to be in a crate, at first, but then, do you really want to be constantly cleaning up dog waste?
4. Crate training gives your puppy his or her own secure space that he or she will come to consider a den. If you have children or other dogs in the household, this is especially important. Dogs naturally seek out small, secluded areas to sleep or hide when they feel over whelmed. A crate will be a tremendous comfort to your dog when he or she is older.
5. Crate training prepares your dog for future times when he or she needs to be transported or kenneled. Most dogs, at some time, need to be confined, whether it is so an owner can travel or so that a medical procedure can be done. Some dogs actually accompany owners on airlines, or on vacation. Dogs that have been crate trained as puppies tend to take kenneling later with much less stress.
When I first started crate training, I was dismayed that my puppy did not seem to like it as much as I did. But neither did my son like the playpen when he was a toddler and I put him in it so I could make dinner! Unsupervised puppies cause trouble, whether it is eliminating in the house, tearing up possessions, or engaging in dangerous entertainment. As with a child, consider your puppy’s needs before giving into his wants.