Crate Training Tips Every Pet Owner Needs

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My house would be a zoo if I didn’t crate train our dogs. Between our Rottweiler, Chief, our Tabby Cat, Tucker, and our French Bulldog, Bob, there is always some chaos going on somewhere within earshot. If you add our new flock of chickens into the mix, things just get wild. Crating our pets helps to create order, a safe place for them to relax, and in the case of our resident “chewer,” it also keeps our belongings safe. Crate training isn’t always easy, but it is definitely best for the safety of your pet (and occasionally your sanity).

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If you haven’t been to my blog before I’ll introduce you to everyone. I’ll start with my beloved Bob. He was a gift from my ex husband while we were stationed in Bogota, Colombia. He has been a transcontinental traveling companion, and stayed with us through all of our transitions the last few years. He is sweet and loyal, but I have never met a more destructive dog. If he catches you distracted, I can guarantee he’ll find your favorite shoe and it will cease to exist. Do you see that innocent face? Beware, it is a carefully contrived doggie disguise! He has super dog strength in a very compact body, and he easily causes more trouble than any of the eight Rottweilers I have owned in my lifetime. But, I love him dearly in spite of all his faults (and despite the fact that something spooked him last night and he kept me up all night barking until I snuggled with him). He will work for cookies, and he is tortured daily by our Tucker cat.

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Late last summer we got the opportunity to adopt Chief, our Rottweiler. He is close to 8 years old and unfortunately his previous owner could no longer keep him. I missed my Rottweiler Naya, who passed away at 13 years old. I was hoping he would fill a gaping void in my heart. We were lucky because he was raised on a farm, and he didn’t miss a beat transitioning into his new home. He is obedient and loyal. He never causes any problems but if he catches the tailgate of your truck down, you will take him for a ride around the farm. And if you happen to forget he’s in there, like Jeremy did last week, he’ll still be there when you get back.

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A stray cat had a litter of kittens in the barn on the farm. There was a whole assortment of colors, but I was always drawn to a little silver tabby kitten. I had never owned a cat, and had no plans to own one. I got more and more attached to this kitten, and I was increasingly concerned something would happen to him. I named him Kentucky because he reminded me of a little wildcat kitten, and I called him Tucker for short. He behaves like a dog, which is probably why I like him. He is very social and occasionally demands your attention. His greatest joy in life is torturing Bob. And his life is FULL of joy.

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I caught Tucker reaching under a closed door to paw at Bob a few weeks ago, and it has been escalating since. I can’t imagine what the two of them would do if Bob wasn’t crated while we are away. Tucker’s favorite behavior is to leap from behind furniture, pounce on Bob’s head, and then a rousing game of chase ensues around the house.

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Now that you have an understanding of why we crate train our pets, I’m going to share a few tips for crate training, and some benefits of crate training your pet.

  • Start crate training as soon as you get your dog. It’s easier to crate train them early and give them more freedom later, than to do the reverse. Bob was nearly 4 months old when we purchased him from his breeder. She crated him with his littermate, and he absolutely hated being crated alone. I struggled for months trying to adjust him to being in his crate alone and to address his separation anxiety.
  • Purchase a crate that they can grow into that includes a puppy divider. Many of the smaller crates are made with smaller gauge wire, and aren’t as durable for a large breed puppy (I learned this lesson the hard way with Bob). It will also seem more like a home to them than if they are transitioning through several crates. They should have enough room to stand up and turn around. If you’re unsure about crate size, visit your local PetSmart® location and talk to a pet professional.
  • Purchase a crate mat or some type of bedding. This will help buffer noise from the crate, and help make your pet more comfortable.
  • You should begin by letting your pet stay in the crate shorter intervals, and work up toward a reasonable goal.
  • Reward good behavior, and ignore bad behavior. If your puppy is laying quietly in their crate an ample amount of time, reward them. If your dog/puppy is howling or barking excessively, do not retrieve them from their crate unless you feel they are about to use the bathroom. Once a dog learns that they will be retrieved or acknowledged for barking or whining, it can be hard to break them from that habit.
  • Place an old piece of clothing that belonged to you, and has your scent on it, in their crate (if you aren’t concerned they’ll eat it). This can be soothing to a pet stressed from crating.
  • Keep fresh water available, but not in a bowl in the bottom of the crate. Dogs like fresh water, but they won’t be happy if they’re laying in a puddle of spilled water. There are bowls and watering devices that attach to the side wall of the crate.
  • Leave a toy or bone to help keep your pet distracted. Many modern chew toys double as dental hygiene products. They can help keep your pet busy, and their teeth clean.
  • Crating your pet will also make travel safer for you and your pet. Who needs an animal excitedly bouncing around the automobile while you’re driving? Just last week I made the mistake of trying to carry Tucker from the house to the car for his appointment with our veterinarian, when a neighbor’s dog approached. He was not a happy cat. We both survived and I had a few scratches, but it could have been worse. Here is a resource for safely traveling with your cat.

I hope that my advice can help you on your crate training adventures, and help make your time with your pet more enjoyable. Your local PetSmart will have a large selection of crates, carriers, and kennels to choose from. They will also have associates available to help you make educated decisions regarding crate selection and size.

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Even my Bob will nap peacefully in his crate now. Check out the progress we have made from puppyhood to today.

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Did you crate train your pet?

 

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5 Comments

  • Reply Dr. Anna Coffin 27/03/2015 at 7:14 am

    I think one of the most common mistakes people make when crate training puppies is letting them out while they are barking or crying. This is rewarding them for their bad behavior. It’s so important to make sure your puppy is calm and quiet before letting your puppy out of the crate.

    • Reply Jess 27/03/2015 at 2:20 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. Once your pet discovers they will rewarded for bad behavior (whining and then being let of their crate), game is over. They will continue to repeat that pattern of behavior.

  • Reply Felissa (Two Little Cavaliers) 27/03/2015 at 8:38 am

    Thanks for the introduction to all the animals on the farm. Sounds like Bob has been quite the handful on the plus side it looks like he adores your son and he has Tucker to keep him in his place now. Rottweilers are such great dogs. My parents got 2 siblings my freshman year of college. Years later when I got Davinia and Indiana and we went for visits their big old male Rottweiler would follow them everywhere tried to get in their crate with them and at night would sleep curled around their crate to make sure they were ok. I can absolutely see how you need one in your life at all times.

    • Reply Jess 27/03/2015 at 2:22 pm

      Thanks. I wanted newcomers to the blog to meet everyone, and understand why crating is important to us. Rottweilers are amazing dogs, and often mistakenly labeled as bad.

  • Reply Carma Poodale 29/03/2015 at 7:57 pm

    Great tips. Love that your family is for the Ky Wildcats!! #GoBigBlue

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