Crate Training for Rescue Dogs
Crate training has been one of the more controversial dog training methods in the last several years. While some parents believe that leaving a dog in a crate for extended periods of time is inhumane, others think that crates actually help foster a dog’s natural instinct to find a cozy space where they can relax and go to for safety and comfort. As dogs are den animals, this theory that crates are good and instinctual is compelling.
In need of comfort, rescue dogs could especially benefit from crate training. Rescue dogs, either from shelters or animal rescues, come from all different places. Many come in as strays from the plains, landfills, or big city alleys. Others may be taken from hazardous conditions, like those of puppy mills or dog fighting rings. Rescue dogs might even be surrendered for various reasons, including that their previous owner didn’t have time or was moving.
They may have different experiences and potential traumas, but rescue dogs are said to be some the most loving and loyal dogs you’ll ever meet. Loving or not, rescue dogs can have their fair share of issues even after they are brought to their forever home.
Fortunately, some of these potential issues could be solved by implementing a crate into their daily routines.
Benefits of Crate Training for Rescue Dogs
Crate training involves teaching your dog to spend much of its time inside the crate for various reasons. Rescue dogs, especially young puppies, might benefit as crate training will make house training easier. Usually, dogs will not defecate or urinate in areas where they intend to eat and sleep. This means that puppies or untrained dogs are less likely to go potty inside the crate.
Dogs can go to their crate when they are left home alone as it could keep them from getting into trouble or into substances they shouldn’t be near. Keeping them in the crate while you’re gone could also help protect your furniture from unwanted chewing and damage.
Crates can also be a place that’s comfortable to go to when dogs are anxious because of loud noises as well as when they are healing from an injury. Dog crates also make travel easy and make dogs feel more relaxed while you’re on a trip.
Choosing a Crate and Accessories
For your rescue dog to get the best benefits from their crate and crate training, it’s important that they have the right crate for them. A crate needs to be tall enough that your dog can stand up straight without dipping their head. They should have a little bit of room above, so they are not bonking their head on the top.
They’ll also need enough room to fully lay on their side and stretch out. They shouldn’t be cramped as crate training might become an unpleasant experience in this case.
Bigger crates are not always better because in crates that are too big, dogs might decide to defecate or urinate in the crate because there’s enough distance between their food and water bowls and the area they choose to potty on.
If you have a puppy, it’s important to know that your puppy will need a bigger and bigger crate as they age. There are some crates that come with adjustable partitions, which can make this process easier.
In addition to having the correct crate size, it’s necessary to have the appropriate accessories. The best crate will have simple accessories that provide comfort and a little enrichment if your pup will be left in it for some time.
You should consider getting a soft and supportive bed that’s scratch and chew resistant. You may also want some chew toys that are durable because you don’t want a toy that will break or fall apart. Lastly, you should have water and food bowls.
Additionally, you should put the crate in a quiet and calm area of the house to help with your dog’s comfort.
How to Crate Train your Rescue Dog
Crate training can take anywhere from days to weeks, depending on your dog’s age and how consistent you are. Consistency and patience are especially important for rescue dogs.
Set Them Up for Success
Before you start crate training or leaving your dog in the crate, you should make sure that they’ve had plenty of exercise. This will make the training process easier as dogs can focus more on what you’re trying to teach them.
It might be best to take them for a walk in the morning or have a ball-throwing session in the backyard.
If you intend on leaving your pup in the crate for some time, you need to make sure that your dog has been able to potty beforehand. This will discourage accidents.
Once your rescue pup has had enough exercise and they’ve gone potty, you need to make sure that they have all their cozy and comforting items inside the crate. You can put their bed inside as well as their favorite toys. This will encourage them to explore the crate by themselves. If they do, you can reward their good behavior with a treat or another type of praise.
A great way to make crates positive is to feed your dog inside the crate. While they’re eating, you can start closing the crate door, showing them that it’s okay when the door is closed. In addition, you can play with your dog while they’re in the crate.
Once your dog has gotten comfortable inside of the crate, you can start increasing the time they spend inside. You should set it up as if you’re leaving for the day by giving them their toy and potentially a treat. In the early stages, you’ll want to stay nearby in case anything happens.
Start with leaving them in for 5 minutes and gradually add time to make them more and more comfortable.
At some point, you’ll have to leave your dog’s side when they’re in the crate. Like you did with time, you’ll start increasing the distance you walk away from the crate. You can start going to different rooms and maybe even go outside for a few moments.
Increase Time and Distance
To start preparing your dog for a few hours in the crate, you can start increasing your time and distance from your dog. Go to another room for a few more minutes. Progressively get farther away and for longer durations. When you come back, it may also be a good idea to reward your behaving pup with a snack or some scratches.
As mentioned before, crate training can take some time. Keep in mind that your dog, especially a rescue, may have struggles. It’s okay to reduce time and distance to make your pup feel more supported.
Crate training for your rescue can provide them some much needed structure and comfort. Be patience and consistent, and your dog will be experiencing the benefits of crate training in no time.