For this season’s pro tip, I identify and respond to five common errors that people tend to make when crating their dogs:
Error #1: Crating only at night or when away from home. You want your dog to be accustomed to being crated day or night, and whether you’re in or out of the house. Therefore, establish a daily schedule that involves crating, exercise, play, socializing, and downtime. Stick to it as best as you can, especially in the early stages.
Error #2: Crating only when you need to. Even the most ardent critics of crating recognize its importance in situations such as being at the groomer’s or hospitalized. However, they fail to see the unfairness involved in asking a dog to crate in an unusual and potentially stressful situation without already being routinely accustomed to it.
Error #3: Crating in a busy area of the house. Crating the dog in the middle of the action is another common mistake. Instead, work with the space you have to identify or create crating locations that are as calm as possible, so that the dog will be less stimulated and more likely to settle.
Error #4: Crating with the door open. This is supposedly to help dogs adjust to the crate “gradually” – well intentioned yet detrimental to puppies and young dogs that end up getting into all sorts of trouble while supposedly acclimating to the crate. Pressuring dogs with a level of autonomy they’re not yet able to handle confuses them and frustrates us.
Error #5: Using a large room or X-pen as a crate. Confining dogs in one big space, room, or X-pen is not the same as crating. Large spaces are not conducive to calmness like a properly sized crate is. Again, we have dogs being given freedom prematurely because we’re afraid to ask them to stay still and sleep for a few hours.