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Why Crate Train Your Dog?

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How Long to Crate Your Dog continued...

If you’re using the crate for house training, remember that it’s a temporary tool. Your goal is to create a dog who can be trusted to have freedom in at least part of your house while you’re gone. When you’ve accomplished this, you can still keep the crate for your dog to sleep or hang out in. Just remove the door or leave it open.

An adult dog can be crated for as long as eight hours on occasion, but daily crating of this length could compromise your dog’s mental and physical well-being. Be sure that she’s received adequate exercise before a long stay in the crate-at least 30 to 60 minutes. If your dog is crated overnight as well, she should receive at least 60 to 90 minutes of outdoor exercise in the morning and before being put back in the crate at night.

When NOT to Use a Crate

Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety should not be confined in a crate. (For more information, please see our article, Separation Anxiety.) If your dog shows any of the following signs of separation anxiety, please see our article, Finding Professional Help, to locate a qualified expert in your area:

  • Destructiveness, vocalizing or house soiling during the first 30 minutes after you leave your dog alone in the house
  • Destructive behaviors that consistently occur only when she’s left by herself in the house
  • Destructive behavior directed at windows, doors, flooring in front of doors or items with your scent, like seat cushions or the TV remote

Some dogs don’t tolerate crating well due to other types of fears or anxieties, like thunder phobia. Don’t crate your dog if you see signs of anxiety when she’s crated, such as:

  • Damage to the crate from your dog’s attempts to escape
  • Damage to surrounding objects that she’s been able to reach while inside the crate
  • Wet chest fur or a lot of wetness in the bottom of the crate from drooling
  • Urination or defection in the crate
  • Your dog moves the crate while she’s inside
  • Excessive barking or howling during your absence (You can get reports from neighbors or record your dog’s behavior using a video camera.)

In addition, don’t crate your puppy or dog if:

  • She’s too young to have sufficient bladder or bowel control
  • She has diarrhea
  • She’s vomiting
  • You must leave her alone for longer than the time indicated in the crate duration guidelines above
  • She hasn’t eliminated shortly before going in the crate
  • The temperature is uncomfortably high
  • She has not had sufficient exercise, companionship and socialization
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