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Why Crate Train Your Dog?

(continued)

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

How to Crate Train Your Dog: The Weekend Plan

Some trainers and behaviorists recommend introducing your dog to a new crate very gradually, over a period of a week or more. This method works well for timid dogs who fear confinement and for dogs who have already learned to dislike crates. But many dogs can learn to use crates more easily, and many people just don’t have the time to devote an entire week or more to training before being able to use a crate.

If you need to start using a crate as soon as possible, try the following Weekend Crate Training plan. After your training sessions on Saturday and Sunday, you’ll be able to start confining your dog in her crate on Monday.

To successfully use this crate-training plan, you’ll need to follow the directions below, step by step. It’s important to avoid skipping ahead and leaving your dog alone in the crate before she’s ready. To confine your dog at night over the weekend, put her in a small, safe area instead. You can use an exercise pen or baby gate to block off part of your kitchen, a bathroom or a laundry room. Make sure that the area is dog-proofed and free of things that your dog shouldn’t chew. You can leave her with something comfy to lie on, some water, her toys and some chew things to keep her occupied. It’s best not to leave your dog home alone at all during the day on Saturday or Sunday. If you must do so for some reason, you can use the same dog-proofed area so as not to deviate from your training plan.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

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