When you bring a dog home for the first time–whether a puppy or adult dog—you’ll probably spend some time dog-proofing the space, setting up food and sleep areas for the dog, and getting everything lined up for an easy transition. One way that many people work toward a smooth transition for a new dog is by crate training. Crate training is not only helpful toward the house-training process, but it has other benefits as well. Learning more about crate training will help you decide whether it’s a good choice for your pup.
Crate training is predominantly used, at least at first, to help a dog become housebroken. Dogs don’t like making a mess of their living space, so keeping them in a crate for reasonable time periods can help them learn to hold it until they get to go outside. There should be enough room for the dog to stand up, turn around in a small circle, and lay back down comfortably. The crate should be big enough to be safe and comfortable, but small enough so that the dog can’t use the bathroom in it and then find clean respite away from the mess—this is paramount to the crate’s effectiveness with housebreaking.
Creating a Safe Space
Another reason crate training is considered beneficial is because dogs feel safe in these enclosed spaces. The crate serves as a place akin to a bedroom, where the dog can lay comfortably and play with some toys. These spaces are ideal during times when the dog may feel scared (during thunderstorms or when fireworks are loud), because the dog can go to its crate and feel safer.
How Long Should You Crate Your Dog?
Generally speaking, the rule of thumb when crate training is to leave the dog no longer than one hour for every month of age—topping out at around nine or 10 hours, which amounts to how long the standard workday plus commuting would be. Of course, the dog should be exercised before and after—and if the dog can’t make it that long without soiling the crate, owners should hire a dog walker to visit midday to avoid accidents and to help keep the dog optimally healthy.
Crate training is usually recommended until the dog grows out of adolescence—when they are about a year and a half old. After that, the dog can be left out of the crate, but you should do so little by little, since young dogs sometimes may still chew on things or be otherwise destructive.
Using a crate can create peace of mind for both you and your dog—if you’re unsure of where to get started, talk to your vet or a local trainer for some pointers.