How To Crate Train A Dog

crate train your dog

Congratulations, you decided to crate train your dog!

You will not regret it, I promise.  When you crate train your dog, it provides a sense of security for both your dog and you!  The crate will become their “house” and it keeps them safe from their own devices.  As a result, you will have peace of mind that they will not eat something that could do serious harm.  When crate training is done correctly, everyone will reap the benefits.

How long can a dog be crated at a time?

There is no real answer to this, but as a general rule of thumb, you can estimate this to be as many hours as he is months old, plus one.  Therefore, a 2-month-old puppy should be fine for approximately 3 hours at a time before needing a potty break.  Of course, everyone is different and what they ate, when they ate last, how much water they drank & when will all factor into when they will need to take care of business.  Don’t be afraid to change things that work for your dog’s schedule best.

 

cozy crateProper way to introduce your dog to a crate

The first thing you should do is make their crate comfy.  Try getting a bed that fits well inside.  Or you could try an old shirt or blanket that is folded up.  This will provide warmth and will have your scent on it, making him feel secure.

Now that the crate is dog-ready, it is best to provide your dog with a pleasant experience from the beginning.  The best way to get them acclimated is to toss treats or toys into the crate.  They will be excited for yummy treats so they will be eager to go inside.  Let them go in and out by keeping the door open while you are home.

Another great way to get your dog to enjoy his crate is to feed them in the crate (while keeping the door open).  Have him go inside and then eat his breakfast or dinner.
After your dog is somewhat used to their crate, you can begin closing the door.  You will want to make sure he is settled and will not try to fight his way out of it when you are not home.  If a dog cannot handle being locked up, he will do whatever it takes to break out.  This could mean, scratching incessantly, biting on the door/sides of the crate, manipulating the sides of the crate, etc.  All of these actions can pose just as much risk to your dog’s well being as leaving him un-crated; think broken nails, broken teeth, getting stuck between the wires in a metal crate, etc.  If your dog cannot be crated, try gating him in a puppy-proofed room where he won’t harm himself by trying to break free.
When you begin crate training with the door closed, have your dog stay inside for short amounts of time to test how they are.  Start with 5 – 10 minutes and gradually build on the time.  Don’t let their whining deter you.  Dogs are like toddlers, they are manipulators!  They know that crying can get them what they want.  The key is consistency.  A general rule of thumb for whining/barking dogs is to have them stay quiet for 3 minutes (or longer) straight before you take them out of the crate.  Otherwise, they are learning that whining and barking work.
If you give in, they will register that crying gets what they want.
Be strong, you can do it!

When can I stop using the crate?

When you believe your dog has matured and will not eat you out of house and home, you can try weaning them off of the crate.  My suggestion is to wait until they are at least 1 year old, preferably 2+ years old.  Even though a 1 year old day will be potty trained, they still have chewing tendencies that can get them into trouble.

The best way to do this is to give them small doses of “freedom” and seeing how they are at each interval.  Assuming things are fine, you can increase the length of time at each instance until you feel confident that things will be okay.  Don’t be surprised, however, that after weeks of perfect behavior, you come home one day to a house that looks ransacked!

If your dog is still getting into things and cannot be trusted while home alone, keep him crated.  It really is the best thing for everyone.

Just remember, a crate can provide peace of mind for both you and your dog.  The old adage is true, “Better Safe Than Sorry”!

Crate Training – It’s a GREAT THING!

If this looks familiar, think about crate training your dog!

Crate training

Crate training your dog is an essential in puppy training and keeping your dog safe.  Dogs cannot think like a person and, therefore, can be a hazard to themselves!  Do you feel bad that your dog is locked up?  Don’t!  Having them crated keeps them safe.  And if they are properly introduced to a crate, they will enjoy having a space of their own and will seek it out, when they want to relax.
Do you feel bad keeping your dog safe from harm?  Absolutely not!  You would do anything to protect your dog and keep him safe.  Would you feel terrible if your dog seriously injured himself by eating something that is toxic for him?  Of course you would!  So when you think about crating your dog, just picture the safety and well being you are providing by giving them their own space where they can relax their body and rest their brain.
3 Reasons why Crate Training Your Dog keeps them happy and healthy!
 
1.  Potty Training
One of the biggest reasons for crate training a dog is to assist with potty training.  The idea is to keep them in a crate that is sized perfectly to their body size so that they do not have an accident in their space.  Dogs have no problem going to the bathroom in your home, but they do not like having accidents in “their home!”  Your dog will learn bladder control with crate training and this will get them on a regular schedule, rather than just going whenever nature calls.  It really helps expedite the potty training process and makes everyone’s lives much better.
2.  Limits Destructive Chewing
Puppies specifically are prone to chewing.  Crate training a puppy will restrict them from chewing inedible objects which ultimately keeps them safe.  If a dog is left home alone or without stimulation, he will take matters into his own paws and find ways of entertaining himself.  A favorite method of entertainment is chewing on things that are not supposed to touch!  Dogs can become destructive if bored or fixate on chewing things they shouldn’t, keep them safe by crating them.
3.  Provides Security
Most dogs sleep the majority of the day and, therefore, do not need the space of an entire house to take a nap.  If a dog has too much space, he may become anxious/nervous being left alone.  This type of anxiety known as separation anxiety can lead to destructive behavior.  Crating a dog with separation anxiety usually keeps them calm and provides them with a safe place to relax.

 

Types of Crates

Dog crates come in different sizes, colors, and styles. There are molded-plastic crates and the open-wire types which have a removable plastic tray on the bottom.  Soft-sided crates.  And even decorative crates that are made to mimic furniture.

Molded Plastic

For dogs who prefer a cozy space with less distraction, the molded-plastic would be the best choice. Just note that they are not able to be folded up so having room for a larger crate like this can be tricky.  And you are not able to divide a molded plastic crate into smaller sections for a smaller dog.

Wire Crates

Wire crates are the most popular because many of them fold up and are easy to transport and/or store in an out of sight location.  These crates come with metal dividers so that your puppy can grow into their crate.  You do not want to give a puppy too much space in their crate because if they have an extra inch or so, they will use it to do their business!

Soft-Sided Crates

These are similar to the molded-plastic crates because they provide a more enclosed area that helps dogs to relax and be in a cozier space.  They are able to be folded up so they are similar to a wire crate as far as ‘putting them away’ and transporting is concerned.  However, the biggest difference is because it is soft-sided, dogs can easily break out of this crate, if they put their minds to it.  It is pretty much just fabric so if they keep scratching at it, they will eventually compromise the fabric and break free!  So they are not the best choice for a dog with separation anxiety.

Decorative Crates

These are great if space is limited in your home and you want a combination of both the molded plastic and wire crates.  They are made to look like furniture and it is hard to tell that this is actually a dog training crate, when decorated in your living room!  They are the most expensive, but it’s pretty much furniture for you so that is to be expected.  They usually do not have dividers so it would be best to get this for your dog, when they are fully grown.  And, of course, they are not able to be folded up.

Which Crate To Choose

The size of your dog should determine the size of their crate.  There should be enough room for him to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably.  The crate is a place where your dog can relax, sleep, and basically just chill out.  It is not supposed to provide them with room to be rowdy.

When choosing a crate, you should keep in mind the size that they will be, not necessarily their size at the time you get a crate.  A crate that comes with a divider is ideal for crate training a puppy.  The divider allows you to limit your puppy’s space and as they grow, the divider can be adjusted to give them more space.  The MidWest Life Stages Folding Metal Dog Crate is a great choice for puppies because the crate grows with them!

crate training

 

Whatever crate you choose, make sure you do not use the crate as punishment.  Their crate should be their own private home where they feel comfortable to relax.  If you associate it with punishment, it bring about anxious feelings.  Make their crate comfy, cozy, and serene.  Both yoou and your dog will have peace of mind!

 

How Does Pet Care Relate To My Pet’s Nails?

Nail trims are essential for pet care

As pet owners we want to make sure we provide the best pet care so that our dogs and cats are happy and healthy. We love them so much and care for them as if they are one of our children.  We do our best to provide them with the necessities to live and we spoil them with all the extras that we can!  Part of our pet’s care consists of basic grooming; brushing, bathing, and keeping their coat under control.  The most important grooming task that some pet owners forget about is keeping your pet’s nails trimmed.

Did you know that keeping their nails trimmed improves their quality of life?  Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?  But I can assure you that it does!

Just think about how uncomfortable your toenails can be if they get ‘too long’.  You can feel pressure on your toes with each step that you take.  The longer your toenails get, the more pressure and discomfort you feel.  Your pets are no different.

Long nails are not good for pet care
These nails are TOO long!

If your pet’s nails get too long, they can experience the following problems:

  • Nails can tear which can be painful and/or become infected
  • Pets can walk incorrectly due to long, painful nails which can strain their leg muscles and even strain their back
  • Nails can grow directly into the pads of their paws – can you imagine walking with a toenail that has grown into the bottom of your toe? OUCH!
  • Dewclaw nails can grow directly into their leg which is very painful and can cause our beloved pets to become aggressive
  • Pets can actually become clumsy as long nails can throw off their traction and cause them to slip

Knowing the problems that long nails can cause, you are probably wondering how long is too long?  Well, if you happen to hear clicking as your dog walks around the house, then their nails are likely too long.  Try pressing your dog’s toe so that the nail is fully extended.  If the nail curves beyond the toe pad, it’s too long.

If you see tears in your couch or curtains from your cat, those can be indications that your cat needs their nails trimmed.

What To Do About Long Pet Nails

The easiest way to avoid cutting your pet’s nails is if their nails are filed down naturally.  A great way to help avoid cutting your dog’s nails or stretch out the time in between trims is to take him/her on daily walks on a hard surface.  The benefits of taking your dog on a daily walk keep getting better and better!  If you don’t have enough time to walk your dog daily, hire a professional dog walking service such as Muddy Paws!  Muddy Paws provides dog walking in Woburn, Melrose, Medford, Lexington, and many more towns!  We offer a variety of walking services and have a convenient scheduling system.  Learn more about our services and get started today.

For cats, the best way to naturally wear down their nails is for them to use a scratch pad.  There are a variety of these products on the market for cats.  A customer favorite seems to be the Bergan Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy.  It seems that every cat we visit has this toy or something very similar!  If you are in the market for a new way to spoil your cat, try a scratch pad.

In conclusion, active dogs (and playful kitties!) tend to keep their nails at a healthy length as they wear them down on their walks, but most dogs do need regular nail trims.  And, unfortunately, the majority of dogs do not like having someone touch their nails, never mind with strange objects like a nail clipper or grinder!  Knowing what you can handle is very important.  Anyone can technically cut nails, but being overzealous or inexperienced can lead to big problems.  Don’t be afraid to seek help from professionals.  They are professionals for a reason; let them do what they do best.  If you are looking for a mobile nail trim, Muddy Paws can help you in that area as well.

Happy Trimming!