This week's behaviour issue questions involved unwanted digging when left alone outdoors while the owner was more than a few hours out of the house and the unfortunate loss of a Christmas gift for another owner.
For both these households and others who have suffered the loss of various household items and fixtures the solution is the introduction of a crate into your furnishings.
A crate is a natural way to provide stress-free confinement because your dog sees this space as their very own den.
You are effectively providing your companion a room of their own where they will feel safe and settled when you are unable to supervise their activity.
The benefits of crate training and providing this environment are invaluable to both your dog and yourself.
The crate becomes a training aid for house training as dogs will not soil their environment once they are past the puppy stage at around eight months; you have created a safe place for your dog to retreat to where they feel secure in situations they find overwhelming; you have peace of mind that both your dog and your house are safe when you are out for the day; you are creating a replication of housing your dog could experience at groomers or vet clinics which will ensure these experiences are stress-free; and you have a place to put your dog for time out when you have inappropriate behaviour.
The greatest benefit I have found in crate training our dogs is the ability to travel and stay in different locations and environments and have quiet, content dogs happy to settle due to their "room'' being portable.
The best news is crate training is simple and effective and can be taught at any age within a day.
The size of crate your dog needs depends on its breed size; the crate should allow enough space for your dog to stand and turn around in freely.
It does not require large amounts of space to play as the area will ultimately be used for settled confinement.
The steps to follow:
Lure your dog into the crate with a treat
Leave the door open and reward your dog for staying in the crate with treats
Shut the door of the crate and reward your dog for being settled (open the door to reward and shut again)
Leave the room for a few seconds and build to a few minutes, rewarding your dog when you re-enter the room if they remain settled. Ignore attention-seeking whining behaviour.
Build up to 20 minutes of settled behaviour and you have achieved crate training.
Toys can be added to the decor to provide stimulation; a rawhide to keep them busy is a high value reward when crated.
Paw point of the week
Crates are misconceived as negative tools; the truth is your dog will thrive having their own special place in your home.
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