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Crating Done Right: Keeping Your Dog Happy and Secure

Crating is always a hot topic, especially when publications like The Washington Post are discussing it. Last week, we broke down the Post's editorial on crate use and things to consider before choosing to crate your dog. Today, we're discussing Crating Done Right: Keeping Your Dogs Happy and Secure while in their crates.

Crating Done Right: Build Confidence in the Crate

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Your dog should think of his crate as a safe, comfortable space. If your dog does not willingly go into his crate, your dog is signaling a lack of confidence in the crate. On the other hand, if your dog lies in or near his open crate, he's likely pretty comfortable with the concept.

To build confidence, use positive reinforcement, high-level treats, and lots of patience to help your dog become acquainted with the crate. Depending on your dog's background and levels of anxiety, it may take a little while for him or her to accept the crate. That doesn't mean that they won't benefit from crate training - all it means is that you, the pet parent, will have to be consistent and reassuring during the process.

There are many free resources on positive-based crate training online including this guide by the Humane Society of the United States. If you want more creative, engaging ways to crate train, we recommend Crate Games by Susan Garrett. Her affordable and effective program is one of the best out there and will certainly help build confidence and positivity around crate training.

Crating Done Right: Make the Crate Cozy (or Don't)

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Once your dog has accepted the crate as a positive space, it's time to determine how cozy you can safely make the crate for your pet.

Coziness is going to vary based on where your dog is in his or her overall training journey. For example, a dog that is potty training shouldn't have anything in the crate that he can use to pee on and then move out of the way - think towels. Instead, consider a non-slip crate mat that will protect your floors from spills but also encourages dogs to hold their bladder when crated. Dogs are very smart and they are clean animals - they aren't going to urinate in their crate if there is a chance that the urine will end up on their body. If your dog urinates in the crate despite soiling himself, we recommend a vet visit because that may indicate that they cannot hold their bladder due to illness or infection.

Once your dog has mastered holding his potty until he's outdoors or wherever you deem appropriate, you can layer the above-linked crate mat with a cozy blanket, towel, or bed.

Keep in mind, no matter your dog's age, prevent choking and obstruction hazards by removing any textiles if your dog is an avid chewer. It's better to be safe than sorry and, while an empty crate may not be cozy, it's safe.

Crating Done Right: Prepare for Crate Sessions

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Many pet parents rush their pets over to their crates because they are running late for work or appointments. If you do that, you're setting your dog up to associate the crate with a stressful and even unpleasant experience.

Instead, when crating a dog, always check your energy, have treats handy, and take your time. Be intentional about how you crate your dog so that your dog goes into his crate with ease and peace, not yelling and drama.

Always ensure that your dog's collar is on tight enough - only allowing for one finger between the collar and the dog's neck. If it's too loose, it poses a strangulation hazard. Also, remove all harnesses before crating. And, if your dog is healing from an injury or illness, ensuring they are wearing an e-collar while crated will keep them safe from boredom behaviors including licking at the wound, tearing off bandaging, and ingesting unsafe materials including bandages.

Crating Done Right: Break Up Crate Sessions

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Per our blog last week, the key to happy crating is to ensure that dogs aren't left crated for long periods without breaks. While it's common, it's not fair for a dog to spend 8+ hours crated while their owner is at work.

To ensure your dog's health and safety while crated, schedule your days to include a morning walk or rigorous game of fetch or tug before crating. Then, hire a dog walker to break up his time in the crate during your workday. And, if crating at night, give your dog another walk or play session before crating overnight. These exercise and play sessions set your dog up for success in the crate and allow him to meet his need for movement before being restrained.

Also, mind the crate size. We discussed crate size, how long a dog can be crated, and more in last week's blog post.

Crating Done Right: Yorktown's Best Dog Walker

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At Hearts at Home, we recognize that providing optimum care for our pets can sometimes be a challenge. While we believe that all pet parents have the best of intentions when it comes to raising and training their pups, many have to cut corners because of time constraints and other obligations.

Instead of jeopardizing your dog's mental, emotional, and physical health, we urge you to consider our midday dog walking services while crate training. We offer frequent walker pricing for those who need us more than 3 times per week to ensure that our services are affordable for every budget. Remember, you don't have to commit to 12 years of dog walks today, but you can start with one month and give your dog the much-needed break he needs while he's crated.

Our in-home dog walking and pet sitting services are available in Yorktown, Poquoson, Newport News, and Hampton, Virginia. If you are interested in registering your dog(s) with us, please complete a new client questionnaire here. Existing clients may request services here.

Please visit our website or contact us by email at or by phone at 757-745-9868 to learn more. Happy crating!

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