Think of relaxation. Think of security. Everyone wants to feel safe and secure, and that includes our furry friends. For some dogs, this place of security is a dog crate. After the Seeing Eye in New Jersey was hit by Hurricane Sandy, the school had to move their classes over to a hotel. Normally, they had tie down hooks in the dorm rooms. These hooks attached to the wall, and you had a small cable to tie to it. You would hook the other end to the dog’s collar. However, Seeing Eye instructors didn’t want to have to install those tie down hooks in the hotel rooms, so they chose to get canvas crates for the dogs. Now that renovations to the school are complete and classes resumed at Seeing Eye’s normal location, instructors decided that the crates would also move to the dorm rooms. Now, blind individuals did not have to tie their dogs up to the tie down. They can place them in the crates. I for one am glad for the change. The crates are comfortable for the dogs. They can stretch out, stand up, and still see what’s going on outside of the crate through the mesh walls even when the crate door is zipped shut. They have room to move around, so they don’t have to feel trapped. It is a nice little home for dogs. However, not all dogs like kennels.
Sadly, kennels are often used for the wrong reasons. First, they can be used to punish a dog. Sometimes when a dog does something naughty, the owner gets mad and places the dog in the kennel. This sends the message to the dog that the kennel is a bad place, a type of punishment. This can be problematic. Sometimes a dog has to be in a kennel, but that kennel is not going to be a place of security if the dog is afraid of it. Another wrong reason to use a kennel is to keep the dog out of the way so you don’t have to deal with him or her. If there is one thing that saddens me, it is seeing a dog who spends days in an outdoor kennel, no food, water, or shelter from the winter cold or the summer heat. Again, the kennel in this case is not beneficial or safe for the dog. Also, keeping a dog tied or penned up all of the time can cause aggression or hyperactivity in the dog. So, how can you appropriately use a kennel?
As a play pen for a baby can be fun and relaxing, a crate for a dog should be the same. You as a responsible dog owner can make the crate fun. For example, you can keep your dog’s favorite toys in the crate. Also, make the crate comfortable by placing a blanket or pillow on the floor of the kennel. And finally, when placing your dog in the crate, praise and petting helps the dog feel good about the crate as opposed to yelling at the dog when putting him or her in the crate. You can teach your dog to go to his or her crate by saying in an excited, happy tone: “Kennel up” or “Go to your place”. Make sure your furry friend knows that the crate is his or her home. Sometimes it is necessary to keep your dog out of the way, for example, if you have a crowded home. Your dog should be happy to spend some time in the crate because, first of all, he can see out and watch the activity in the house, and second, he can play with his favorite toy or sleep. There is nothing wrong with playing soft music for your dog.
Want to make the crate a resting place for your dog? After taking a long walk or playing with your dog, put the dog in the crate and allow him or her to rest there for a short while. Your dog will soon learn that, when she is tired, her crate is a place to rest. Perhaps your dog is terrified of thunderstorms. Being able to duck into the crate will help the dog feel surrounded by safety, decreasing the fear and anxiety through the storm.
If the crate is used in the correct way, you will have a dog that is comfortable with being penned up for a short time. The dog will not shy away from a kennel like they are afraid. Rather, the dog will appreciate his warm and comfortable home.