Why I Think All Dog Owners Should Crate Train Their Dog
Before I begin - yes, of course I love to cuddle and sit next to my dog on the couch/bed. And yes, I do occasionally cave into his puppy eyes and let me sleep in my bed with me - RARELY.
But when I tell other dog parents this, they seem baffled and confused as to why I "make" my dog sleep in a crate at night and when I leave the house for extended periods of time. But I don't "make" him go in the crate - he wants to, and he goes in on his own! Of course, each dog mom/dad has their own style of raising their dog and that's totally okay! But I wanted to share with you guys why I think crate training is important and why I think all dogs should have a crate.
I'll start with the most obvious reason. For their safety and for the protection of household items (ahem, food left too close to the edge of the counter or shoes that look too good NOT to chew). This is a big ones for puppies especially because they just haven't learned what's right and wrong yet. Putting them in their crate at night, when you leave the house, and even when you're just too busy to keep a careful eye on them will prevent unwanted chewing and mischief. But even older dogs, who know that they are not allowed to jump on the counters or chew anything other than their toys, could slip up and get into something they shouldn't. I trust Ziggy 100% to not eat food from the counters, but I feel more at ease knowing that he won't find himself wanting to eat one of the plants in the house out of the blue.
Another major advantage of crate training is the feeling of comfort, security, and independence a dog can get from it. Ziggy can get very anxious and my instinct is to hold him close to me and tell him "it's okay" or "it's just a box, I promise it's not going to hurt you" (true story). But I have come to learn that that really doesn't console him. I read an interesting article that stated that telling your dog "it's okay" in stressful situations doesn't help at all and can even make the situation worse for them. I can't find the article now, but in short, dogs link your words and tone to the thing that is making them nervous and it just emphasizes that they are in scary situation rather than relieving them of the fear.
Perhaps I will write another post about how to keep your dog calm in stressful situation, but back to my point - words can't console dogs, but giving them a safe space can! When Ziggy gets nervous, I noticed that he hides behind chairs or any other large object or run to his crate if it's in close proximity. So I decided to make his crate even cozier than it was before. I got a soft cushion for the bottom, a blanket for him to curl up under (yes, he sleeps completely underneath a blanket most nights), and I covered the top and sides of the crate with a blanket. He used to try to run from me when I told him to go in his crate, but now he LITERALLY doesn't want to spend time anywhere else! And I am a lot happier knowing that he feels safe and he has his own spot he can feel comfortable in.
I also feel that he has become a lot more independent since he has become more accustomed with his crate. For the first several months that I had him (and in reality, still to this day) he was very attached to me. He didn't trust many other people, he followed me everywhere I went, and acted off whenever I was gone for a long period of time. He still is like this, but I have noticed that he is a little bit more independent because when I am gone, instead of staring at the door wondering when I'll be back and feeling anxious, he knows he has his own spot in his crate where he feels safe.
Imagine if you didn't have a space of your own - you would feel sort of out of place, right? Where would you sleep at night? Where would you go if you weren't feeling well or were feeling a little down? Humans and dogs are social creatures, but everybody needs time to their self and place of their own.
It may not be easy to crate train your dog (they usually resist at first), but I promise that in the long run, your dog and you will be a lot happier that you did.