By Tricia Roberts
There are differing opinions on whether or not crate-training is a good thing for a puppy. I’m not here to tell you what is right for you and your pet, but I do want to share my own experience.
We got Oliver about a year and a half ago when he was 9 weeks old. We were very fortunate as he was already potty-trained and familiar with a crate when he came to us.
From day one, we used the crate as something positive rather than a form of punishment. We kept the door open while we were home so he could come and go to his safe space as he pleased. At night, Oliver was kept in his crate. If he needed a potty break in the middle of the night (as most puppies do), he let us know with a whimper, and we let him outside right away. As soon as the alarm to wake up went off in the morning, his crate door was opened for the day. He quickly learned that he wasn’t going to be trapped for long periods of time, and before long, he was sleeping soundly through the night.
Anytime we left the house, Oliver was led to his crate. It amazed me that he didn’t delay or whine when he was asked to walk in. We didn’t have an issue of accidents in the crate while we were gone because he learned that it was his personal space, and he didn’t want to soil it.
We’re now on our third and final crate as Oliver has reached his adult size. Originally we had planned to not use the crate indefinitely, especially overnight, but our plan (at last for the time being) has changed. Here’s why.
Not long ago, Oliver was neutered and had to wear a cone for an extended period of time. We thought it would be nice if he didn’t have to go in his crate with a big cone hitting the sides and getting in the way. When given the option to sleep outside of the crate, he declined. In fact he whined when he couldn’t access his crate. He actually preferred sleeping in his crate, even while wearing a cone.
During the day while I’m working from home, Oliver is able to roam the entire house as he pleases. We have 3 dog beds scattered around the house and plenty of carpeted areas where he can nap. Surprisingly, he chooses to spend most of his time napping in his open crate. In fact, that’s where he is now as I write this.
We have started to leave Oliver free to roam while we leave for short periods of time. When we come back home, Oliver runs to greet us…from his crate.
So what do I think about crate training? I think if it’s done properly and not seen as a negative space, it’s wonderful. Oliver has a place of his own that he loves while we’ve had a smooth 18 months knowing he wouldn’t get into trouble while we were gone.