Crating training is a good thing! A crate will help keep your puppy safe in many situations and is also a useful tool for adult dogs.
Types and Sizes of Crates
There are crates made with wire, crates made of plastic—usually referred to as airline crates, and crates made of fabric. There are even crates made of wood with solid surfaces on top so that they can be used as side tables in the living room.
I used to only have plastic airline crates, but I found that in the heat of the summer, these crates were too hot for my dogs. So I gave most of my plastic crates to the Humane Society and started buying wire crates which would fold up for storage later when I did not need them as much.
Fabric crates are good for when a dog is older and is not trying to chew everything in sight. They are also good for traveling with your pet since they are light weight.
When we brought home our dogs as puppies, we used a crate that fit in the back seat of our car. That way we could concentrate on driving and know that our puppy was safe while we traveled.
We used a crate for Dakota when I could not be in the room with him. We worked with him to get him used to the crate and soon he would walk into it by himself and lay down.
At night, we had a crate next to the bed so that Dakota could be near us. When he fussed, one of us would get up and take him outside to potty. Using a crate kept him safe, helped him become house trained, and gave us worry-free sleep so that when we got up during the night we would not step in something unexpected on the floor.
Here are some of the reasons that crate training your poodle is so important:
A crate …
- Helps house train your puppy. You have to take your puppy outside every hour or two when they are very young, but if he does have an accident, it is easier to clean the crate than your carpet or floor.
- Keeps your puppy safe when you cannot watch him. When I tried to confine my young puppies to a room, such as a kitchen or a sun room, they have chewed table and chair legs, the edge of my kitchen cabinet, and one dog even chewed a hole in the wall—several times! A crate was the only way to keep my household items—and my puppy—safe.
- Can be used for travel, both in the car and at other locations. Your puppy or adult dog will be safer in the car if crated. Plus away from home, his “den” will give him comfort in a non-familiar location, and you will know when you cannot watch him, that he is not harming himself or anything in the room.
- Helps when your dog’s activity must be restricted. If your dog is recovering from an injury or operation and his activity must be limited, getting him used to a crate will help him endure the added “bed rest.” Also, if you adult dog is sick during the night, you do not want him throwing up on your bed if he sleeps with you. Instead, you can crate him at night until he is better. This will work if your dog is used to being occasionally crated. If he is not used to being crated, then you will have a mess in your bed until he is well again.
- Helps your dog when at the vet. If your dog must stay at the vet for treatment, he will not freak from being in a crate because he is used to it.
- Helps your dog when being groomed. Poodles require grooming every 4-6 weeks. Most groomers will use a crate sometime during the grooming process to hold your dog temporarily. If your dog is used to a crate, this will not be traumatic.
- Helps manage multiple dogs. I have 2 to 3 dogs at a time. There are times when I need to separate the dogs or just put one of them somewhere safe for a few minutes. Having a crate nearby for that use if very helpful. We have a crate in the entrance foyer that we use for that purpose. It gets used less as my dogs get older, but it was very helpful for quick “time-outs” when Dakota was young.
The crate we used in the car to bring home Dakota was the same one we used beside our bed at night. We had a bigger crate in the front foyer for use during the day.
Be Careful to not Overdo Crate Use
Like everything in life, you can overdo something which is a good thing so that it becomes a bad thing.
A lot of people think it is cruel to crate their dog at all. They think of the many pictures where dogs are crated in small cages for hours on end. That is abuse! Anyone who crates their dogs all the time is abusing their dog. A puppy should not be crated for more than an hour or two. An older dog can be crated longer, but keep it as short as possible.
X-Pens are also Useful Tools
When Dakota came back from the vets after being neutered, he was wearing the “cone of shame” to make sure he did not bother his stitches. Having the cone on was very hard inside a crate at night, so I instead used a dog bed inside an x-pen. This worked out very well because I could still pet and comfort him and he could sleep comfortably wearing the cone of shame. He liked the x-pen so much, that I started using that instead of a crate at night. I use a tie on one corner to “close the door.” Dakota walked into the x-pen and put himself to bed often when I was busy around the house.
To Sum Up
I know that many, many people train their dogs without using crates. I know it can be done successfully. A lot of this depends on the temperament of the puppy and a lot on the owners. I just think that these people are making it harder on themselves and their dogs by not taking advantage of the “den-like” crates that can help keep their puppies safe when they cannot be watched. When crates are used properly for the shortest time necessary and the crates are sized well for the dog, I cannot think of a better, more humane tool in dog training.