Give crate training a try, for dogs in your life

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Have crate, will travel. The crate is for Fido, a place for him to relax and feel safe, while you, the dog’s owner, travel.

Crate?

Travel means to crank up Bessie and head for the store, go to work, or out for the evening. Why a crate, cage, wire pen, call it what you will? Because dogs left unattended and free to room the house, are often dogs that commit unrepairable and always expensive damage. You know, ripped drapes, tooth marked door frames, carpet holes, clawed door, that sort of stuff. Sound familiar?

Advantages

Here’s the advantage of a crate trained dog, an animal that is at its best when it is under control. He’s pestering you — simply send him to his crate. She’s underfoot and is annoying your mother-in-law, the preacher, or your kid’s teacher — no problem, say “kennel” and she is on her way to her kennel.

Fido is bored, you are gone and he is not only bored but frustrated because he wanted to go for a romp — so he starts chewing on an extension cord. Not good. He needs to be crate trained and so does every dog.

Hunting dogs

For a hunting dog, a crate is a must. Muddy dogs want nothing more than to lie on the back seat and without a crate to ride in, he’ll do it. In short, a dog that is crate trained is a better pet.

Ancestors and dens

According to Ethan Pippitt, a Minnesota based dog trainer, dogs are nothing more than the domesticated form of the gray wolf, wild animals that like the safety and comfort of enclosed spaces — their dens. Pippitt equates a crate with a den, somewhere Fido feels safe and comfortable.

So the question is, how to train you dog to recognize his crate as his den, a place he likes, a place that does not represent punishment.

Start young, said Pippitt, who suggests that crate training is the easy part of house training. The key, he said, is to match the size of the crate to the size of young Fido.

Size

The crate should be large enough for the dog to turn around and lay down in without hitting its head on the top but not large enough that Fido can do his business. This is important because dogs, like wolves, don’t really want to lie down in their own mess.

It is equally important to place the crate near an exterior door so that the first place the dog goes when allowed out of the crate is outside. Only when the dog relieves himself, do you let him inside. He’ll be house trained in just weeks and at the same time he will become very receptive to his crate, or kennel.

Kennel

In fact, the word “kennel” should be spoken every time Fido is placed in his crate. Not every so often, but every time. Fido is a creature of habit and conditioning, he will catch on amazingly quickly.

You may call it Fido’s kennel but he will know it as his den, a place that is his and only his. Our black Lab, Jake, has a wire crate where he gladly spends his alone hours. His crate is seldom closed but he still heads there when instructed and stays there when we are gone.

That is, until he hears the mail lady round the corner miles away. At the sound her truck, Jake lopes to the driveway where he knows he’ll collect a biscuit or two from his favorite lady.

Then it’s back to the den.

About the Author

Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer, and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian. More Stories by Mike Tontimonia

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