Dog Crate Training

Dog Crate Training

Want to know whether you should crate train your dog? Well you are not alone in that question. There are a number of benefits to both you and your dog with training them to get in and stay in their crate. Every year, millions of dog owners around the world learn how to keep their dogs in a crate so that when they leave the house so they can reduce separation anxiety, destructive behaviour and barking. It can also make your life much easier if your dog insists on sleeping in your bed or on the couch by giving them their own special place, and finally it is a very useful tool when trying to house train a new puppy. The Value of a Crate to a Dog The first thing to recognise is that most dogs love a crate – it is not a cage or a prison. In the wild, dogs would seek out small, safe spaces to burrow into to keep them safe and warm. A crate offers that same experience perfectly – giving them a safe space that is theirs alone. Clearly it should be large enough for them to be comfortable (to stand in it and turn around) but small enough to be cosy. Dogs that have full roam of your home will often have trouble differentiating their “home” from yours, and so will grow anxious trying to control and patrol the entire house. How to Crate Train a Dog Ideally, you should crate train your dog as a puppy. A full grown dog that has never been in a crate may have a harder time adjusting to the small space and grow anxious – however as with most things dog related, you can training a dog to accept most things if you make it a positive experience! Initially it is best to place the crate in the middle of all your family activities – where you all spend the most time. Then at night, you can move the crate in your bedroom to give them a safe presence nearby. Eventually, after a month or so, you should be able to leave the crate in one place as the dog associates the “safe place” with the crate not your presence. However in the beginning, be close to them keeping them feeling safe and calm. When you put your dog in the crate, make sure it is a clean, comfortable place to sleep, has a source of water and why not put a toy in it to play with. Now note that the crate should be only big enough for them to sleep in. If they can walk around in it, they may make a...

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Dog Separation Anxiety

Dog Separation Anxiety

A very common problem that many dog owners have is dog separation anxiety. With our busy lives these days, dogs are often left at home for extended periods of time on their own which is an unnatural situation for them. At a minimum, anxiety can just be annoying because your dog barks whenever you leave the house disturbing both you and your neighbours. But if that anxiety is allowed to escalate it can lead to your dog damaging things in your house, making toilet messes, or barking continuously while you are out (really making you popular with your neighbours!) The Sources of Dog Separation Anxiety As I just mentioned leaving a dog on its own is unnatural for them – they are pack animals used to being with others. They do feel a direct attachment to you as their pack leader and so can get agitated when you leave them alone. But actually it is probably specific actions that you take prior to and on return from your absences that can make the problem worse. Even though a dog may not like you leaving there is no direct reason that they should grow so agitated. Often what happens (and be honest if this is you!) is that you make a fuss and give them attention before you leave and then again when you get back. You probably go through the same routine every day. What this actually does on a daily basis is reinforce the anxiety that the dog associates with being left alone. Reducing Dog Separation Anxiety Now there are some simple ways to reduce this anxiety and here are just a few: Change Your Routine Now I know this may be easier said than done but you can start by changing your morning routine. Your dog may start getting anxious the minute your alarm goes off in the morning as they will have associated that sound with the process of you leaving the house. If so, try getting up at different times, getting dressed before or after breakfast, grabbing your keys at different times so that it’s not just before you walk out the door, put your coat outside in the car in advance of you actually leaving, etc. The idea is just to break up your usual routine as little variations can help to reduce the pre-leaving anxiety. Don’t Reinforce It When you fuss over your dog before you leave you are only announcing that you are going to be leaving and thus heralding the onset of the separation anxiety. Likewise when you return and you lavish them with attention you’re only rewarding them for being anxious and thus reinforcing the behaviour. So one of the...

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