Deciding to crate train is a personal choice. Some people truly believe in the benefits and others don’t. I didn’t believe in it, at least not until we had Molly, a 4 month old rescue from a puppy store.
I never liked the idea of crate training. The thought of my beloved furry friend, alone, made me sad. Growing up we never crate trained our dogs, so it wasn’t a concept I was used to. When we brought home our first puppy as a married couple and someone suggested we try it, I was against it. My husband researched the subject. He found that crate training was promoted as a faster way to house train a puppy. I was all for faster house training but just wasn’t comfortable with locking her is a crate.
But then something happened that changed my mind.
Join us as we reveal the reasons we decided that crate training was the best option for us.
We found our first puppy Molly at a pet store before we knew much about puppy mills. Molly was a very hyper little English Springer Spaniel puppy. She had lived in the store for two months prior to us bringing her home. We found her by accident when we went into the store to just “look”. At the time we had just lost our golden retriever to cancer and was looking for a pick-me-up by looking at puppies. I was not our intention to buy a puppy there.
In fact we did not buy her at that time. But she had stolen my husband’s heart and after a month he stopped by to see if she was still there.
She was. Now at 4 months old she was much too big to be in a small glass crate meant for a 2 month old puppy. The store clerk remembered my husband. They started to talk about the puppy. The clerk told my husband that she would be put down soon because she was getting to old to sell. At that point my husband called me at work to see if we could agree to save her. We did, at a very steep discount.
When we first brought Molly home we tried leaving her gated in our small kitchen. There was nothing in the kitchen except for the usual large appliances, cabinets and a vinyl floor. Just like we did in the old day, we laid out newspaper for her to do her business on and a water bowl. We came home to find the water spilled all over the floor along with her waste and shredded newspapers. It was not a pretty sight.
The next day we left her in the kitchen for a shorter time period. This time we came home to find that she she started chewing the floor molding.
On day three she was put in her crate when we needed to leave the house. Because she had lived in a crate for most of her life she was perfectly happy sleeping there until we came home. It became her safe place that she went to even after she was fully house trained and had full run of the place.
Our new puppy
Fast forward 18 years to our new puppy. Unlike Molly our new pup Bella was not a puppy mill puppy. We don’t know what her sleeping arrangement was at her foster home but she was there with her mom and two sisters until she was adopted. She was clearly not use to sleeping alone in a crate.
The first few nights she barked and howled and whimpered throughout the night. No one was getting any sleep. After a couple of days she got better but still put up a huge fuss that went on for a couple of hours before finally falling asleep.
After about 4 days of this my husband started sleeping in the kitchen with her. It worked. She preferred to sleep on her bed under the table with my husband close by. Now the rest of us were able to get some sleep. I have to thank her foster parents because Bella house trained really quickly so accidents at night were not an issue.
At around three months we started letting her sleep in the kitchen on her own. This worked fine for a while.
But as she grew she figured out how to jump up on our table and counters. The first time she jumped on the table she ate about 7-8 raisins that were left out overnight. If you don’t know, raisins can be toxic to dogs. She was fine. It turned out she didn’t eat enough raisins to harm her. We weren’t sure how she did it, but guessed that she used the chairs to jump up. So we started to remove the chairs from the kitchen every time she was left alone.
About a week later we came home to find her on our table again. This time she managed to open a closed container that had a store bought chocolate pound cake in it. She ate about half of the cake before we caught her in the act. Chocolate like raisins can be toxic to dogs if they eat enough of it. We don’t know how she managed to get on the counter. The only way up was to jump straight up which was a mighty feat for a puppy that only weighed 14 pounds. She is a small dog so it never occurred to us that she could jump more than twice her height.
Deciding to crate train
After that we realized that we just couldn’t trust her. Now whenever we go out or go to bed our little Bella is placed in her crate for her own safety. Remember puppies are not born with an innate understanding of what is safe and what isn’t. They need to learn that from us.
What should you do?
The American Kennel Association recommends that you crate train a puppy. But deciding to crate train your pup, or not, is a personal thing. Before deciding, you should ask yourself this question: Can I really ensure my puppy’s safety when I can’t watch them. If the answer is no, then you should crate train them until they are old enough not to get into trouble.
Also it’s important to teach your dog to be comfortable in a crate. If they ever need to stay at a veterinarian’s overnight they will be crated. It is better that they are taught to be comfortable in a crate before this happens. To learn more about crate training read Crate Training made Easy and How to Crate Train a Puppy: 10 Mistakes to Avoid
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