To crate or not to crate?

Dear Paws Corner: What’s your view of kennel cages? My wife hates the idea of using one to train our dog “Sandy” but I disagree. What do you say? – Jerry in Las Cruces, N.M.

Dear Jerry: I’m personally okay with the concept of crating (or “kennel cages”). It’s an effective way to housetrain a puppy (who won’t soil a sleeping or living area) and teaches them to stay comfortable and relaxed in a similar container, the travel crate—essential to traveling with your dog.

However, I do see frequent instances where the crate is misused, with negative consequences for dog and owner alike.

The crate also serves as a home or den for your dog. So it has to always be seen by Sandy as a safe place to be, perhaps the safest place in the house for her. If you use the crate to punish Sandy, such as shutting her up in it when she’s being hyperactive or disobedient, she could associate it with negative feelings and avoid going into it.

I recommend you learn as much as you can about using the crate to train Sandy. The American Dog Trainers Association has a list of tips on furnishing the crate, getting her to accept it, and using it as a positive training tool. Find the list here: http://www.inch.com/~dogs/cratetraining.html. It also includes important safety tips, such as always removing Sandy’s collar before putting her into the crate, and making sure she’s not left in an environment that’s too hot or freezing cold.