Friday, April 2, 2010

Let's Talk About the Crate, Shall We?

Recently one of my dear friends from college, Alex Degman got a new puppy. He told me all about how his dog was already potty trained and didn't really need to go to obedience class. He also asked me about putting my dog in a crate. He is pretty much against that. Now, I am a HUGE believer in dog training classes. In beginner class, I might have learned more than Missy did. It put me at ease and gave me the confidence to raise a dog. It was GREAT and I think anyone who gets a new dog should go, whether they've been through the class with a dog already or not. I also learned about crate training from several sources. At first, I was against the idea of a crate but then the Missaroo pushed me to my limit and we were there before Petsmart opened to buy her one.

So why crate? Like I've mentioned before, I have never, nor will ever claim to be a dog expert. BUT here's what I do know from actual experience with Missy. BEFORE the crate, she would have to be locked in a room when I left her. She would tear that room and everything in it apart. She would chew on anything, including the furniture and even the walls. She finally got so crazy she put a hole in the wall by chewing and scratching at it. I have never seen her even come close to trying to scratch a wall when I was home. Missy suffers from terrible separation anxiety. This is part of the reason we did the classes and socialization in the first place. She would also bark uncontrollably most of the time I was gone. Part of the reason for this crazy behavior was because she felt like she had to "patrol" the apartment. She was on high alert. Can you imagine being like that for nine hours a day! It was stressing her out!

Then came the crate. The crate is her safe place. She doesn't have to "patrol," she can just rest. She has never gone in there as a punishment, but rather she is rewarded. She is always told what a good girl she is, and the few times she's actually run inside her crate she gets treats. She does equate crate with me leaving, so that makes her try to run and hide, but once she's in the crate she does GREAT! The crate also makes her feel apart of the room instead of trapped inside it. Now, do I feel bad that she has to be in there? I do because she's in there and alone. That's hard. But I do believe leaving her in the crate as opposed to roaming the apartment is better for her overall health. She's not getting into anything and she's not strung out either. It's what I feel is best for both of us. Alex, get a crate.

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