Monday, July 21, 2014

Importance of Crate Training

Before our puppies are ready to leave on adventures with new owners, I always have their eyes tested by an ophthalmologist.  I do this for my own benefit more than anything but I do feel it is appreciated by their new owner as well.  Mainly I want to know what eye issues (if any) are showing up in my litters and how often they are occurring. It gives me a much clearer picture of the overall eye health of the dogs I am breeding than just testing the parents yearly (which of course we do as well).

My last trip to our wonderful ophthalmologist with puppies resulted in a story I wish to share.

I always strongly encourage my owners to peruse crate training with their puppy.  I do introduce them to a crate here but it is up to the owner to continue moving that training forward.  Most puppies hate it at the beginning, they wine, they howl, they bark, and some will keep you up most of the night.  If you are consistent, use well timed rewards and are super good at ignoring, you soon have a well behaved puppy in a crate.

Mira "Crate training in progress"
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Loki demonstrating some of our crate games


When I have this conversation with new owners about crate training I can often tell that they aren't fully on board.  They listen carefully but aren't really engaged with what I am saying.  Most will go home and give crate training a try, but I think some give up easily or don't bother because they don't see the need.

Sometimes we end up with more than one in the same crate when giving our "go box" command
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Overall the use of a crate seems to be greatly miss understood by most of the pet owning public.  A crate for whatever reason is attached to negative connotations when it should be thought of as a safe place your dog can call its own.

Mylee and Zo taking a time out at a busy picnic
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While at the ophthalmologist an incredibly sweet older collie cross dog was being discharged from having cataract surgery.  He was at least 10 years old and his owner was expressing concern about his welfare to the point of being a bit belligerent with staff.  When they brought his dog out to him instead of being relieved that he was ok, the conflict escalated. 

"I have never been away from this dog for more than a few hours in his entire life."

"Can he see?"

"Does he have to be in SUCH a large cone?!"

Looking down, "His bandage is way too tight, it is making his leg swell!"  (pressure bandage)

And then;  he saw it.   The top of his long collie nose was scraped from just below his eyes right down to almost his nostrils and he also had a scrape on his leg.  The man lost it.  He began to yell at the poor tech who was looking after him.

"How did this happen?!"

"Did you let this happen?!"


"I need to speak to the Dr. RIGHT NOW"

"What the @#$# did you do to him?"

The tech calmly explained to him;  "Sir your dog was extremely stressed while visiting us.   We've had three emergency surgeries today not including your dog.  We had him in a crate to keep him safe while waiting for his surgery but he was barking, thrashing and digging at the door of the crate to get out.  He was becoming extremely agitated and was panting a lot, I was worried that he was going to injure himself in the crate.  I decided to take him out and attach him next to the crate while we worked on other patients nearby.  He was calm if we were was close but very stressed if no one was right beside him.  I think he scraped himself on the bottom of the crate door trying to get free.  I'm very sorry, we did clean it up and put ointment on. It should heal in a few days."

The man's rage grew.

"THIS DOG HAS NEVER BEEN IN A CAGE IN HIS ENTIRE LIFE!"


There were a bunch more of sentences after that but it was all I needed to hear to have my heart break on the spot for that sweet senior dog who had never experienced being in a crate.

At almost 6 months old Ruffi is a little lady about going and staying in a crate
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Even Zo is much better about being in a crate than she used to be
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Even if you don't see the point of crate training now for your lifestyle, please don't let your dog end up being like this poor senior.  It's just not fair.  Undergoing a painful surgery and recovery in a strange place, with strange people is enough for any dog to handle in one day.

Introduce a crate early and train it often.  It is a life skill. You may not need it today but you will need it at some point and be thankful for it. 

Our puppies and dogs are crate trained using Crate Games developed by Susan Garrett

2 comments:

  1. I can not thank you enough for this post. There is nothing so stressful for everyone in the vet clinic (both staff and patients) as a dog that has obviously never been crated. All it takes is a little effort on the owners' part when the dog is a puppy, and it saves hours (or days) of distress later in life.
    When I got Yuki at 9 weeks old, she had never been crated. Within a week, she would put herself in the crate to take a nap. It's so easy to do, I don't understand why so many people refuse to crate train.

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  2. The crate games DVD was the largest influence in my dog training. I think every new puppy owner should have it

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