Last night I took one of those flights that make you wonder whether you are ever going to put your feet on the ground again.  Flying from Atlanta to Philadelphia in the dark in a thunderstorm; the plane was rumbling and shaking all over the place.  I glanced to the woman sitting next to me, and sighed. . . and she said, well at least she’s doing ok. She motioned down and then unzipped a small, black dog carrier which had been sitting underneath her seat.  Out popped the head of a plucky little Boston Terrier named Rally!  Her owner proceeded to tell me that she doesn’t usually crate Rally at home, but they had been practicing in her travel carrier for the last few weeks in preparation for this flight.

Sitting next to the quiet and pleasant dog for those bumpy, nausea-inducing two hours confirmed something to me: that every dog should be taught to use a crate!  Maybe you’re thinking, “Nicole, my dog isn’t going to be flying anywhere, why should I teach them to use a crate?”  Well friend. . . read on to hear about three situations where crating may be absolutely necessary. . .

  • Overnight trips to the vet.  Extended trips to the vet are stressful for so many reasons including ouchy needles, foreign handlers, and strange noises and smells.  One more stressor. . . spending the night in a crate if you aren’t used to it.  But at least you can practice for that last one.  If you condition your dog to accept being in a crate, it’s one less stressor that comes from the stay at the vet.  And your vet will be happy you did it too!
  • Hotel stays.  My dogs regularly go with me to shows, conferences, and vacations.  So there are times when we stay in hotels.  Rule # 1 of every dog-friendly hotel I’ve stayed at . . . when you are out of the room, your dog must be confined to a crate.  Not the type to take your dog on vacation?  Then think about this. . . what if there was a natural disaster and you were displaced for a few days or weeks and had to stay in a hotel?  Better that your dog already knows how to be in a crate than has a crash course at a busy hotel filled with already agitated guests!
  • Visits with non-dog lovers.  Everyone has a friend or family member who is less than thrilled about your bouncy dog begging for snacks at their dinner table.  If you are hosting a party and your dog becomes overstimulated or one of your guests is frightened by or allergic to your dog, you need to act fast.  Crates are a great way of keeping your pup out of the way of people who are not as attuned to their charms as you are.

Now that you understand why it may be important to crate your dog in certain situations, here are some tips to help you get your dog acclimated.

  • Make the crate a positive experience for your dog.  Make sure he’s got lots of toys and special, favorite chew toys to keep him busy in the crate.
  • Start with the crate in the same room as you are sitting and praise your dog when he is calm and quiet inside.
  • Make sure the crate is large enough for your dog to be comfortable inside.  The general rule is that the crate should be large enough for your dog to stand-up, lie-down, and turn in a full circle inside.

So take a tip from Rally’s owner and start your dog on crate training today!  Your dog may never need it, but if they do, you will be prepared!

Need more tips on crate training your dog?  Check out our website at www.phillyunleashed.com where you can ask one of our certified trainers for advice!