It's NOT a Cage!

      Contributed by Cherri Thomson

      To uninitiated humans, crates may be cages but to the average dog, his crate is his den, his refuge and castle. Experienced dog owners know that crates are one of the safest, handiest, and  most humane ways to contain, train, or transport a dog. So don’t think of them as cages. Think of them as crates -- a real benefit to a happy dog/owner relationship.

      Just what is a dog crate? Well, it’s a rectangular enclosure with a top and a door. It comes in a variety of sizes, and because everyone has their own idea of what makes a perfect crate, designs  vary. The most popular one for Dachshunds is made of plastic or fiberglass. An adult Standard  Smooth would be most comfortable in a Vari Kennel 200 or equivalent size in another make. A Mini fits best in a 100 Size Crate. We recommend the Furrarri, the Pet Taxi, and others of similar design. The crate will cost you somewhere between $20 and $100, depending on what quality of construction you choose. The less expensive models will do the trick, but if you want one to last a lifetime, buy the Vari Kennel or Furrari.

      Many new puppy owners are introduced to crates by breeders who endorse them as the easiest route to housetraining a pup. Most dogs instinctively avoid soiling their sleeping quarters.  Even very young pups will travel to the furthest reaches of the whelping box to eliminate. A puppy who’s been bedded down in fairly spacious quarters like the laundry room can sleep in one corner and relieve himself a fair distance away. But the crate is his bed and that’s it. Owners who couple crate usage with discretion and a planned program usually find that pups are housetrained rather quickly and easily. The usual method is to confine the dog to the crate at night, taking him outdoors the very first thing in the morning and praising him when he relieves himself outdoors. The pup may also be crated when you can’t keep an eye on him.

      At the point when pups lose their milk teeth and acquire their adult set, they feel the need to chew. If a pup must be left on his own while you’re away, he can be crated and given a safe chew toy and you’ll know that when you return your furniture will still be intact.

      Crates must be used humanely. Its unfair to keep a dog crated for an entire day while you're off at work and illogical to expect a puppy to hold it for that length of time. However, if you  or someone else could come in during the day to let the dog out to relieve itself and get some exercise, the program will be more successful.

      Begin a crate routine right from the start. Place the pup in his crate at night and for one to two hour intervals during the day. Give him a chew toy for distraction. As he matures, you’ll  probably find that if the door is left open, he will wander into his crate for a snooze. Dogs recognize the crate as a den where they can rest quietly and safely.

      Never use the crate as a place to put the dog for punishment. It should seem like a perfectly normal part of his life, not a form of banishment from his family.

      Travelling will also be easier with a crate trained dog. A crated dog is far safer in a car since he can’t interfere with the driver or escape an open door. Think of a crate as a "Child's Restraint Seat". Another advantage to crate trained dogs...they are welcome in most hotels, and when you visit non-doggie friends. If your dog has to go to a kennel for boarding, the crate goes too, and reminds your dog of it's own safe home!  Dogs that come back to me for boarding have to be able to be crated overnight and when I am not at home. If they can't be crated, then they can't come to board.

      In short, a crate is a good thing to accustom your dog to. Use it wisely, and you will not be doing your dog any disservice, but rather providing your dog with a secure, safe environment. Start right with your puppy. Buy a crate, and use it properly.

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