Frequently Asked Questions
What about puppies and cage use at night?
It is acceptable to use the cage at night in your bedroom with puppies. Night time is usually a challenging time with new puppies, and they may whine or bark in the cage. As noted above, it is important to use a distracting noise to get your puppy to stop the behavior temporarily, and only release your puppy from the crate after the behavior has stopped. For puppies under 4 months, you may need to take out your pup to eliminate once during the night. Never leave your puppy alone in the crate longer than he can "hold it."
WHERE should the cage be located?
Dogs are social animals, so they like to be around the people in your home. Whenever possible, place the crate in a location where your family spends a great deal of time. Do not isolate the cage in a furnace room, laundry room, or any other room in which you don't spend a lot of time. If your dog already has a favorite spot in your home, start by placing the cage there. You can always move it if needed.
WHEN should your dog be placed in the cage?
The number one rule with a cage is that your dog should never be placed inside of it as a punishment! Always have a separate place (e.g., bathroom) for "time outs."
The ideal time to use the cage is after your dog has had play and exercise, time to eliminate, and is calm and fed. For puppies, choose a time when the pup is ready to nap. This helps establish early on that the cage is a relaxing refuge. Your dog should be ready to sleep, relax, or chew quietly on a toy when placed in the cage. Nighttime is an ideal time to use the cage. During the day, we recommend your pet spend no more than 5 hours in the crate. Make sure to crate your dog both when you're at home and when you need to step out. That way, crating your pet doesn't always mean you are leaving.
A cage or crate is ideal for auto travel with your pet, also. Plan long trips only after your pet is fully accustomed to the cage, and be sure to schedule stops where you can allow your pet to get out on a leash and eliminate, exercise, and play.
HOW do I introduce the cage?
When you first bring home the cage, let your dog explore it on his own. Toss in a few of your dog's favorite toys or treats, and always praise your dog if he goes inside. Leave the door open during the introduction period, and NEVER force your dog into the crate. Use a command phrase each time your dog goes into the cage, so that your dog will learn to go into the cage on command. Say the word "kennel", "go to your crate" or other short phrase (that you use consistently). Select one phrase and have everyone in family use this same phrase every time.
You could even feed your pet's meals in the cage, so your dog goes in willingly and associates the cage with good things. Outside of mealtime, continue to occasionally toss treats or dry food in the cage to entice your dog to go in. Again, this will reinforce your dog's view that the cage is a positive place.
Once your dog enters and exits the crate willingly, close the door for a few seconds or a minute. Remain close to the cage and praise your pet while he is inside. Then, let him out in a calm manner, without using words or making a big deal of it.
At first, start with short confinements (no more than 30 minutes) and gradually lengthen them over the course of several weeks. Keep your departures and arrivals low key. Let your dog have safe toys in the crate, and ignore your dog if he starts to whine, dig, or bark in the crate. Wait until these behaviors stop before releasing your pet.
If you absolutely need to remove your dog at a time when he is barking, etc., try to temporarily stop the behavior with a distracting noise (shake a can full of coins). The sound should not be one that causes fear or anxiety and it should be a remote sound (your dog should not see you making the sound). Once your dog is quiet for at least 10 seconds, go to the cage and release the dog.