Using Crates

There seems to be a lot of controversy on the topic of crates. Some people see them as little prison cells. In reality, a crate mimics a dog’s den. In nature, canines have a den instinct. This derives from the fact a mother dog raises its pups in an underground hole and therefore puppies and dogs feel naturally comfortable in a small area they can relax in and call home.

Often, you may notice that if you leave your crate open, your dog will naturally investigate it on its own terms and may even enjoy sleeping in it. However, despite being liked by canines in general, a crate should not be over used. This means, you should never keep your adult dog in a crate for more than eight hours straight. If your dog has not met its exercise and social needs even six hours may be way too much. Crates are not storage facilities!

If your work hours are long, hire a pet sitter or somebody that can come in the middle of the day to say hello and walk your dog. Puppies under six months should never be left in a crate for more than four hours. A crate is a great tool for house training or simply to give your dog a place to relax. It is also a safe haven if your dog cannot be trusted in the home.

If you are purchasing a crate to potty train, make sure it is big enough to allow your puppy to stand up and turn around, but at the same time snug enough to not allow him to do his business in one corner and sleep comfortably in another.

If you are rescuing an adult Rottweiler go slow on introducing the crate: he may have never been in one before, and it can be quite intimidating, especially the first nights when he still needs to get used to the new smells, new faces and new noises. Your best bet it to create a safe area with baby gates and put the crate in this safe area with the door open with treats, toys and blankets inside. When it comes time to feed, place the food bowl in the crate, remember great things happen in there!

As he starts associating the crate with positive happenings you can try to toss a treat in there while giving the “kennel up’’ command in a happy voice. Do not close the door as of yet. Let him out and then repeat. When he understands the meaning you can close the door for a few seconds. Do not open the door when he is whining to get out. Open only when he is calm. Remember praise only when he goes inside, if you praise for getting out of the crate he will think that is good to get out, when we want him to love being in the crate, because good things happen in there. As he gets good in kenneling up, you should no longer use a treat to lure him inside, instead you should shift to giving the treat only when he complies to go inside the crate. You do not want to be stuck with a dog that thinks “ hey, no treat? I refuse to go in then”, rather you want a dog that goes in because you said so and that gets rewarded for complying.

After that, you can start giving treats randomly. However, I prefer giving a nice stuffed Kong most of the time, especially when we are heading out somewhere. This will keep your dog occupied for some time and the crate will be likely to remain a nice and rewarding place to be. If you have an adult Rottweiler that is house-trained, the size of the crate does not matter much. You can afford a larger crate that allows more room to stretch and allows your dog some much deserved space without feeling crammed.

Troubleshooting your Rottweiler: Some Rottweilers associate the crate with social isolation. This means that if you repeatedly close your Rottweiler in the crate right before leaving for work, your Rottweiler starts associating the crate with being left home alone. In this case, it is best if you close your dog in the crate and stop giving cues you are about to leave at random intervals. Close him earlier while you are wearing your pajamas. Or close him randomly and just sit next to crate reading a book. You want to remove the ‘’bad stigma’’ the crate may have assumed.

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