Why We Believe in Crate Training Our Dogs

“Do you crate your dogs?”  The emotional content behind the question traveled through the phone lines. The woman who asked waited for my answer. I thought to myself: if that’s what I need to do to adopt one of these dogs, of course I’ll use a crate.   That conversation happened 16 years ago and with variations in how we crate, we have been crate training dogs ever since. Occasionally,  I write articles about it. Like this one.

Each time we add a new dog to our “pack” I know that our success rate for introducing that pup will be off the charts for success because we use crates. We use them all the time. There’s one in the back of my Volvo wagon so that whichever dog I’m taking with me has a safe place to travel; the Great Dane sized crate takes up one end of our kitchen. It’s been taken over by Josephine, our 14 year old whippet. That crate is always open so that she can go in and out at her leisure, it’s well padded with dog beds and is by far, one of the best hang out places on the first floor of our house. There’s a wire crate upstairs in one of the bedrooms – when the humans are leaving and all of the dogs are staying home, that’s where you’ll find Tessa.

Eight days ago, we brought Gracie home from Lollypop Farm. She’s a young pit bull terrier mixed breed with a sweet nature – for reasons that we’ll never know, she was an owner surrender this past December to Rochester Animal Services (RAS). She was there for a month before being moved out to Lollypop Farm in January.  She walked out of Lollypop Farm and into our lives on April 5th.  Living in a kennel environment is what she knows. What better place for Gracie to settle in and begin to find out about her new environment than in the safe confinement of a well stocked wire crate (a brand new padded dog bed layered on top of a lightweight wool blanket, one red blanket tossed in for burrowing purposes and a Kong toy or two) that for all practical purposes is a smaller version of a kennel run?

On the day we brought her home, that crate was her point of reference – in smaller size it was what she knew from her shelter life. It was a safe place where she could watch and begin to figure things out.

"female pit bull terrier standing in kitchen"We set her up in the dining room which gives her visual access to all of our downstairs. She can see people coming in and out of the house from our front door, she can keep track of what’s going on in the kitchen which has a baby gate separating it from the rest of the downstairs.  Think of that baby gate as an extension of a crate — it limits a dog’s access to the rest of the house. For lots of reasons. Reasons that are similar to the reasons you put up baby gates to protect a human toddler.

Baby gates expand the concept of a safe crate to a larger area.  Want to expand to an even bigger, crated space? Fence your yard.




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