Tuesday, November 3, 2015

One of the Most Important Things to Teach Your Dog

After working in the veterinary field for 10 years the importance of kennel training or “crate training” a dog has become more and more apparent to me.  A lot of new puppy or new dog owners say that they don’t intend to kennel their dog when they’re not home and so they don’t think they need to train their dog to go into a kennel.  There are so many other important reasons your dog should be comfortable being in a kennel beyond where you plan to leave him when you aren’t at home.  I like to break things down into lists so here are the top 3 reasons you need to kennel train your dog or new puppy.

1) All dogs deserve to have a safe space: Dogs are naturally den animals. They have an instinct to go to a den where they can feel safe and secure and where nobody else can bother them. That is what the kennel should be for your dog. It’s his happy place. A kennel is a better option than just a bed in an open part of the house because if you close the kennel door it is secure and no other people or pets can get in. This is especially useful if you have small children or other pets. The dog can go there to get a break and have alone time if he needs it. Even if you don’t have,  or plan to have children the kennel is great if you are having visitors or house guests that may scare your dog or make him uncomfortable. When training a dog to a kennel the goal should always be that your dog has a positive experience in the kennel. That means you never put the dog into the kennel as punishment or force the dog into the kennel against his will. The kennel should be set up with a comfy bed or soft blankets inside and when your dog or puppy goes inside on their own they should be rewarded with a favorite toy or treat.  I feed my dog all his meals inside his kennel to reinforce the positive association he has with going inside and believe me he goes bounding into his kennel on a daily basis.

2) You may need to kennel your dog for health reasons: I know this seems far off, especially if you just got a new puppy but sometimes when a dog gets injured it needs to be on kennel rest in order to heal properly. We see this most often when a dog needs to have surgery on a leg or sometimes after a spay or other abdominal surgery. Post-surgery dogs may need to be kennel rested for between 1 and 8 weeks depending on the type of surgery. If your dog is not used to the kennel this can be extremely stressful on both you and him. Sometimes we see patients that need to be sedated daily after surgery in order to keep them quiet and rested in their kennels because they are anxious and not accustomed to it. If you kennel train your dog, especially as a puppy, your dog will feel content and secure during the post surgery recovery period (and no need for sedatives!). Even though he may get a little bored or stir crazy it will be nothing compared to a dog that had never had to be kenneled before.

3) You may need to kennel your dog when you travel: This one is pretty straight forward but if you go away on vacation chances are high you may need to kennel your dog. If he stays at a boarding facility or daycare he will likely be kenneled at least during the night. If you are  looking for a friend or relative to look after your dog when you are away it will also be much easier on the person looking after your dog if they have the option of kenneling him if needed.

The biggest misconception I hear about dogs and kenneling is that people seem to think putting a dog in a kennel is mean or a punishment but this doesn’t have to be the case. If you train your dog the right way he or she will learn to love the kennel.  You can still leave your dog out during the day while you are at work but at least you know you can use the kennel if the need arises. Your dog will be more confident knowing he has a safe place all to himself in the house.   

Ok,  I have convinced you to kennel train your dog right?

Here is a helpful link on how to successfully train your dog or puppy to the crate from the humane society of the United States

Thanks for reading!

Dr Ingrid 

No comments:

Post a Comment