Canine Chat: Crates are great! 

Otto the Daschund in his crate

Otto in his crate - Credit: Lee Connor

I was recently asked: "If you could give ONE piece of advice to a novice dog owner, what would it be?”

Now, that is an extremely difficult question to answer but, if I was forced, I would say, get a crate!

The word ‘crate’ often summons up quite negative connotations and people quite rightly react against their beloved pet being ‘caged’. 

I well remember the breeder of one of our Dachshunds, saying, when she found out that we intended to ‘crate train’ him, that she didn’t like the concept.

However, on seeing our happy and content dogs, even she has now been won over.

Basically, the crate provides a den of refuge away from the noisy, hectic family life.

The crate needs to be large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around and lie out fully stretched.

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Online photographs always make them look so stark and prison-like – it shouldn’t be like this.

We place warm bedding inside the crate and cover it with a blanket, this excludes draughts and makes it extra cosy and inviting.

Each of our dogs has their very own crate – their own spot in the house (although it isn’t unusual to find four warm bodies snoring away inside the smallest one of them!) and the door is very rarely closed, and they come and go as they please.

One of our boys, Otto, after saying 'hello' to any strange visitors to the house will often take himself to his bed!

Never ever use the crate as a punishment; that is counterproductive.

The crate should be your dog’s safe haven and, of course, no dog should be left alone, crated, for more than four hours.

Crate training is a valuable tool in the arsenal of any dog owner. It can be useful for when you have visitors to the home that don’t like dogs, when you’re travelling with your pet or if your dog ever becomes ill or needs surgery.

Teaching your dog to enjoy spending time in his crate - even when you don’t need them to - prepares them for the time when you just might!

Excellent crate training advice can be found on www.pdsa.org.uk