Why it pays to use crates when training puppies

Puppies make great additions to a household. Parents often find that dogs can teach youngsters lessons about compassion and responsibility, while moms and dads enjoy the companionship and unconditional love their dogs provide.

As first-time dog owners learn shortly after bringing their puppies home, pets require a lot of work. That's especially true of puppies, which must be housebroken so they can learn to live within the structure of a family. Crate training, which is supported by the American Kennel Club, is a great way to teach puppies proper behaviors and to get them to adjust to their new lives.

Many dog owners, particularly those who have never before had a dog, may hesitate to employ crates to train their puppies. That's understandable, as on the surface it can seem cruel or inhumane to confine a living animal to a cage. However, the AKC notes that dogs are den animals that naturally seek out canine caves for security. That's true whether dog owners provide crates for their puppies or not. So while humans may see crates as cruel, dogs very likely view their crates as secure places where they can go if they get scared or feel skittish. In fact, according to the AKC, dogs' perception of crates is one reason why dog owners typically find it relatively easy to get their dogs to adjust to crates and ultimately enjoy them.

The AKC urges dog owners who plan to crate train their puppies to find appropriately-sized crates before they begin training. Crates should be just large enough for dogs to lie down, stand up and turn around. Dogs won't embrace crates that are too small, and crates that are too big will give dogs the impression that they can use one corner to defecate and use the rest for sleep or play. That's the wrong message to send, as dogs should never be encouraged to relieve themselves in their crates.

Crate training can be invaluable when welcoming puppies into a home. Learn more at www.akc.org.

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