PetSmart®, whose vision is to provide Total Lifetime CareSM for every pet, every parent, every time, believe like we do...that crates and pet carriers should be a safe, happy place that pets will actually choose to go to on their own...we were thrilled to team up with them and spread the word about how great crates are!
My sisters and I, and all dogs in my family since long before I was born 7 years ago, have used crates since day one with our family. For over 22 years, Mommy has been crate training dogs with love, affection, and great success. Dogs don't and shouldn't live in crates, or be forced to stay in them for extended periods of time, but they are a great tool when needed and a safe haven when used correctly. Since we now have four little girl dogs in the family, we call them our "Princess Towers" and we LOVE them. We have open "princess towers" all the time in the house so us pups can go in and take a nap, chew on a favorite bone or toy, or go some place to "feel safe" if we hear loud noises, such as someone mowing the lawn outside (it is getting to be spring after all). Whether we were adopted as puppies or adults, we learned quickly that crates were our friends. Let me tell you what I mean...
Training a New Puppy to be a #CrateHappyPet
"finder of long lost kibble" later in life. Then she started placing me in the crate with some treats and the door closed for only a couple of minutes. I'd cry. She'd wait, and then let me out tell me I was a good girl for being in there. She slowly lengthened the time and would walk out of the room on occasion so I couldn't see her. I'd cry at first, but she'd wait until I stopped for a second. When she'd come back, and whenever she opened that door, it was always the BEST most HAPPIEST REUNION!! Even if it was just 5 or 10 minutes. Within a week, she was taking showers or cooking supper and I'd stay in the crate just for practice. Always, always, when she'd open up that door, we had the most loving time together, where she told me I was such a good girl and I'd get a few treats. She'd still leave it open and inviting all the time, and she soon saw that I'd go in there for naps if she was busy cooking supper or doing something else where I couldn't lay right beside her.
There are so Many Great Crate Uses. Here are some of the many other ways that our family uses crates to make me and my sisters #CrateHappyPets:
1. JOYFUL HAVEN
Now, we sleep with our family members in their beds, and spend the day on the couches, or dog beds around the house near them, or going out with them etc, but we also choose to spend time in our princess towers. We get to choose where we hang out at in the house.
2. REST and RECOVERY WARD
Just like humans, pets get sick, have injuries or need to get surgery sometimes. We use both metal and soft sided crates, depending on the situation, for rest and recovery during those times.
Would it have been better for us to let a puppy with stitches run around all over the place, have full freedom right after surgery and potentially break open those stitches, requiring further surgery? NO. We've experienced that horrible mistake before. Sassy is all healed now and back to full fun times with no crate needed of course. It was just a necessary tool, like being in the hospital basically. If you had surgery, your doctor wouldn't allow you to run around and play would he?
3. SAFE FROM THE STORM
I actually go to one of my princess tower crates at times when my tail nerve pain acts up. I have written about it in previous blog posts about tail docking. It's a way for Mommy to know that I might be in pain if she sees me run to the crate for no apparent reason and act distressed or start going after my tail.
4. LET'S TAKE A TRIP!
5. INTRODUCE NEW FAMILY MEMBERS
We are a family that has both dogs and cats, and we've fostered several kitties over the years. With each one, there's a time of quarantine, then spay/neuter, then introduction into the family. As I mentioned before, a really comfortable crate is an excellent place for a pet to rest and recover from surgery. It's also perfect time for pets to get to know one another from a safe distance, without the feeling of being "threatened" in a way, especially if some of them had a rocky start to life. That is how I got to know several of my foster kitty sisters, including Noel a few years ago. She and I were especially close after we got to know one another. But first, I observed her at a safe distance while she was recovering from her spay surgery in a safe crate. After several days of just looking at her, I eventually sniffed the crate, and one day we finally met. But that crate gave us a safe way to be close without being "too close".
6. TRANSPORTING RESCUE PETS TO FREEDOM AND A NEW LIFE
7. TRAINING FOOD AGGRESSION OUT OF DOGS
Our family has fostered and adopted many rescues over the years, and on occasion there's been a dog who had food issues. Whatever the reason might be, some dogs have a fear of their food being taken away, or they just can't eat around other pets. You can train pets to eat near each other by using a crate. Start by having two pets eating far away from each other, the aggressor in the crate with their food. With a lot of time, and careful proximity, you can slowly bring the two dogs closer together until they are within a few feet of one another. Mommy always recommends giving each dog "food eating space" because that is just proper and respectful to each dog. You can also help train the dog to lose food aggression towards human interaction while eating, but always consult a professional with any questions on this.
MAKE THE CRATE/CARRIER AS COMFORTABLE AND INVITING AS POSSIBLE. Soft bedding, plush padding, bolster blankets around the edges, whatever it takes to make that crate a haven. Try to think of what your pets needs are. Do they have arthritis? Do they get cold easily? Do they tend to overheat? Are their paws sensitive? Alter the customization according to the pet.
DON'T LOSE PATIENCE WITH YOUR PET. They are learning and unsure. They need all the reassurance they can get. When Mommy would put me in the crate (right outside the bathroom) and then take a shower, I cried so many times all the way through Mommy's entire shower when I first was learning about it, but I needed to know it was okay. I wasn't being hurt. Mommy had to let me sit in there, safe, surrounded in comfort, and let me realize in my own time that it was really an awesome, safe place to be when she went to class for 2 hours.
ALWAYS KEEP THE CRATE EXPERIENCE POSITIVE. Never ever punish a dog while they are inside the crate. They can have a few minutes of a time out in the crate, but don't punish, yell or make the crate a negative experience or they will fear the crate.
NEVER TRAP YOUR PET IN A CRATE FOR ANY LONG EXTENDED PERIODS OF TIME. Crates are not meant to be a long term living quarter for your pet. Your pet is meant to live and be with you! I live with my Mommy, sit and lay on the couch with her, sleep on our bed with her, follow her everywhere. However, a crate can be a safe haven in various circumstances, including the ones I mentioned.
These are just a few of the ways that crates can be used in a positive and healthy way with pets to help them be #CrateHappyPets. The benefits of crate training are tremendous and will last a lifetime with your pet. Here is my final thought on why crates are a good thing for pet parents to consider for their beloved little (and big) ones: When used in the manner that I spoke of above, crates are safe, loving way to deal with separation anxiety, travel needs, pet safety, pet health, and pet happiness. When you use a crate for transport safety or to help your beloved pet recover from surgery, and they are surrounded by plush warm comfort better than some humans, and spoiled in the best way with a loving human right there watching over them in case they need anything...how can that be anything but loving?
To learn more about making your pet a successful #CrateHappyPet, here are a couple of helpful links:
PetMD Puppy Crate Training
Positive Portable Kennel Training
SPECIAL PETSMART SAVINGS!
All through the month of March, Petsmart is having a sale on all their pet carrier and containment items in stores. They have a huge selection of soft sided and metal fold up crates, like the ones you have seen in my photos, as well as great looking and highly durable plastic crates. They are all great choices, it just depends on your needs.
Can't find a Petsmart near you? Use this store locator link to find your nearest Petsmart.
So tell me friends, is your pet a #CrateHappyPet? If you have any questions on my experiences I'd love to talk more, so please ask me a question in the comment section.