USING CRATES, GATES AND BARRIERS

A dog’s most basic need for safety is a shelter or a den. While you may feel that your whole house should be your dogs den, it can often be a too large a space for him to feel secure and especially when you go out and leave him on his own. This may cause him to feel stressed and confused, rather than safe and sound.

As humans we can think that enclosing our dogs in a crate, in a room, or behind gates in our home as imprisoning our dog.  We instinctively feel uncomfortable because that is how we feel as a human, but dogs do not feel the same as us.  They need less space, rather than more space to feel secure.  Using a crate or pet carrier, baby gates and barriers will help you to safely confine your dog to ensure his well-being.

A crate = “home sweet home” for your dog

A properly introduced crate or pet carrier will be your dog’s sanctuary. Because it provides the comfort and security of a den, a crate can be the ideal place for your dog to sleep and get away from household activity. A crate also helps with his housebreaking and obedience training, and brings you peace of mind knowing he and your house are safe from harm or mischief. For full details of how to crate train your puppy or dog and how to use it effectively click here.

Baby gates and barriers = a “safe place” for your dog

babygatedog2An alternative to a crate is keeping your dog in a dog-proofed part of your home, such as a study or utility room. You can use a baby gate (or a taller dog gate) to keep your dog in a room or to block your dog’s access to any areas of the house you consider to be off-limits, for example, upstairs.

You can also use a barrier to:

  • Block your dog’s access to a new baby’s room.
  • Block your dog’s access to any area you consider to be off limits, for example going upstairs in your home.
  • Maintain household safety when introducing a new dog to your home. Keep your new dog in a small area behind a gate, and allow your resident dog space to roam and visit the new dog when he likes.  It will give him plenty of opportunity to scent as well as see the new dog.
  • Create a safe environment for a cat you are introducing to your resident dog. A baby gate is easy for a cat to hop over to find safe haven, and keeps the cat’s food bowl or litter box away from the dog.
  • Allow a boisterous and excitable dog to calm down before being introduced to visitors.
  • Keep a dog that is frightened of people safe when you have visitors to your home. This helps keep your dog from feeling stressed as well as keeping guests safe. Be sure to provide your dog with something fun to do while; this not only helps him associate being confined with a positive experience, but also helps prevent him from being bored.  
  • Enable a dog to have peace and quiet if there are lots of noisy children running around having fun,
  • Prevent a dog drooling or begging when you are having your meals.
  • Allow your dog to eat in peace: particularly important if he is bothered about people approaching his food bowl or when he has a bone or chew. 

Do dogs “grow out of” needing crates and gates?

dogincratesleepingOwners often use a crate for a puppy and then remove it when a dog is older.  This can be very unfair to your dog.  If you want to get rid of the crate leave it open and see if your dog finds somewhere else he prefers to sleep.  Make sure this is not in the hallway near the front door or outside your bedroom door as you don’t want your pet dog to have to sleep with one eye open as he feels he has to guard the entrance to your home or to where you sleep. Don’t force the issue.  Just leave comfortable bedding in a few areas and see if he chooses somewhere.  Don’t be surprised if it is your sofa!  If he has not used his crate at anytime over a 2 week period then you can safely pack it away.  Don’t give it away though because it may need to come out again if your dog has an injury and needs enforced rest.  If he continues to use his crate then please accept that it is important to your dog and let him use it as his own safe place.

If you don’t allow your dog to follow you and you never allow your dog to go into an “off limits” area then after a period of time you will be able to remove a gate and the dog will respect the boundary.  If a dog is allowed access at some times to for example a kitchen and not at others, your dog will only be able to work out that gate closed means no access and gate open means access, so the removal of the gate will mean he will think he has access.  If a dog is allowed to follow you and you let him sometimes follow you to an area that is supposedly “off limits” then again, he will learn that he can have access and will assume he has access when a gate is removed. The only sure fire way of preventing access is to never allow your dog access in the first place. 

Do crates and gates always work?

Although relatively rare, the simple answer to this is no.  Dogs with separation anxiety can get very distressed when enclosed in a crate.  Dogs can refuse to accept boundaries and either learn to “jump” gates, try to climb under or break gates open.  The need for safety and shelter is just one of your dog’s needs and if all his needs are not cared for, crating and/or gating can create new problems. I can help you determine the cause of your dog’s resistance to crates or barriers and provide ways to help you make sure your dog knows he is safe in your household. 

For expert professionall help and advice with your dogs safety needs

Call Freephone 0808 100 4071

 

 

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