Bonita of Bwana
Posted : 11/16/2010 9:18:18 PM
Crating is often misunderstood I hope I can add possibly a different perspective. We Breed and raise Rhodesian Ridgebacks. They grow from tiny pups into dogs that can easily hit 100 pounds. We live in the Hurricane Belt of the deep South in the USA , If you looked at a map , find Alabama and there we are about 5 minutes off the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. People heard about the folks who refused to evacuate during Hurricane Katrina because they could not count on their pets being allowed in Shelters, motels or hotels with them. Had their dogs been Crate trained then most evacuation points now accept them ( it became law they must make sure there is at least one pet friendly shelter for evacuees. Motels and Hotels filled up fast and they prefered not to have un crated dogs laying on the bedding and furniture. RV parks may take you if your dog is small enough but when you have 6 large dogs as we do you need to show exactly how commited you are to a well behaved animal. As the barometer drops and soars it plays havoc with the dog's inner ear. Even the best behaved dog may act out or panic in these circumstanses. So we REQUIRE our families to crate train their puppy in our contract. A trained dog understands the crate is their space, it is safe and a calm space and will happily spend long hours in it should a disaster like a Hurricane, Wild Fire or Tornado turn your life upside down. Another Hurricane thought, our home had over $80,000.00 in damage from Hurricane Ivan , one of the worst parts of course was our fencing being blown 6 ways from Sunday. While I can walk 4 dogs at a time on leads not all the work was outside. When dog leary workmen came in the house it was either allow the just met workers to wander through the house without us; ( most of the workers are hired from a post hurricane migration of folks who flood the area to cash in on the clean up) or crate them which after a brief period of concern about the strangers ( often smelly from power being out and speaking other languages, for the Ivan repairs we had workers from brasil, Mexico, the Domincan Republic, Russia, Canada and our own beloved Cajuns which is a Language of it's own!! ). The dogs settle into a quiet alertness; watching everything from their crates. Since our kitchen, entries and dog room floors had to be replaced that was weeks of people in and out of the home. It is terrifying enough to find your home torn up but far worse to the dogs who have strangers speaking loudly carrying sledge hammers and chainsaws and wandering in and out of your home !
We begin the crate training when they are 8 weeks old. They are fed in the crates, given wonderful treats, toys with food bits inside to pass the time. In return we have pups that feel no need to howl or be in your lap constantly. They are potty trained while Crate training which means when a Litter leaves our home at 10 weeks old they are about 95% housebroken and our families LOVE this! When I open our back door in the morning the dogs all go outside to potty, when I open it again they race to their crate and stand inside with the doors open; tails wagging as they know food will be delivered to them in moments. Like many larger breeds we have to be careful to avoid bloat. Bloating most often happens when a dog over exercises right after eating. With young and energetic Hounds we need to restrict their urge to play all out 24/7. So our dogs eat then have a 45 minute nap while I get the kids ready for the school bus or make breakfast. The Dogs respect and enjoy their crates. When I need to put a dog into a crate that is not theirs it normally annoys them. They like their blankets and toys, they know it is in effect their room. Our Crates can hold a Bull Mastiff easily, We always go for larger than needed crates to assure comfort. We prefer to use Wire crates allowing for excellent air flow but we always keep one XXL airline style crate set up for rescues and visitors who may need and want a quieter and less accessable space. As we work with Rescue a great deal I prefer to keep the rescued dog seperate until I am able make sure they are healthy and confident enough to mix with the pack. Crate training takes less than a week when done right. Dogs are not left crated for more than 4 hours , we arrange our schedules to make sure they are out and walked or playing every 4 hours.
You don't have to think to the extreme for good reasons to crate train. When your dog goes to the Vet and stays for surgery or treatments chances are really pretty good they will spend part or all of their time there in a crate. If they have not been crate trained you are now taking an ill or confused and frightened dog and putting yet another layer of stress on them by shoving them into a crate space they do not understand or appreciate.
When a female comes in season having several adult males becomes risky. Dogs who normally love each other may decide to battle since they are thinking through a testosterone haze. Yet they can be crated side by side and never curl a lip at each other. They even settle down much easier as long as they can see the object of their undying love. Yes we use fancy pants for the female when she is wandering about the house but I do not like to keep them on her non stop. Crating again allows us a chance to limit the mess.
When we have strange children or very elderly guests visiting we realize they may not have the skills to navigate around 6 dogs. Our holiday, Thanksgiving is coming up and this is a classic example of a day when 6 dogs at 75 to 100 pounds eyeing your plate balanced on your knee makes crating them during meals not simply handy but safer for everyone. Our guest list which often exceeds a dozen folks . For them to relax and manage the buffet style of service they should not have to be concerned that the drumstick they were enjoying may be snatched up by a younger dog, or their shoes will be drooled on a couple of dogs ! Not everyone we know is a Dog Person , of course we rarely invite the Non dog folks over but we must be realistic. Far better to have a Plan in mind that will not necessitate your running back and forth to make sure they are not bored or stressed and devouring something in your room out of pique.
My dogs ARE well mannered, they are trained Service and Therapy dogs but at the end of the day they are dogs. Why would I push them to a limit and possibly have them fail when I can remove the temptation and guarantee their sucess? They do therapy work, are amazing with special needs children and fragile adults. They lure course running so fast it brings tears to your eyes at the sheer beauty of their joy and movement. They have titles on both sides of their names for beauty and soundness as well as herding sheep and goats, hunting , Obedience drills and are frequently parts of local parades and school activities. One of my hounds who I loved so dearly was the reason we began to crate train. She had the manners and the bearing of Royalty but she felt we should never be seperated. So when we went to dog shows she would be loose in the RV with our big male and our Rescue Lab. If left even 10 minutes longer than she felt necessary she would become destructive. Taking my purse and dumping it from one end of the 40 ft coach to the other, shredding stuffed toys, paper or turning on water. We sat one rainy afternoon at a dog Show outside the RV with friends enjoying chat and a glass of wine. Jasmine hated the rain and wanted me inside. I felt as I am the human I was not going to allow my dog to dictate what I could do! So I ignored her annoyed barking...When she quieted I thought "See I Won , she can be made to be patient ..... right until we opened our rig's door and found she had turned the faucet on full blast emptying an 80 Gallon water tank on our floor ( sink was covered for driving). Water cascaded down the steps on to our shoes and legs. Everything inside was soaked!! In the end we had to have a new floor and carpeting put into the RV !! And that was not her most legendary of revenge stories. She was most welcomed any where we went and was my Seizure Alert Dog.... But once I crate trained her I lost far less personal property and her damages went from astronomical and evil to just the occasional trick of the moment. People who did not know her well had a great deal of difficulty believing our sweet girl could be such a monster when the mood struck her.
Show dogs are taught to crate train for a number of reasons. To allow them to stay in a motel/hotel room , to allow the owner or handler to leave them and grab a meal. To keep them clean after the extensive grooming many breeds require. To make traveling safer. There are too many stories about accidents and lost dogs because they were not crated. Show Dogs are often handled by professionals and they may have as many as 25 dogs in their huge custom built rigs. Not every dogs is sweet to other dogs so fussing or fighting is prevented by using crates. People who are showing more than one dog in a show ring find a crate invaluable for keeping the extra dogs and preventing them from possibly having strangers hold the leash. Their Crates are often draped with a light sheet when next to a ring to provide them with a calm spot to rest until it is their turn in the ring.
Crating is not exclusive to the USA, well known British Dog Trainer Victoria Stillwell ( It's Me or the Dog fame) is another advocate for crate training to avoid problems when you are not with your dog. For the ease with which it makes housebreaking and simply keeping puppy safe as it grows. I mention her as I am guessing her show may be seen in Australia ? At the end of the lonnng answer I guess the short rreason is Why wouldn't we Crate Train our dogs?