Crates & crate training
A lot of people don’t like the look of a crate because it looks like a small cage to lock up an animal. Please read why crate training is very important for dogs, especially kelpie pups!
The philosophy behind crate training
Crate training is natural. A wild dog or wolf is born in a den; a very small, dark place under the ground where it feels safe from the dangers outside. Wild dogs and wolves spend a lot of time in their den. They sleep many hours a day and they feel secure from the outside world. For a dog, going into a small confined and dark area is natural behaviour!
Crate training for working dog breeds
A kelpie pup is born with the instinct to herd. The instinct is triggered by movement. For most kelpies it is really hard to relax and shut down without a den: they feel they have to be alert all the time and any movement will trigger their instinct.
When a kelpie (pup) is in a crate, covered with a towel or sheet so it cannot see out, it feels safe and secure and will go to sleep.
There are different crates on the market. We recommend a collapsible metal crate or a plastic travel crate. Don’t buy one too big; the purpose of the crate is to be a small, confined area. A crate too big defeats the purpose. A pup needs to be able to stand up and turn around comfortably.
A pup which has never been by itself in a crate before will most likely cry, bark and scratch the first few times. If you do it right, it takes about six days before a pup is fully crate trained. The younger the pup, the easier it will be!
A few rules
- You are the boss, you decide when the pup goes it its crate. Pick up the pup, put it in the crate and close the door. It is that simple. You can have a towel, toy, some food or a bone in there to make it more comfortable. Sit in front of the crate, so the pup knows you are still there. You can talk with it, or just be there. If the pup whines just ignore it. Remember, this is the first time by itself and whining is normal. It helps to cover the crate so it cannot see out. You can put on some music and it shouldn’t be too long before the pup goes to sleep. The first time is the hardest and all pups are different. It is important to be consistent.
- Don’t leave the pup in there too long. Start off about two hours at the time, and over time you can build that up. You can have the pup in the crate overnight as well; put it in just before you go to bed and let it out as soon as you wake up. If you have the chance, a toilet run during the night is good. Pups are natural clean and most of them won’t soil their den. If you leave a pup in the pen for a few hours, the first thing it will do after you let it out is go to the toilet. So when you open the crate, bring the pup outside on the grass. Don’t play with it, just stand still and ignore it until it has gone to the toilet. Praise it when it has, then you can bring it back inside and/or play with it. Expect accidents in the crate, especially overnight or after the pup has a big meal or drink. The pup will get used to its new routine quick and there is nothing to worry about.
- Do not let the pup out when it is crying or barking. A pup doesn’t know right or wrong. It learns by the reaction followed by its action. If it barks and the door will open, you teach it that barking will open the door and next time it will keep barking until the door opens again.
The benefits of crate training
- Anxiety issues A lot of dogs have separation anxiety issues, because they are used to having a human around at all times. Spending time by itself in a crate from a young age allows the dog to be a dog, to have it’s own time and be ok when no one else is around.
- Traveling If you are going somewhere and you take the crate with you, the dog will feel safe because you took its den! It will sleep in its crate anywhere without any issues! You can even have him in there while traveling.
- Destructive behaviour When you are not around and your pup is loose in the house or backyard it canget into all kinds of mischief.But when your dog is crate trained, it will be sleeping for most of the time. You will feel better if you know that your pup is safe and most likely asleep, insteadof being anxious about it wrecking your house or backyardAnd when you get home and let it out, you are there to play with it and you willbe the pack leader! You set the boundaries and he will bond with you.