Crate training is good for dogs AND cats.
Some people think it is cruel to confine your pet to such a small “prison cell” when it is actually quite natural. Veterinarians who are interested in behavioural therapy will confirm: Free roaming dogs and feral cats seek shelter in small, enclosed spaces to avoid being eaten by other predators. Dogs have dens, cats love to hide in dark small spaces. Have you ever noticed, that your cat goes and hides under the bed when company comes over? I realize that most of you are not concerned about a predator eating your pet in your own home. However, it does protect your pet from destroying your property, keeps your pet safe from intestinal foreign bodies and electrocution and it also helps prevent separation anxiety.
Cats who have the crate available to them all the time associate it with a normal safe space – and not with the transport box for terrifying car rides.
Crate training usually takes about one week, even with adult animals that have never been exposed to a crate. Follow these steps and you will create a safe haven for your pet:
To get your pet use to the crate, start by feeding his daily meals just outside the crate. Once your pet is comfortable eating in this location, move the bowl just inside the crate so he has to stick his head in to eat. Once the pet eats his entire meal without backing out or looking around, move the bowl farther inside the crate until he has to go all the way into the crate. With twice a day feedings, most animals can reach this point in about three days. At this point it’s important to not close the crate door – yet. Once he is finished with the meal, give him several treats to encourage him to wait in his crate instead of darting out. Initially give the treats in rapid succession to keep him inside. Then slow the rate so that he learns to wait in the crate. Once the pet is waiting calmly in the crate, toss more treats inside and repeat about ten times. You will know when your pet loves his crate when he randomly goes in and lies down to rest on his own.
To teach your pet to explore the crate, hide tasty treats in the crate. Try loading a Kong toy with treats, peanut butter or canned food (freezing it makes these last two treats last longer). To prevent your pet from dragging the Kong toy outside the crate, tether it to the crate so the dog has to eat it inside the crate. These helpful tips help your pet to learn that being in the crate is a pleasant experience.
Finally close the crate door when your pet is comfortable inside and leave it shut for some time – extending these intervals until your pet is comfortable for the entire night. Most pets will think this is the most natural space in the world and love their “private bedroom”.
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Dr. Marsig, Veterinarian in Markham.
Practicing Veterinary Medicine in Markham for a Long and Happy Life of ALL Your Pets.
Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic on the north side of Hwy 7, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, pocket pets (rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, skinny pigs, etc.), ferrets, and birds (budgies, cockatiel, parrots, amazon, cockatoo, love birds, conures, African greys, finches, canaries, etc.).
Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.