A sturdy dog crate can be the best friend you and your dog will ever have. To you, a human, a crate may seem to be a "cage"... so you may object to the idea. You are not a dog. The dog regards his crate as a dog house... a security blanket to which he can retreat to rest, to escape confusion, or to adjust to strange surroundings (especially if you should travel with him or leave him in someone else's care).
For the puppy, the crate is an invaluable training aid. Confined to his crate while his owner is out of the house, he can't destroy or soil anything... or hurt himself... and will be easier to housetrain. He really welcomes this kind of security when left alone.
HOW TO USE A CRATE PROPERLY
Start your puppy in it as soon as possible... the younger the better. Set it up, preferably in a corner wherever you plan to keep him, in a room that is used by the family on a regular basis, i.e. family room, kitchen, den, etc. Remember that the crate should not be in a location that is in direct sunlight for any length of time. Use old newspapers on the bottom at first. After the dog is housetrained and past the chewing stage, use an old blanket, towel, or rug. Further security is gained by placing a blanket or other covering over the top and sides of the crate... making it a real "dog house." Put in play toys and chew toys and maybe even feed the pup in the crate for a few days so that he has only a very pleasant association with it. Don't force him into it or use it for punishment. Use the word "Kennel" when you put him in. If he flops down to sleep elsewhere just gently pick him up, place him inside and shut the door until he is well awake again. He'll be too sleepy to care and will be getting the proper association. Soon he will seek it automatically when tired.
Use these frequent periods to advantage and don't hesitate to confine him to the crate several times a day for short periods of time... and always when you are out of the house. He may howl in resentment at first, not because of the crate, but because you are leaving him behind and he knows it. Don't weaken, and don't worry, he will settle down as soon as you are gone. Learning this sort of discipline is a very vital part of his young life.
Whether or not you wish to confine your puppy to his crate all night is up to you. Many knowledgeable dog people do so with success and have solved the housetraining problem very quickly... mostly by feeding no liquids and very little food in the later evening. If you choose to leave the crate door open at night, surround the area with a heavy layer of newspapers. One of the greatest advantages of the dog crate is that the dog won't soil it because it is his bed... hence its great value in housetraining.
USING CRATES FOR ADULT DOGS by Traudi Chiaravalloti
First of all, I confess I was late in coming to realize the advantages of using a crate for a pet dog -- advantages for both dogs and humans. I've lived with a dog for most of the past 35 years and in that time have experienced a fair representation of the mischief and danger in which a dog can find itself. Years ago crates were not easily available for pet owners and people resorted to confining their dogs to a "safe" area such as the bathroom or kitchen. My first dog, a mixed-breed, pound puppy, chewed windowsills, tore off wallpaper, chewed on bedding, shoes, books, furniture or just about anything she could get her teeth on. Once she even bit into an electrical cord! Thank goodness she was not hurt. She was confined to my bedroom, which is where she wreaked most her havoc while I was out of the house.
Later the breeder of our Airedale introduced us to the use of a crate. She told us that housetraining would be much easier with the use of a crate. We dutifully purchased a crate the correct size and used it throughout the housetraining weeks and throughout the teething period. After that, we kept the crate up but didn't really make use of it much and eventually knocked it down and put it away. The dog had the run of the house and we tolerated the occasional chewing of furniture or pillows. Nowadays, crates of all sizes and types are readily available at pet stores. However, it wasn't until more recently that we started making full use of the dogs' crates and realizing what benefits using crates for the adult dog offered.
I suspect some people think using a crate is just for the convenience of the owners. I know I used to think that myself, feeling that my dog is a part of my family and I want it to have the same freedoms other family members enjoy. And that would be fine if I could reason with my dogs and could count on them to respect my wishes. Then I could leave medication on my bedside table, leave food and sharp knives on the kitchen counter, and tell the dogs they can leave the house and go have fun with their friends but be home for supper.
Used correctly, a crate provides the den that a dog enjoy. It provides a familiar setting in unfamiliar places. It provides a place to eat, a place to sleep, and a place of retreat. Our two dogs have the run of the house when we're at home with them; but when we leave to go shopping or go to our jobs, they are in their crates. (In actual point of fact, they stay close to wherever we are and do not roam the house by themselves.) When workmen are in the house, they are in their crates. When we have a project to do in the house and don't want them under foot causing a distraction that could result in injury to us or them getting into materials that could be harmful to them, we put them into their crates. When we travel with them, we take their crates. This allows us to leave a motel room to shop or attend a meeting and they are safe in their crates. Or if we are at someone else's house, they can be crated when needed thus protecting the property of our guests. If they need to be kept at the vet's or need to be boarded, they are used to the confinement of a small area and are familiar with a crate or small kennel area. I am certain there are many more good examples that could be enumerated.
Crate use should always be a positive experience for the dogs. Ours get treats when they are asked to go into them and they are fed in them (when they see their bowls in our hands, they hurl themselves into the crates so they will be fed quickly). They are not sent there for punishment and they are never, ever shoved into the crate in anger. Even before we started using the crates more frequently as we do now, we'd toss a treat into the crate for our dog to retrieve. The crate would most often remain open but the association for our dog was a positive one. The crates are located in a high traffic area where they can observe the goings-on of the house if they wish. I am certain that we do more with our dogs and take them more places with us because of their familiarity with and comfort with crates. Even when taking them to obedience training, I feel comfortable making use of crates that are available. I know my dogs will settle comfortably and wait for my return. My thinking about crates has changed so much since our first dog. Now I almost feel one does a disservice by failing to get one's dog used to or not making use of crates.
RECOMMENDED ADULT CRATE SIZES
Vari-Kennel Travel Crate
300 (23W x 32D(L) x 23H)
or 400 (24W x 36D(L) x 26H)
Crate Training your Irish Terrier.