After hearing non-stop about the devastating fires in California and the massive numbers of people and their pets being evacuated, I am reminded of the importance of crate training.
Several years ago, while living in Strawberry, I was part of a group caring for dogs and other pets evacuated from a fire area. These dogs were naturally stressed because of the circumstances. However, the dogs that came with crates settled in rather easily. They had their own space and their own blanket and stuffed toy. Those not trained to be confined were going crazy. A familiar crate is like a den or cave — a protected space.
Some people cringe at the thought of putting their dog in a crate. Unfortunately, many others rely on them to confine their pups for extended periods of time. Crates are a wonderful tool if used correctly.
I have a couple of crates set up in my house and the doors are always open. Often my guys go in there just for a nap. If it is thundering, particularly if I am not at home, the crate is their safe place. If they are particularly stressed, like on the Fourth of July, draping a sheet over it helps them feel extra secure. The only time I normally close the door of the kennel or crate is if I need to confine one while I am training the other. They always get a treat when going into the crate so it is never a punishment.
When bringing home a new puppy, a small crate is a perfect place for him to feel safe with his own blanket and a special toy. Feeding him in there makes the space extra special. Leaving the door open whenever possible helps the pup to realize that this is a comfortable and safe place to be when he needs some quiet time or just to nap. After outgrowing the puppy size crate, the next one can be large enough for when he is full grown, large enough for him to comfortably stand up, turn around and stretch out a bit.
I personally like the folding wire crates because they are easy to transport in the back of the car or in the RV. They fold to a few inches thick and are so easy to set up. If travel requires staying in a motel, the crate offers a safe haven in a strange place. And if you even need to board your dog for a night or two, taking his crate along makes him feel somewhat at home. Make sure water is always available.
Besides the crate, there is a wonderful invention called the exercise pen, otherwise known as an Xpen. These are folding pens that can be made into 4 by 4 foot enclosures. The crate can be connected to the Xpen, which allows a wonderful space of comfort for the dog while the master is at work. Traveling with my dogs in my RV, two Xpens hooked together made an excellent enclosure right outside the door so that the guys and I could come in and out — and there was plenty of room for my chair.
Christy Powers is a freelance writer whose passion is studying and writing about pet health, nutrition and training. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.