Your dog’s crate should be a place they want to go. It should be their personal cozy nook for napping and their safe space to escape a bustling household or loud noises. What shouldn’t it be? A place they associate with punishment or anxiety. And with the right crate training, it won’t be. Outside of proper crate training, you can also make your pal’s place more comfy and desirable with a few easy steps. Let’s take a look.
1. Find the Right Size
The size of your dog’s crate is incredibly important. It will not only determine their comfort, it will also determine how they feel about the space. Your dog’s crate should be large enough that they can sit up in it without needing to bow their head. They should also be able to turn around and stretch out. However, the crate shouldn’t be too big. A crate that is just right for your dog’s size will offer that snug den quality that a dog so desires.
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2. Add a Bed
Most crates have a hard plastic base, and while a dog won’t necessarily mind curling up on top of it, a soft bed may mean your dog ends up inside of their crate more often. Look for a bed that will cushion your dog’s joints, support their back, and be easy to clean (ideally, one that allows you to clean the cover as well as the bed itself).
3. Use a Crate Cover
Cover your dog’s crate with a blanket or sheet to create a dark, private den. Your dog will enjoy the privacy, security, and cool darkness of the space. Just remember to leave the door uncovered so that your dog can move easily in and out.
4. Provide Access to Water
This is especially important if you plan to leave your dog in their crate when you are out of the house. Purchase a bowl or water bottle that hooks onto the side of the crate, and remember to clean it and change the water regularly to avoid bacterial growth.
5. Offer Toys, If You Wish
Some trainers discourage their clients from putting toys inside their dog’s crate, as it changes the purpose of the crate from a calm resting place to one for playing and chewing. However, others say it’s just fine, and it’s ultimately up to you. If you do decide to leave your dog with toys or chews, make sure that they cannot be ripped apart, broken into little pieces, or swallowed.
6. Supply Soothing Smells
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety when they are put inside of the crate or they just don’t seem to like it, try leaving a piece of your clothing or a blanket that smells like you. A dog’s sense of smell is incredibly powerful (10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than ours!), and a familiar smell can calm your dog and make them feel at home.
Does your dog use a crate regularly? How do you make it comfortable? Leave a comment and let us know, and sign up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.