You’ll need to designate an area for your mischievous dog to stay while you’re not home and to cool off if things get out of hand. I like to think of the area as a cubby because it should be small, quiet, and cozy. Don’t worry, dogs like cubbies—it reminds them of their wolfish den roots. You can create a cubby by gating them into a small area or buying a crate.
Gates can be used to cubby your dog in a small area, such as a bathroom. Pick an area with linoleum or a tiled floor in case of accidents and be sure it’s dog-proofed. Gates can also be used to enclose a play area. Kitchens make an ideal play area because they don’t confine your puppy from you.
Use your gate to discourage your dog from entering off-limit rooms and to block off dangerous stairways and ledges.
There are several different types of crates. Sizing is important. Crates come in two varieties: wire or mesh crates, some of which fold down nicely, or portable travel kennels made from polypropylene. Both do the job. If you’re an airline traveler who wants to bring your pet along, I’d opt for the travel kennel. If you’re a car traveler and want a crate that’s easy to transport, mesh or wire crates are your best bet.
Do not use the crate if you’re gone hour days. It will drive your dog nuts. Isolated all day in a kennel, he’ll learn to sleep during the day and keep you up all night. You’ll create a nocturnal nightmare with the energy of six stallions, which is not good for either of you.
Crates are comforting for dogs who don’t know how to handle open spaces and are especially useful for those pups having toilet training troubles. The size of the crate is important when you’re housebreaking a dog or pup. If the crate is too large, the puppy may eliminate in one end and sleep in the other.
If you have a growing puppy, buy an adult size crate with a crate divider. Divide it so your puppy can lie comfortably and turn around only. Do the same if you have a big dog and a bigger crate. If no manufactured dividers are available, create one out of a safe, non-toxic material.
Dogs love to pee on absorbent surfaces! If you’re still having housebreaking problems, consider the bedding. Is it thick and plush? Maybe it’s too plush—change it if needed.
Crates can be an invaluable training tool, but they can also be emotionally destructive to your dog if overused. Crates are good in the following situations:
- When your dog must be left unattended for less than six hours
- During sleeping hours for young, unhousebroken, or mischievous puppies
- As a feeding station for distractible dogs
- As a time-out area for over-excitable pups
There are drawbacks to using crates. True, your dog can’t get into trouble there, but it won’t teach him how to behave in your home. Isolation provides little training and has other drawbacks too:
- It doesn’t communicate leadership.
- It separates you from your dog when you’re at home.
- It can’t communicate how to behave in the house.
Do you work all day? Consider the TIP Canine Playpen for your dog. This encloses your dog to prevent destruction while giving him plenty of room to stretch and move about. You can open it during work hours and fold it down when you’re home.
When you leave your dog, go quietly, dim the lights, close the curtains, and turn on some classical music to encourage peaceful rest while you’re out.