Canine Castles: The Truth About Crating

Join Our Email List

Jake stretchs out in his den

Mr. Smith: “I’d never put my dog in a cage! That’s cruel! They should be free to roam the house while I’m away. Every dog should play all day!”

Rocky the Boxer: “I wish I had a special den where I could relax and feel secure. Nobody’s home, the house is big and scary and I don’t know what to do! I guess I’ll have to eat something I’m not supposed to.”

Mr. Smith: “I just got home, “What did you do! I’m going to call Boxer rescue and get rid of you!”

Contrary to popular belief, crating your dog is not cruel and unusual punishment. Crate training will not make your dog resent you or damage his psyche. Sometimes we become so attached to our dogs that we think of them as little people. We know WE wouldn’t want to be confined to a cage-hence our projection of dogs not liking it either. We must remember that as hard as it is to believe at times, dogs are still four-footed canines with a different take on things!

The ancestors of the modern dog were den-dwellers and to this day the “den instinct” remains strong in our smush-nosed, wiggle butt critters known as Boxer dogs. Dogs sleep in excess of 17 hours a day-something we humans can only dream about as we toil away at work. A crate, either wire or molded plastic, provides that new age den and gives your Boxer a sense of safety and security. It also gives you a sense of security knowing that when you go out, the cat, the couch, and the remote will be in one piece upon return! B.A.R.C. recommends the use of crates to our adopters, especially during the acclimation period. This helps your rescued Boxer feel safe while he gets to know his house, his family and his canine or feline siblings. Some Boxers may eventually not need to be confined to a crate while you are out, but they will continue to appreciate having access their own special den.

2 in the den

Some Advantages of Crating:

  • No stressing about your dog getting into something that may hurt him (e.g., chewing electrical cords, eating toxic plants or chemicals). You can leave your dog alone and know he is comfortable and safe in his canine castle.
  • No stressing about your dog soiling your home or destroying your furniture or other belongings while you are away. You can completely avoid the confusion and anxiety that your dog would feel by your reaction to his problem behavior.
  • If you have multiple pets, particularly if one is a new addition, you do not have to worry about their interaction or fighting while you are gone.
  • Your dog will have his own safe den to retreat to when he is tired or stressed.
  • Traveling with your dog will be significantly easier-he will adjust to new accommodations much faster with his portable canine castle.
  • For puppies, the crate is an excellent housetraining tool. Since dogs’ have a natural instinct not to want to soil their own den, the confinement of the crate motivates your dog to wait until taken outside.
  • Improving and enhancing a continuing relationship with your dog by ensuring that your home and he are most compatible.

Types of Crates:

There are two basic types of crates: wire and plastic. With the wire crate, the dog is able to see out on all sides. The crate is often collapsible. The plastic crate, also sometimes called an airport crate, offers the dog a view only from the front. Airport crates are very secure, but some dogs may chew the plastic. No one type is better than the other, but getting the kind your rescue Boxer is used to is the best bet. B.A.R.C. encourages potential adopters to speak with the foster parent to determine what type of crate is right for a particular dog.

Crate Training the Boxer

Many Boxers are surrendered to B.A.R.C. because the family did not take the time to crate train their Boxer. Since Boxers are extremely people-oriented, they often suffer from anxiety problems and insecurity when left at large in the home. This may lead to highly destructive behavior. Leaving your Boxer alone to fend for himself in your yard is a recipe for digging, fence jumping, and unhappy neighbors. If you have a Boxer that you are considering giving up because of destructive behavior, we strongly urge you to try crate training. Please check out one of the many good books on crate training and remember that the crate should be used to alleviate anxiety. This means that you will want to keep training positive and pleasant for your dog. Initially, secure the door open so it doesn’t swing shut. Use food to coax your dog into the crate and slowly build up to shutting the door for small periods. When your Boxer seems quiet and relaxed in the crate, try leaving him confined in there for 15-20 minute intervals. If all goes well, experiment with longer periods of time.

Are Crates Right for Every Animal?

The vast majority of Boxers acclimate nicely to crates when properly trained, but unfortunately there is the occasional Boxer who is not suited for crating. Some dogs have such extreme separation anxiety problems that they will soil their own den, chew, bend bars, and generally experience extreme anxiety in the crate. For these animals, larger areas of confinement, such as a mud room, are sometimes effective.

Don’t Crash the Castle!

  • Never use the crate as punishment. Don’t put your dog in “lockdown” for misbehaving or the crate will lose its ability to be a safe, secure place.
  • Teach your children that the crate is a special “time out” area for the dog. Do not allow children to pester the dog while in his crate. Don’t allow children to use the crate as a playhouse or jungle gym.
  • Don’t over crate. Dogs should be well exercised before and after crating. Allow your dog plenty of free time, love and attention or he will look for ways to relieve his boredom and stress.
  • Make sure to adorn the castle with a soft liner for your dog to lie on and a heavy, no-tip water bowl.

Sizing Them Up

Crates should be large enough for the dog to stand up without hitting his head. He should be able to turn around and find himself a new “perfect” position from time to time. If you are buying for a puppy you can purchase the size wire crate your adult dog will need and use moveable partitions to keep it sized just right for him as he grows. For wire crates look for smaller gauge wire (the smaller the gauge the thicker the wire) and secure doors. Some crates are designed for travel and collapse into a flattened frame with handles. You can shop for a crate at the local pet supply store or online. Expect to spend between $50-$100-the cheapest castle you will ever buy and a great investment for the whole family.