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Crate training your dog â its a polarizing topics that has many pet owners divided. Some feel that training your dog to go to or stay inside of a crate while youre asleep or away from the house is cruel, but when crate training is done correctly it can help your dog build a habit that may actually end up keeping her from needing a crate in the long run. Some people use hard covered crates that provide little sight of the room around them, while others who use wire crates cover theirs with a sheet or light blanket. If youre wondering if covering your dogs crate is right for you, that will depend on your home environment, your dog, and what it is youre using the crate for.
Crate training is a teaching method that helps a dog associate one specific spot as their area, which they can go to for comfort or if they are feeling overwhelmed by activity in the rest of the house. According to The Humane Society of the United States, one common reason people crate train their dogs is to help with housebreaking, as most dogs will not soil the area they sleep in. Crate training can also alleviate behaviors ranging from destructive tendencies to anxiety, adds Merck Veterinary Manual, and in many cases, dogs who associate their crates with comfort will seek out these safe havens on their own over time. Of course, this method should be used to encourage new and desired behaviors and putting your dog in his crate should never be done as a punishment, which can lead to more stress.
Sometimes, however, a crate can feel frustrating for dogs, especially young puppies, if they can see whats going on in the room around them. If you keep your dogs crate in a high-traffic area, like in the living room, you should move the crate to a more quiet location that still feels comfortable, like a corner of your bedroom. If your dog is still acting out by barking or chewing on his crate, it may be in your best interest to cover it with a piece of fabric.
If you think that your dog could benefit from a covered crate but arent entirely sure, there are a few things to consider which may help you make the right decision. The idea behind allocating a specific spot for your dog to retire to at certain times is essentially to mimic the setting of a den, which is small, safe space wild dogs create for themselves. Often, people will fashion their dogs crate with some soft bedding, a favorite toy or two, and access to food and water, which is especially important if youre leaving your dog in a crate while at work, says Preventative Vet. Some people will cover the crate entirely to help make even more of a den-like atmosphere, which also limits the dog from distractions that could excite him, like a cat walking by, a child playing, or even two people talking in the same room.
Knowing that stimulating things are going on nearby, yet out of their reach, can be very frustrating for some dogs and may cause them to bark. Pet Crates Direct notes that being physically limited by the confines of a crate while people or other animals are in the room can induce fear-based anxiety, which may eventually lead them to resist going back in the crate later on. To put it simply, draping a blanket over a dog crate can provide some dogs with an additional measure of security and serenity, making their den cozy and complete. Think of it like closing the bathroom door just before you step into a relaxing hot bath â peace, privacy, and security go a long way for dogs too.
Covering your dogs crate is easy and can be done inexpensively with an old sheet, towel, or lightweight blanket you have at home. The main thing to keep in mind when choosing the right cover is breathability, so skip anything heavy or super-insulated that may restrict airflow inside the crate. A basic cotton sheet is a great option for most dogs and shouldnt make breathing uncomfortable, assuming your dog doesnt have existing respiratory issues. Pet Crates Direct went on to add that many popular store-bought pet crate covers come in warm tones, like brown, gray, or white, which may add to the den-like atmosphere youre looking to create for your canine companion and may be something to keep in mind when choosing a material to use.
If youre still worried that your dog wont get great circulation in the crate you can easily adjust the coverage of her crate to best meet her specific needs. One way to do this is by positioning her crate in a corner of the room and covering only the sides of the crate that are exposed to the rest of the room (read: not the two sides that are adjacent to the walls.) Pet crate covers can also be bought to slide over your existing crate if youre looking for a more aesthetically-pleasing option and some crates already come with covers attached, like plastic crates, which are often used for transporting pets. Finally, always be sure to keep your dogs crate out of any areas that will be exposed to direct sunlight for long amounts of time and be sure to position crates away from any items that could be pulled into the crate through the crates bars, like houseplant leaves, loose laundry, or electronic cords and wires.
Often, covering a dogs crate can alleviate anxiety and allow them to calm down â in turn, giving you and your family a break from excessive barking or scratching from inside of his den. For some dogs, though, covering a crate can lead to more problems and may not be a simple solution. One way covering a dogs crate can be harmful is if your dog pulls the blanket from over the top of the crate into the inside of his crate through the metal wires, which can not only result in a shredded blanket but may also present a choking hazard. Another sign that crate covers arent for your dog is if you see him exhibiting fear or aggressive behaviors when you coax him into his crate, or if he starts barking excessively once the cover goes on.
Like crate training, crate covers only work if your dog learns to associate the cover with comfort and tranquility, so if shes associating it with anxiety youll need to try something new. Acclimating your dog to her crate cover can be done with positive reward training, like feeding her a treat or showering her with praise when she goes in her crate. Karen Pryor Academy suggests building up the amount of time your dog stays in her crate slowly and always offering a reward for a job well done, which you can also try to get her to associate only good things with a crate cover. If the cover still seems to be a major source of stress for your dog, it is recommended that you seek the services of a professional trainer or animal behaviorist, who may be able to spot an underlying issue that could be leading to your dogs fear of a covered crate or confined space.
Old blankets and sheets can be inexpensive solutions to covering your dogs crate, but investing a few dollars in a commercially-made crate cover designed for your dogs size of wire crate can be well worth it. The tailored fabrics have velcro windows to provide airflow, and a sturdy, form-fitting design wont let your dog pull bunches of fabric through the bars into his crate to chew on. Commercial covers also allow you to leave the front side â or even multiple sides â open while still providing a denlike atmosphere for your pup.
Explore Land Dog Crate Cover Durable – Polyester Pet Kennel Cover is the No. 1 best seller on Amazon, with more than 2,500 five-star reviews. Customers liked the windproof design, attachment toggles to keep it secure and the fact they could open both crate doors when the cover was in use. The light tan design also makes the crate lighter inside than black covers, which customers felt provided a warm, friendly environment for their pet to rest.
Should You Cover a Dog Crate With a Blanket?
This is perhaps the single most asked question regarding crate training. So I will cover this separately just below. Then I’ll go through 9 more things you can do to help your puppy enjoy his crate.
By putting a cover or blanket over the top of the crate, you’re essentially making it more “den-like”. Sometimes this works well, but other times it does not.
By covering the top, back and sides, or just the top, it’s thought to be more calming for your pup. The environment will be slightly darker, warmer, quieter, and there’ll be fewer distractions.
If there’s less stimulation, it may make it easier for your puppy to relax and be calm while inside his crate.
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When Should You Not Cover Your Dog’s Crate?
Unfortunately, some owners resort to using the cage as a punishment — they think locking their puppy in the crate and covering it will establish that they’ve exhibited bad behavior.
First, it’s important to understand how traumatizing this can be for a puppy. Dogs who want to play and enjoy time with their owners are then locked away and cut off from the world around them. They’ll still be able to hear people outside the crate, and this can induce anxiety.
This is high counterproductive to crate training. A dog’s crate should be their safe space, and using it as a punishment will establish the crate as a negative thing. For this reason, never force your dog into their crate, and never cover the crate as a punishment.
Should dog crate be covered at night?
Do dog crates need to be covered?