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Many pet owners think that putting their pup in a dog kennel is something negative. But, in reality, it is a positive experience for the dog and owner alike. Crates to domestic canines are like dens that wolves seek out in the wild—they are places that provide shelter, safety, and a sense of security. However, some dogs just love to escape so it’s important for you to know how to make a dog crate escape proof.
Crates cater to a canine’s natural instinct.
Many dogs that have grown up without crates will instinctively seek out their own types of dens where they feel secure. If you have ever seen a dog who likes to nap under a corner end table in the living room or even hops in the bathtub to sleep, you are witnessing this instinct.
Therefore, if you dislike the idea of crate training your pet, reframe how you are looking at it as something natural and inherent to the species. You will likely be amazed at how quickly they begin to associate the dog crate as their safe space.
As for you, crate training helps stop excessive dog chewing and destructive behavior in puppies, aids in potty training younger and older animals alike, and can be beneficial when you have guests in your home.
Besides, if you ever plan on traveling with your furry friend, a crate is essential. When the dog is accustomed to being in his or her crate before any adventures, it will go a long way in easing any anxiety as their safe space is coming along!
Furthermore, dogs live for a good 10-15 years or more these days. Unless you adopted an older animal or are in your own ‘forever home,’ there may come a time when you have to move with your pet. Moving may cause as much if not more anxiety in our pets as it does in us. Your pup’s crate will provide a familiar haven in an otherwise foreign environment, making a move much less stressful.
That being said, some of us are faced with escape artists. Anyone who is a dog lover has likely come across one that manages to Houdini themselves out of any constraint — be it their crate, harness, or even closed doors. What then?
Why does my dog try to escape his crate?
Most dogs learn that their crate is their personal safe space and will head into it on their own to escape the world for a bit and relax. However, dogs escape their enclosures for many reasons. So, the first step an owner of an escape artist should take is to determine why their pooch is making a run for it in the first place.
If Fido is frequently resistant to being put in the crate or tries to escape, you may have to go back to square one in training. This display of anxiety means something is amiss. Your dog may be scared, think the crate is a punishment, or he could be experiencing separation anxiety. There are proper ways on how to crate train a dog with separation anxiety.
Keep in mind that while the best dog crate options are convenient training tools, they should be your pet’s safe space first and foremost. If the area has been used as a punishment, or you leave the dog locked up and alone most of the time, she will come to associate the space with negative episodes.
These memories breed fear and anxiety and will forfeit any training done thus far. In addition, canines are sociable animals and need plenty of exercise and playtime with their favorite humans throughout the day before being closed in for downtime.
Help! My dog is chewing her crate all of the time!
Barring teething puppies, obsessive chewers usually have one or two things in common — they’re bored, anxious, or both.
Teething Puppies: Give a teething puppy safe, age- and breed-specific chew toys to get through that stage in their life, and they will likely grow out of it.
Alternatively, you can wet old t-shirts or towels, tie them in knots or ropes, then freeze them. The cold will offer relief to sore gums while providing another option to gnaw on other than their crate.
Bored/Anxious Dogs: If your dog is past the teething stage yet still chewing, he needs more stimulation in his life! Take more time for walks and exercise. If you are gone for many hours a day, ask a friend to stop by or hire a dog walker.
There are also toys meant to stimulate your dog’s mind on the market that you could try, like hidden snack puzzles. These will help keep your dog busy. When you leave for short trips during the day, leave the radio or television on to help keep the dog calm.
How to choose the best dog crate
You want your dog to be as comfortable and secure in her crate as possible. The following tips can help you find the best dog crate for Fido:
- Pick a dog kennel that is the correct size for her breed. She should be able to stand up comfortably and turn around without a lot of excess space. This is especially important when using the area for housebreaking, as dogs will not soil where they sleep if they can help it. A good rule of thumb is to measure from the top of your pet’s head to the floor, then from snout to tail. Do this when the animal is standing. Add four inches to each measurement, and you will have the height and length of the crate you need.
- Next, pick out the type of crate you desire. Do you want metal, wood, or a combination of both? An excessive chewer will likely destroy anything other than metal, so keep this in mind. Also, if you have a puppy that will grow much larger when he reaches full size, consider expandable dog crates or one with dividers that will grow with him. You could even make a DIY dog crate if you’re feeling crafty!
- If you are considering a second-hand crate, be very careful. One that is well-used or that has been sitting outside has likely deteriorated. Carefully inspect any such item before purchasing. You do not want something your beloved pet can easily escape or, worse, that will harm him. A wire crate, in particular, will be more susceptible to dangerous rusting.
- Pick an area in your house that is quiet and away from high-traffic areas. Ensure that the space is big enough for the measurements you took above.
- Finally, once the crate is in place, provide a comfy bed and toys so he can keep busy and rest well.
Creating an escape-proof crate
Pick the right crate for your dog’s size and breed. If the structure is new or at least in good shape and is the right size for your dog, it should be pretty resistant to escape artists anyway.
Permanent crates are much stronger than collapsible wire ones, although they lack the ease of storage. Consider both your and your dog’s needs carefully. Also, keep in mind that many dogs have broken their claws and teeth on flimsy wire crates trying to get out.
Reinforcing a crate
If you choose a wire dog crate, it can be made sturdier with the careful placement of zip ties. String one through each corner, pull tight, then cut off the ends so your pup cannot chew on them.
If you need to keep the crate from sliding across the floor, drill two or three small holes in the wall, insert anchors, and screw in loop hooks. Attach zip ties through the loops and the corresponding wire on the crate. Again, be sure to cut off the ends to remove any chewing temptations. Doing this should stop any sliding, and if you have to move the crate, simply cut the zip ties. You can use new ones to attach the crate back to the wall when you are ready.
Securing the latch
You may be surprised at the intelligence and ingenuity of some dogs. So many dog lovers have come home to find that the pet they thought they secured that morning happily romping around them as they walk through the door.
Dogs often figure out how to unlatch a kennel from the inside. The first step in keeping your dog from escaping is to ensure the latch is firmly pushed in. You can purchase a chain with a clip or use a carabiner for extra security if necessary.
Whatever you do, NEVER use a padlock of any kind on your dog’s crate. At best, losing the key would mean having to break the lock or the kennel itself. At worst, you could lose your pet in a house fire or some other calamity in which you find you don’t have time to unlock the cage before having to rush out of the dwelling yourself. If you are like most dog owners, this is a situation you’d likely never forgive yourself for!
Another thing crafty pets sometimes figure out is that they can open some crates by shimmying the hinges. These, too, can be secured with zip ties.
Proper crate training is critical!
The best and easiest deterrent to your pet escaping his crate is starting with proper crate training in the first place . Gentle yet firm, ongoing training will teach the dog that this area is a place to feel comfortable, safe, and happy. Being consistent from the start and using the crate as a positive training tool instead of punishment will go a long way towards a peaceful, rewarding experience for you and your furry friend for years to come!