Crate training is a great way to not only potty train an animal, but also provide a safe way to transport your dog, introduce new pets, and limit access to the rest of your house while your new pet learns the rules of the house. Some people look at crating as cruel but done right, it is perfectly safe and many dogs enjoy their crates. Crates are best used as short-term management, not as a lifetime pattern of housing. Your goal should be to work on any behavior problems and train your dog so it's not necessary they need to be crated indefinitely.
When not to use a crate...
NEVER use a crate as punishment or crate your pet too long. Some dogs don't tolerate crating due to fears or anxieties like thunder phobia. Don’t crate your dog if you see signs of anxiety when she’s crated, such as:
Damage to the crate from your dog’s attempts to escape
Damage to surrounding objects that they have been able to reach while inside the crate
Wet chest fur or a lot of wetness in the bottom of the crate from drooling
Urination or defection in the crate
Your dog moves the crate while they are inside
Excessive barking or howling during your absence (You can get reports from neighbors or record your dog’s behavior using a video camera.)
In addition, don’t crate your puppy or dog if:
They are too young to have sufficient bladder or bowel control
They have diarrhea
They are vomiting
You must leave them alone for longer than the time indicated in the crate duration guidelines above
They haven't eliminated shortly before going in the crate
The temperature is uncomfortably high
They have not had sufficient exercise, companionship and socialization
Anxiety caused by separation from the family, being left home alone or thunderstorms can be difficult to deal with. Each dog is different in regards to how they each handle these situations best. Some enjoy & feel safe in their crate while others may be destructive and try to escape the crate, often injuring themselves in the process. Here are some signs of separation anxiety:
Destructive behaviors that consistently occur only when they are left by themselves in the house
Destructive behavior directed at windows, doors, flooring in front of doors or items with your scent, like seat cushions or the TV remote.
Dogs need adequate exercise and interaction and puppies should not stay in a crate for more than a few hours at a time. The same goes for adult dogs being house-trained. Letting them out every few hours will prevent them from soiling their crates and learning the routine of the house. You only need to crate your dog until you can trust him not to destroy the house or get along with other pets in the household. After that, it should be a place he goes voluntarily.
If you dog exhibits behavior problems, please consult a trainer who is also a behaviorist immediately as these things need the correct approach as soon as possible to get the situation turned around as soon as it starts, verses being allowed to get worse, or it getting worse because you don't know how to address it properly.
Which crate should you get...
There are quite a few different types of crates on the market. The one you select for your pet should be large enough for him to stand up and turn around. If your dog is still growing, choose a crate that will accommodate his adult size. There are crates with dividers made for this purpose. If your dog is an escape artist, make sure to choose a sturdy crate. Some dogs prefer wire crates and others prefer an airline style crate so ask the rescue which style they recommend for your particular dog. In our rescue, for the standard size Dobermans, we use mostly the 42 inch wire crates for home use. A plastic airline crate size 500 for transporting in vehicles.
The crate training process should always be associated with something pleasant. Make sure to not go too fast and take baby steps when crate training and use lots of positive reinforcement. Place the crate in an area of your home that the family spends a lot of time in and make it comfortable and inviting. Before putting the dog in there, leave the door open and let him explore it. Toss treats or toys into the crate to entice him to enter. Start off crating for small periods of time and don't make a big deal of leaving. Teaching him a command like "kennel," is helpful. There are videos to watch that show the crate-training process and we are here to help you as well.
If your dog whines or cries while in the crate, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, he'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at him or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored him for several minutes, take him outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore him until he stops whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what he wants.
Rescue Dog Facts & Myths
Many people think a rescue dog is "broken" and don't want a dog with problems. However, most dogs are surrendered through no fault of their own. The most common reasons people give up dogs include moving, divorce, time, cost, or they are unaware how easy it is to train a dog. Owning a dog is a lifetime commitment and unfortunately many people have a throw-a-way mentality.
Some people don't want to put effort into training so they get a dog as a puppy when it's cute and small, and then when it's not so little and cute anymore it's out the door. You can't expect a child to know how to act without teaching manners, so why expect this of a dog?
Unfortunately many Dobermans end up in shelters all over Alabama. Whether the dog was used as a lawn ornament by their former owner, escaped the yard or was dumped, the truth is these dogs are incredibly resilient and bounce back just fine after many ordeals they have been through. The true nature of the breed shines through in their eagerness to please, willingness to do anything for their owners and happy nature. As a rescue, we evaluate each dog we get and always try to place the dogs in homes that suit them and vice versa. We are based out of foster homes so our fosters work with these dogs to better assess their needs and work on basic manners.
Starter Book for Dog Owners
Three Dimensional Dog is a full-color, easy-to-understand exploration of the canine mind that answers the ultimate question, "Why did my dog just do that?" Through this journey we discover that everything a dog does, thinks, and feels is part of a larger, connected system of behavior; a system that unfolds logically over time, like a story with a beginning, middle, and end. What is revealed is a rational, child-like intelligence on a desperate search for connection within secure relationships. Dogs are no longer seen as simple, mechanical creatures, but rather as creative problem-solvers capable of open-ended innovation and clever manipulation.