04 Oct What is Crate Training and Why is it Necessary for Pet Travel?
Relocating a pet is not easy on many levels, especially when the pet is your beloved doggo. The process is not over till the time your furry friend is not received at the destination, for which they have to travel an entire journey.
Carry My Pet not only provides a one-stop solution to pet parents but also makes the entire pet relocation a happy experience for the pet as well. As an established professional brand in the pet industry and having successfully executed thousands of international pet trips and domestic pet trips, one area that is observed to be understated and undermined is that of crate/kennel training the pet.
Crate training is simple but consistent training to confine or limit your pet to their crate in cases of emergency, behavioral modification, house guests, a threat from other animals or external factors, and most importantly, for travel. Crate training is based on the principle of patience, and consistency from the pet parent and if done incorrectly, your pet may feel trapped and suffocated.
Many a times during a long-distance air relocation, when the pet is not crate trained, they will be unable to withstand the challenges of confinement to the crate during the journey, control on bowel and bladder, or separation anxiety upon being caged in the crate without the pet parent being present around. During such times, the pet panics and tries to get out of the crate which in turn can harm them. They can try to chew off the window wires that might loosen their teeth, might get their paws stuck in the crate windows, or could break their nails while scratching the inside of the crate in fear and anxiety. And so, it is crucial to crate train your pet especially if you have planned an upcoming pet trip.
Crate training can take up to weeks and months which is based on several factors including your pet’s age, habits, personality traits, and past experiences (if the pet is adopted or rescued). Hence this training should be a pleasant experience for your pet and should take place slowly in steps. Your pets should associate their crate training experience with positive outcomes and not be scared and fearful of the crates, if and when required in the future.
Benefits/Reasons to Crate Train your Pet
A crate provides easier pet travel, both for air and road journeys, and visits to vet clinics.
A crate can provide a sense of security, a safer place to rest, and to be left alone in stressful, overwhelming, and tiresome times for pets.
A crate can be extremely useful during house training since pets do not like their beds soiled, and so can be taught bowel and bladder control.
A crate can be made use of in case of evacuations during emergencies, as it will have the pet blanket and toys and will provide a sense of security and familiarity to the pet in case of distressing times.
A crate can be helpful to confine the pet to their limited area to minimize household damage like tearing away the couch or curtains or breaking the porcelain, by leaving your pet in the crate with their favorite toys and chew bones for some time.
Tips To Help You with Crate Training Your Pet
1). Selecting the Right Crate for Your Pet
Select a proper crate for your pet, keeping in mind their age and growth. The crate should be large enough in which your pet could stand, sit, lie, turn around comfortably. In case your pet is young and in the growing phase then choose a crate that can accommodate their adult size.
It is always better to choose an IATA-approved pet crate that is mandatorily used in case your pet needs to travel or relocate via air, rail, or road. Its fiberglass material makes it the most suited when it comes to the durability, safety, and comfort of the pet.
2). Introducing Your Pet to the Crate
Introduce the crate to your pet. Place the crate at a place where your pet likes to spend most of their time happily. Keep the crate door open and let your pet explore in and around the crate to familiarise with it.
Keep some food pieces or treats near the crate door so that your pet could be lured into going near it. You could also entice them by calling out “come to the crate” in a happy and pleasant voice.
You can start putting a towel or a blanket or maybe your pet’s favorite toy in the crate so that the crate feels like home to your pet. This will reinforce the crate as a place for calm and rest.
Remain patient and consistent till your pet feels secure and comfortable entering the crate at their own sweet pace, and do not rush or force them into the crate, as this step may go on for a few days.
3). Feeding Your Pet in the Crate
Now that your pet is comfortable going inside the crate, you might want to start feeding them in it too. This will increase the familiarity and association of the pet with their crate.
Once your pet is comfortable being near the crate door, try placing the food bits inside towards the end of the crate. Every time you put the meal, try placing it further inside the crate and finally at the end of it.
Move the food bowl gradually towards the end of the crate but do not rush. Your pet might not go all the way inside the crate to eat. Be patient and repeat this exercise as many times as to make them comfortable.
Once you see your pet eating comfortably in the crate, try closing the door behind them while they are eating. For the initial few times, open the crate door as soon as they finish eating, after which you can start keeping the door closed for a few minutes more, post the completion of their meal.
Do not open the crate door if your pet starts crying, calling, or whining, or else they will get into a habit and repeat it every time to get out of a situation. Though, next time try to crate them for a lesser period of time.
4). Increasing the Crate Time for Your Pet
Once your pet becomes accustomed to eating their meal in the crate without any fear or anxiety, you can start putting them in the crate for smaller durations other than their eating time, while you are at home.
You can use certain words or commands like “Get in the crate” to train them and encourage them to get inside the crate and stay there.
For positive reinforcement, give them treats once they get into the crate and close the door. You can encourage them by pointing into the crate with a treat in your hand.
You can also place the chew bone in the crate to keep the pet engaged and comfy in there for a longer duration. Let them be inside the crate for 10 minutes, while you go to a nearby room or just sit beside it.
Repeat this exercise a few times a day and then gradually increase the time period and settings with and without yourself in the room or near the crate to decrease the separation anxiety.
Do not rush any of the above steps as patience and consistency are the keys. Start with confining them to the crate for 5-10 minutes and eventually go on till 30 minutes. Crate your pet for short periods when you are at home as you don’t want your pet to associate the crate with being alone.
5). Crating Your Pet at Night or While You are Outdoors
Once you feel your pet is comfortable for or more than 30 minutes in the crate without crying, barking, or growling, you can start crating them when leaving the house for shorter time periods.
Do not crate them for more than 10 minutes before you leave the house and give them some chew bones while leaving, to keep their mind off the separation.
Make sure you leave and return to the house quite subtly to avoid them from getting anxious and excited upon such incidents. The purpose is to keep them calm upon your departure so that they do not get overwhelmed upon not seeing you around while being caged in the crate, or too emotional upon seeing you back at home.
Ensure that you begin with short outdoor trips while crating your pets and gradually increase the time period of your outdoor trips.
While crating your pet at night, put the crate close to your bed for a few nights initially and once your pet is accustomed to sleeping comfortably in the crate close to you only then you should gradually move it away.
Don’ts While Crate Training Your Pet
DO NOT push your pets forcefully through the crate training process. Be patient and let them take time to be comfortable and accept the change during this training.
Though crate training could modify your pet’s behavior, it does not provide any magical solution. Hence never rush your pet into getting crate trained and DO NOT use it as a punishment tool for your pet’s unwanted behavior.
Don’t leave your pet in the crate for too long as it will devoid them of emotional connection and interaction with the pet parent and this might cause depression.
Don’t make less than 4 months old puppies and older dogs stay in the crate for more than 3-4 hours at a stretch, since it is difficult for them to control their bowel and bladder movements.
DO NOT put collars or tags around your pets while they are still in the training period. These items might get entangled in the bars of the crate thus hurting or choking the pet.
Ultimately, the key to putting your pet especially that cute furry doggo up for success is your patience. Be careful while crate training your pet and DO NOT make them feel imprisoned in the crate or associate crate with fear, sadness, or separation. Pet parents need to roll up their sleeves, pull up their socks, and prepare themselves for a consistent and joyful experience while learning about a thing or two themselves during this entire process. DON’T RUSH !!