Crate training is overall a great way to train your dog, but it’s not the only option. It can also be used for house-training purposes, or as a safe place when you’re out of the house. Some dogs take to crate training more naturally than others – and some may require additional methods like confinement in an area with less distractions. A question that many crate trainers wonder is, when is it okay to stop crate training a dog?
Many people find success in using crates to teach their dogs a variety of great habits. Including, but not limited to, learning how to use the bathroom outdoors and recognizing healthy boundaries.
However, there may come a time when you need to stop using the crate for one reason or another. In this post we’ll go over how to know when it’s time to discontinue your wonderful crate training.
Many people don’t realize that crate training is simply a learning tool. Your pet may grow out of the need to be crated as they’ve mastered what you’re trying to teach them. Understanding when it’s appropriate to release your dog from their crate training will vary based on the type of situation you’re in and how your dog is progressing.
Why You Should Adopt Crate Training
There are many reasons why people want to crate train their dog. Any of them can have successful results when done right. Crates provide a sense of safety for your pup. Limited/enclosed spaces mimic the feeling of a den which is naturally desired by most dogs.
A dog crate can also serve as a quiet, peaceful sanctuary. This can come in handy when you share your home with visitors or have children who are up and about throughout the day. Some dog parents find their pets eager to go into crates for a private sense of “me-time” when they’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or simply haven’t had enough rest.
Crate training your dog can be a good option for people with young puppies. Most commonly used to help acclimate their new furry family to their home.
What makes crate training so effective when training a new dog is that the same den-like dwelling helps make them feel safe in their crates. As they begin to realize this den-like crate is their own space it makes them much less likely to soil where they rest.
So, instead of giving your dog anywhere access to the house. Set up a potty break routine where they can go number 1 & 2 before you leave them. Making sure to do this makes it easier for them not to have any accidents while you’re gone.
When It’s Time To Leave The Crate Behind
So, when is it okay to stop crate training a dog? If your dog outgrows their need for a crate, you might need to re-evaluate your strategy on using said crate. This is especially true for puppies, who can get into trouble—or even hurt themselves—when left to their own devices.
If housetraining is your primary reason for using a crate, be sure to set a goal of two months from the last accident. This mess-free timespan should help you determine whether or not it’s time to explore phasing out the crate.
Dogs are well adapted to a quiet and serene environment. If your dog starts staying in their crate when they need some peace and quiet you don’t have to enforce crating quite as much.
As you likely remember from learning to crate train your pup… The main point of training a dog to use their crate is associating it with positive feelings.
Already noticing this is a tendency of theirs? You can explore partially opening the door so that they have greater freedom to come and go as they please.
What’s The Process To Stop?
STEP 1: Gradually Transition Away
If you want to transition away from a crate, it’s best to do so gradually. The last thing you want to do after all of your training efforts is set your dog up to fail. This will take a bit more time and effort before crate training can be finalized and completely stopped.
You can start out by keeping your pup out of their crate during certain parts of the day. This will allow them to increase their exposure outside of the crate. You should always make sure your dog has a chance to use the restroom before these outings. It’s important to not feed them a large meal or offer a large drink of water before they’re set loose. This will help discourage an accident from happening in your home.
STEP 2: Advised Supervision
This new routine is going to require more supervision around the house at first, so be sure to do this when you have time and you’re also spending extra close attention on them.
It’s important to get your dog used to longer periods of time out of the crate. This way they won’t have any accidents when you leave them for longer time spans like while you’re at work.
STEP 3 (Optional): Limited Access
A good idea instead of restricting their access to your entire home (crating), confine them in a large, contained area and provide easy access for activities. Eventually, your dog should graduate to your main living space and make the rest of your shared home easier for everyone.
Giving them their favorite toy, or treating them to something frozen that takes a while to eat will help keep your pup focused on one thing. This can help prevent destructiveness which might cause relapses in bathroom-break rules at home.
Your dog is now equipped to stop crate training!
Training a pupster is never easy. Many dog owners have found that crates can be a helpful tool when addressing certain behaviors. Some people have had success with using a crate training method to enforce certain rules— for example, when you’re trying to prevent destructive behavior.
If you have a dog that has behavioral issues, such as aggression toward other animals and people, your training should be ongoing. We wouldn’t advise stopping using the crate just because they’ve gotten better on day-to-day management of their behavior.
Furthermore, some people like to keep their dog confined in a crate when they travel frequently or if trips to the vet are a frequent occurrence. The idea of not seeing your pet destroying your belongings and urinating on your carpets is certainly an appealing one. But, adapting to new routines each time can lead to frustration for your pet.
Leaving a dog in their crate for extended periods of time is, of course, never okay. A crate should not be used to keep your dog cooped up for 20 hours. However, using the crate as a tool to teach your pup some boundaries or help them calm down from a session of playing is not the same thing and totally acceptable.
So, when is it okay to stop crate training a dog? It certainly depends on a case-by-case situation. If you feel your dogs time is now, we hope our simple steps help you guide to dog to life after crate training.
If your doggo is happy in a crate, feels secure and can’t be left without one for practical reasons, it’s totally okay to keep them there until better circumstances arise.
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