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I’ve chosen to write a crate training guide because me and my family have used a crate with every dog we’ve ever owned and I cannot recommend it enough, for the benefit of both you and your dog.
I believe crate training your Labrador has so many benefits that every owner should at least be able to make an educated decision whether they want to crate train their Lab, and to then have all the information readily at hand to be able to do so if they desire.
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: If you’re looking to purchase your first crate we recommend the Midwest Life Stages Crate. We got one for our first puppy, Linus and 14+ years later we’re using the exact same crate!
A 7 Part Guide To Crate Training
In order to do the subject justice and provide all the information I think you’ll need, I have broken the guide down into 7 distinct articles, each linked to below. Please click the article title to be taken to there:
- Why use a dog crate – and is it cruel to crate a dog?
It most definitely isn’t cruel, there are some overwhelming reasons why crate training your Labrador is hugely beneficial for both you and them. But if you have any fears or have read some people believe it is cruel, this article will dispel that myth and discuss all the possible pros and cons.
- How to use a dog crate – When and when NOT to crate your dog
Though a crate is a very useful tool when used correctly there are times in a dog’s life when they shouldn’t be crated, and even some dogs that should never be crated at all. Learn the times and circumstances when crating should be employed and when it should be avoided.
- What size dog crate should you get and which type is best?
Learn to choose the correct style and size of crate for your dog. This decision is absolutely crucial! Too small it’s inhumane, too large it loses its effectiveness and of course a puppy must have a smaller crate than an adult dog. This article will give you all the info you need to select the right crate.
- What to put in a dog crate, where to put it, how to get it prepared:
In order to use a crate effectively, not only must the crate be the right style and size, but you must buy a few accessories to make it a lovely, welcoming place where your dog looks forward to spending time. This article will discuss what’s needed and why.
- How to crate train a puppy – step by step
This article will teach you the process of crate training your puppy in easy to follow steps. While still a puppy is the ideal age to crate train a dog and you should start as soon as possible.
- How to crate train an older dog – Yours or adopted
Maybe you have an adult dog and hadn’t considered crate training before? Maybe you’ve just adopted? Or maybe you’d never heard of it until now? Well it’s never too late to start! Crate training the older dog is harder than a puppy but it’s far from impossible. This article gives guidance on how to crate train an older dog.
- A List Of Dog Crates Highly Recommended By Labrador Training HQ
A high quality, durable crate of the correct size and type is essential to guarantee safety, comfort and to get the best out of the crate training experience. But with so many styles, types and sizes available, selecting a suitable crate is no easy task. So we at Labrador Training HQ have taken the hard work out of the hunt by putting together a hand picked selection of the best crates available that you can see by reading this article.
A Summary of Benefits to Crate Training Your Labrador
So you don’t have to trawl through the complete guide looking for a summary of the benefits you and your Lab can enjoy from the use of a crate, I thought I would list them here:
- Safety – You can safely confine your dog to keep them out of harms way when you’re unable to supervise them for short periods of time.
- Travel safety – A crate is a very useful tool to confine your dog safely during travel by car or by air and reduces the stress they feel due to being in a comfortable and familiar crate.
- Security – A dog learns to view their crate as a special place all of their own, where no human ventures and they can get away from it all to be alone when they desire. It’s their own little place of security.
- House-training – You can take advantage of a puppy’s innate instincts to keep their ‘den’ nice and clean, doing their best not to soil where they live and sleep. A crate is the one tool that can be used to dramatically speed up the time needed to train your lab to toilet outside and to improve their bladder and bowel control.
- Protecting your possessions – A crate is a useful tool in teaching your puppy to be fixated on chew toys and not your furniture and shoes. By securing them when you cannot supervise them, it prevents them chewing things they shouldn’t and by having chew toys in the crate, it helps them learn what they can and cannot chew.
- Boarding and kennels – If there’s ever a time you need to board your Labrador or place them in quarantine, the ordeal will be far less traumatic for your pet if they’re already accustomed to and comfortable being confined in a crate.
A quick note about boarding and kennels. When our Linus got sick he had to stay in the kennel at the vets office while he recovered.
Thank goodness he was crate trained. When I came in to stay with him he was comfortable in his crate with an IV hanging out of his leg.
These are just some of the benefits you and your Labrador can enjoy if you take the time and trouble to crate train your dog. I’m sure you’ll agree that this all sounds pretty good?
Is Crate Training Always Successful?
Sadly not. Dogs are individuals and come with their own likes and dislikes. So although a crate can be used to benefit the vast majority of dogs, there will always be a select few that just will not enjoy or accept being crated.
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: We get all of our puppies a Snuggle Puppy with Heartbeat and Heat Pack for their first nights home. It helped our last 3 puppies (Charlie, Doni, and Downey) get used to their crate in only a few nights. WARNING: The Snuggle Puppy is a plush toy so if you have a destructive dog be sure to not leave them with the Snuggle Puppy unsupervised.
This is particularly true for the occasional adopted dog for which their background is unknown.
Dogs up for adoption may have had bad and traumatic experiences with crates earlier on in their lives, where owners used a crate as a form of punishment or misused a crate amounting to imprisonment.
There are also dogs that will happily use a crate until the door is locked or they’re left alone, and will then go ballistic and do everything in their power to try to escape the crate, causing themselves distress and possibly even physical harm.
Obviously in these cases, a crate should not be used.
These cases though are the exception and not the rule. The vast majority of dogs learn to love and enjoy spending time in their crate.
Should Everybody Crate Train Their Lab?
I believe everybody should at least educate themselves on the subject and give it a go.
When a crate’s used correctly the benefits are huge, and only in the hands of people who crate inhumanely, for extended periods, for punishment and imprisonment is there any downside to it.
But you’re not that type of person and will never use it as a tool for punishment!
If you have any worries or fears about using a crate, please read the rest of this guide to see if it’s for you. Hopefully your mind will be put at rest and you’ll at least give it a go.
And please note that worldwide, countless hundreds of thousands of owners, trainers, breeders, working dog owners, agility and show competitors and even the ‘Humane society of the united states’ condone the use of a crate!
But if after trying to use a crate following the strategy in this guide, your dog doesn’t take to it, shows fear, anxiety or violently tries to chew his way out of a crate, (all of this is rare!) do not ever force them to because this is when it’s inhumane!
You just might be one of the rare cases where using a crate doesn’t suit your Lab and sometimes this needs to be accepted.
Crating doesn’t work for every single dog, but for the vast majority it does. And when it does work it’s an extremely useful tool for safety and security, benefiting the lives of both you and your Lab.
The process needs to be approached with the knowledge of what you’re trying to achieve and how a crate should be used for the benefit of your dog and not as a form of punishment or imprisonment.
By soaking up the knowledge in this guide and following the steps I outline for crate training, you and your Lab can enjoy the rewards that using a crate provides.
Your Lab will be happier, safer, more secure, less likely to engage in destructive behavior and from these facts you can enjoy a greater peace of mind that you are doing the very best for your dog.
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: Earlier we recommended the Midwest Life Stages Crate. One of our favorite features is the crate comes with a divider that allows you to adjust the size of your crate as your puppy grows.
Feedback, Questions and Comments
If you’ve any feedback or questions to ask, go ahead and leave them in the comments section below. I will always try my best to respond to every one of them.
Click here for part 2 of ‘Crate training – The complete guide‘: Why use a dog crate-and is it cruel to crate a dog?
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Top Picks For Our Dogs
- BEST PUPPY TOY
We Like: Snuggle Puppy w/ Heart Beat & Heat Pack - Perfect for new puppies. We get all of our Service Dog pups a Snuggle Puppy.
- BEST CHEW TOY
We Like: KONG Extreme - Great toy for heavy chewers like our Labrador Retrievers.
- BEST DOG TREATS
We Like: Wellness Soft Puppy Bites - One of our favorite treats for training our service dog puppies.
For a list of all the supplies we get for our new service dog puppies check out our New Puppy Checklist on the PuppyInTraining.com blog.