The Pros and Cons of Crate Training Your Doberman Puppy

Mention crate training a puppy in a crowd, and you’re likely to get a mixed reaction.  Some people will vehemently defend the practice, while others will protest that it’s cruel and inhumane to restrain a puppy in a small container.  The fact of the matter, however, is that done correctly, crate training your Doberman puppy is an act of caring that will keep him safe and happy as he grows and learns the rules of your home.

PROS of Crate Training

  • A crate offers the dog a home of his own.  Dogs are by nature pack animals who seek a den environment.  A crate simulates a warm, safe, dry haven to which the dog can retreat to rest and relax.
  • A crate helps tremendously in housebreaking a puppy.  Dogs will naturally avoid soiling their sleeping area.  Thus, if they are confined to a crate at night, or when unsupervised during the day, they will learn to refrain from relieving themselves until they are taken outside to do their business.  Please note:  A young puppy should not be left in the crate unattended for more than 2-3 hours at a stretch.
  • A crate keeps a puppy safe from himself.  Puppies are inquisitive by nature, and they explore the world with their mouths.  If not watched closely, they can be injured or killed by chewing on an electrical wire or a poisonous plant, or by ingesting something dangerous such as a sock, a sewing needle, pantyhose, etc.  Crating a puppy when you are unable to monitor his activities is an excellent way to keep him safe from harm.
  • A crate keeps a puppy from damaging your home.  Everyone knows that puppies like to chew, and they don’t know that dad’s shoe or the corner of the couch is not an acceptable toy.  Confining them to a crate when they can’t be supervised prevents accidents from happening.
  •  A crate provides a puppy with a familiar, safe space, wherever he may be. When traveling with your dog, he is much safer in the car if he is confined to a crate, where he will be less likely to be injured should an accident occur. And if you fly with your dog, he must be crated in order to travel on the plane.  Also, if you take your dog to a hotel, his crate will provide a safe, familiar home away from home, wherever you find yourself.

CONS of Crate Training

  • Cruel if dog is left in crate for excessive periods. When done correctly, crate training is a marvelous method for training and protecting your pet.  Leaving a dog in a crate for an extended period of time – more than 8 hours at a time – is cruel.
  • Cruel if the crate is too small.  When choosing a crate for your pet, you should choose a size that allows the dog to stand up and turn around comfortably.  A crate that does not allow the animal to lay down or extend its legs fully is TOO SMALL, and confining the animal to such a space is inhumane.
  •  Dangerous if crate is not assembled or ventilated properly.  If a crate is not assembled properly, it can collapse on the dog, frightening the animal and possibly causing injury.  Also, if you use a soft-sided crate in the summer, the dog may not get sufficient air flow and become overheated.
  • Dangerous if dog is placed in crate with collars and/or leads attached.  When placing a dog in a crate, one should always remove ALL collars and leashes to prevent strangulation.  A collar or lead could easily become caught on a crate and the dog could choke itself in an attempt to pull free.

Important Considerations:

  • A crate should be well constructed of high quality materials with no sharp edges that may injure your pet.  Latches should be of high quality and their functionality should be checked regularly to make sure that they are in proper working order.  While a high quality crate is more expensive, it is a good investment that will last for the life of your pet.  If you wish, you can buy your puppy a large crate that will accommodate a full-grown Doberman and simply size the crate down with a divider that can be adjusted as the puppy matures.
  • In addition to the crate, one should purchase a suitable crate mat. The mat should be thick enough to provide a soft cushion for your pet and durable enough to prevent tearing or shredding by the puppy.  You may wish to apply bitter apple to the corners and edges of the crate mat to discourage chewing.
  • The crate should be placed in a room with the family, rather than in an isolated spot.  Indeed, you may wish to purchase two crates, one for the bedroom so that the puppy will be nearby at night and one for another room in the house that is near the center of family activities.
  • A single, favorite (and safe) toy may be placed in the crate with the puppy to prevent boredom and increase feelings of security.
  • A radio playing soft music may be placed in the room with the crate to provide company for the puppy.  Note: avoid talk radio, as the strange, often argumentative voices may be disturbing to your pet.

– Lory Mirazita