Dogs and cats have a natural tendency to squeeze their way into tight spaces, be it under chairs, behind lounges, in the closet or underneath the table. Though this might seem strange to their owners, it’s actually an intrinsic quality in all dogs and cats. Being den animals by nature, dogs and cats have a tendency to search for den-like spaces, indoors and outdoors, to use as a resting place. That’s why crates are a fantastic investment, mimicking dens and providing a safe, secure and homely environment that a dog or cat naturally clings to. When considering travelling with your pet, a crate is a must have, whether it be for transport or when keeping your pet unattended in your hotel room (if permitted). Here we will explain how you can crate train your pet for travel.
1. Purchase the right crate
Firstly, it is important to choose the perfect crate size for your pet. Crates come in many different shapes and sizes, so make sure you measure your pet before buying the crate. Generally, the crate must be large enough for your dog/cat to stand up, turn and stretch. However, ensure that it’s not too large so that your pet can’t use as a bathroom.
Crates also come in different materials and styles. If you plan on flying your pet at some stage if my be more cost efficient to buy an airline approved crate. Other popular crates include wire crates and soft crates. These types are usually collapsible and good to store in the car if your running short of space.
Wire crates often come with a divider panel, so you can increase the size of the crate as your puppy or kitten grows.
2. Make it cozy and comfortable
Making the crate comfortable before you begin crate training, is a crucial step in the process. Your pet needs to feel safe and cozy! Make sure to put in their favourite blanket, toy and treats into the crate. A good trick is also to put something in the crate with your scent on it, such as your t-shirt or sock.
3. Placement of the crate
Placement of the crate is also key to making it comfortable for your pet. Keep the door open so that your fur baby can investigate and freely move in and out of the crate. During the day, keep the crate in the living room to make them feel included in the family. At night, either move the crate to your bedroom, or buy a second crate that is kept in your room. It is vital that your pet can sleep near you because they instinctively enjoy sleeping near their pack.
4. Slow introduction to the crate
When you first bring the crate into your home, your pet will be naturally curious. They will enter the crate at some stage and it is important that they do so free willingly.
Once they enter the crate, make sure to give plenty of praise and treats so that the associate it with a positive experience. Continue to provide praise every time your pet enters the crate. If your pet is taking a bit more time, just be patient and encourage them in with treats and toys. A good trick is feeding your fur baby in the crate.
Eventually, your pet will become more and more comfortable with entering and staying in the crate.
5. Increasing introduction to the crate
Once your pet has become comfortable with staying in the crate(door open), as well as going in and out of the crate, it is time to notch things up a bit.
The first thing you’ll want to do is get them used to being in the crate with the door closed. Keep in mind that you must proceed with caution here as if you move too quickly, your pet may become stressed and you will have to repeat some of the previous steps. Start by closing the door behind them for just a few seconds and gradually increase it over time. Make sure your pet is comfortable and be sure to offer lots of praise and treats. Also remember to always be within their sight while you are crate training as this will make your pet less distressed. For example, If your working from home, you could place the crate next to your desk.
Your dog may whine and bark a bit, which is to be expected. Make sure to let them out of the crate after they have calmed down. Otherwise your teaching your dog that if he/she whines or barks, you will let them out.
At night, it is a good idea to leave your dog or puppy in the crate so he/she cannot pee on the floor, but make sure to take them outside first thing in the morning.
6. Trialling your pet in the crate whilst in the car
Once your pet is comfortable in the crate, it is time to do a trail run in the car. This will help prepare them when you go on your next road trip or if you plan on flying your pet. Take them around town when you run your errands. Encourage your pet and reassure them if they are feeling distressed. A good idea is to throw in a favourite treat or toy to keep them occupied.
Tips for crate training your pet
- If you can, start training your pet from a young age.
- Avoid leaving your pet in the crate for extensive periods.
- Don’t use the crate as punishment
- Do not let your pet dog out of the crate if he or she is barking or whining- wait for them to calm down first!
Crates are wonderful sanctuary for your pet and provide ample opportunity for training.
Travelling with your pet will be made easier with the use of crates, and the experience will be stress-free for both pet and owner.
Happy travels with your pet!