“Crate Debate” and Rattlesnake Season

By Rish Burkholder and Linda Harms

Q: Why does my dog need a crate? Isn’t a crate just a cage?

A: Crates would be more appealing to pet owners if they looked like little dog houses. Some crates do look like cages, but let’s look at the benefits of a crate.

Dogs have a natural instinct for a safe haven. Long before dogs were domesticated, they dug shallow holes in the ground where they slept and kept hidden from predators. These are known as a den. Foxes and wolves in the wild use this form of shelter. There is just enough room for them to turn around and lie down comfortably.

The ‘crate’ is a modern version of the den. It is a dog house or ‘bedroom’ in your home where your dog can feel safe and secure. The crate is a place where your dog can go for privacy or to avoid too much activity such as visitors or during meal preparation. The size of a crate need only be big enough for the dog to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably.

A crate can be a used when training your pet. Housebreaking your pet will be easier and destructive behaviors like chewing are better controlled with the use of a crate. When traveling with your pet, a crate will keep your pet safe and can reduce their anxiety in the car. Lodging that accepts pets is sometimes hard to find but many hotels will accept a pet if your dog is crate trained.

If your dog is not accustomed to a crate, put the crate is an area of the house where he can see you. Let him explore the crate. Put a favorite toy or blanket in the crate. Try putting a treat in the crate. If he goes in the crate on his own, reward him. Try short periods of time with the door shut to get him use to the enclosure. Use a word such a “Kennel” when your dog goes in so this will become the command word to let your dog know you want him to go into the crate.

Q.  I like to take my dogs with me on hikes.  My neighbor warned me it is rattlesnake season, is this true?

A.  Yes, this is prime rattlesnake season.  When hiking with your dog, or even taking your dog to a dog park, be aware of this danger. A curious dog can be struck by a rattlesnake in an instant!  It is always prudent to carry a rattlesnake kit and know how to use it!  If your dog is bitten—please get him to the veterinarian ASAP!  Be aware of favorite rattlesnake “hang-outs.”  Rattlers like to sunbathe around warm rock piles.  They have even been known to get into warm vehicle engines.  Personally, I feel safer keeping my dog close to me and on lead when hiking during rattlesnake season.

Photo Caption: Abby’s first crate. This was Abby’s traveling crate when she flew to Denver from Minnesota as a puppy.

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