To crate or not to crate, that is the question. Ok, this might not be Shakespeare quality, but hopefully still a pretty informative article if you’re pondering a crate or an exercise pen for your dog. In this article, we’ll look at both the pros and cons of crates and exercise pens and give our opinion on their use.
Why do people crate their dogs? Crates offer a safe place for your puppy or adult dog, providing them with a sense of security. When conditioned to the crate through positive reinforcement, the puppy enjoys spending time there. This is a place where they can de-stress and unwind, secure in the knowledge that they’re out of harm’s way. A crate is a valuable tool when helping a dog recover from an injury where they are required to take it easy.
Crate training is also a very good way to potty train a puppy. Since dogs don’t like to soil the area where they’re sleeping, they’ll learn bladder control to keep from going in the crate. You can read our blog on potty-training a puppy for more information!
Like crates, exercise pens also offer a protected area for the dog. Conditioned correctly, they will enjoy spending time here too. Exercise pens are larger than crates and offer the dog more room to move and stretch. This is both a benefit and a drawback. They allow enough room for the dog to designate an area as the bathroom if they choose to do so, so is not a good method of house training. If you know you’re going to be out a long time though, an exercise pen can be preferred in order to give the dog more freedom of movement, while still keeping them contained to one area where the chances of getting into trouble are limited. Ex Pens are also a great way to let a puppy enjoy some outdoor time in an environment where he will stay safe!
Both crates and exercise pens can be used to keep a puppy from chewing up the house when you’re out or trying to get chores done. They can also be used to calm an overexcited dog down and give them a place where they can relax and feel safe.
Since we started with the ‘pros’ of crates, let’s start with the ‘cons’ of crates too. A crate is not meant to be a long-term housing solution for a puppy. Puppies need a time out of the crate to run, play, and use the outdoor bathroom. Some people forget this and keep the puppy in the crate all day. This can lead to all kinds of anxieties as the puppy grows to see the crate as punishment or as abandonment.
Like crates, exercise pens can have the same effect if used improperly. They do have extra room and the puppy is able to interact with the family more from the ex-pen than the crate. Toys can be added to make it more fun, but the puppy still needs direct contact with the family and to run and play outside. As with a crate, aggression and/or anxieties can result from improper use or overuse of an ex-pen.
So, should you use either one? If so, which one? Yes, we do recommend their use, and we recommend them both depending on the situation. A crate is much better from potty- training. Once the puppy is house trained, a crate is still a great place to let the puppy unwind and de-stress. Some people will house their puppy in the crate overnight and the puppy settles in happily. An exercise pen is good for when the puppy will have to spend an extended period in there during the day. If you’re cleaning or working from home, an exercise pen will allow you worry-free time while still allowing the dog some freedom to play and interact. Just remember – everything in moderation!
Used properly, both the crate and the exercise pen will provide the puppy with safety and security while allowing you the comfort of knowing that your house is safe from the puppy and your puppy is safe from all the dangers lurking in your house!