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Consider Crate Training your Brittanys

Some people think of the kennel crate as a “cage” with all the negative connotations that go with that term. However, it is actually a “den” that takes advantage of a dog’s natural instinct to find a safe, enclosed space to rest. Most veterinarians, breeders and trainers recommend using a crate to assist in housebreaking a new puppy and we agree!

Dogs' will naturally dig to create a den or seek out a safe enclosed area to sleep. Domestic dogs still retain the instinct to den and that it why you will often see house dogs sleeping under tables or in other enclosed, protected areas. Outside, a doghouse can serve the same function or the dog may lie under bushes, under the porch, etc.

There are two basic types of crates. The first is a wire crate such as the one in the photo on the left, or the "airline" kennel and is shown in the photo below.

Not all crates of the "airline" type are approved by the airlines, so if you think you will be flying your dog on occasion, please check with the airlines & the pet store to be sure your crate is the proper brand, and size need to accommodate the airlines. My personal preference is a sturdy wire crate with a clip area, or spring loaded latches, as it allows the dogs to see and has full air circulation. I do also use the airline crates, as they are lighter weight and are easily covered with a large towel to allow for sleeping at night, You need to decide what is best for your circumstances.

When you are first starting your dog with a crate

When my puppies are young I use the crate at night for sleeping, napping and when I can not keep a visual eye on them. I also feed my puppies in the crate so they consider this their home. Be sure the crate is not too big, offer them bedding (I use a towel until they are house broken so it can easily be thrown in the washer) I do not discipline them for accidents in their crate. I find they prefer to have a clean bed and will quickly keep their home clean.

I use treats when they go back in their crate, a small piece of cheese, a biscuit, or whatever you like to use.

I put the dog on a schedule, i.e. first thing in the morning out side they go. After they do their business inside for short play time, then feed them in their crate, I wait about 15 minutes, then send them back out to hopefully do their business again. If I have time before work or I start my day, another round of time loose to play or just keep me company. Then one last time outside, back in their kennel. Then back outside, loose and about. back outside, you can see the pattern. Alway tell them how great they are when they do what you want. I keep my water down all day and pick up in the early evening. As they progress the time between needing to go out will increase.

Using a Crate for Travel
While housebreaking is the number one reason that people begin to crate train their dogs, keeping your Brittany safe while traveling could actually be the best reason for crate training. Suppose you are involved in an accident with your dog in the car, something we hope will never happen....If the dog is riding loose, he can become a flying object, probably injuring himself and possibly others in your car as a result. Car doors often come open during accidents and a loose dog will most certainly jump out of the car into traffic. If he escapes he could be hit by another car, if the dog bolts they could become lost forever in unfamiliar territory.

If he is safely enclosed in a crate, he will not only be unable to run off, he will be protected by the crate itself. Even if the crate is expelled from the car during the chaos of an accident, the dog is much more likely to escape injury because he is protected by the walls of the crate. Some crates test better in accidents then others, newer crates have been developed for just such an occasions.

Traveling by air requires that pets be confined to an approved crate. While flying can be stressful for dogs, the trip can be made less stressful if your dog is already accustomed to a crate and has come to regard it as a safe place. Once you reach your destination, the crate keeps working for you (and your dog) since many hotels and motels that accept pets require that they be crated to prevent property damage.

Home Safety and Security
If properly introduced, a crate can reduce separation anxiety because your dog sees it as his “den” or safe place. Use of a crate also prevents destructive behavior such as chewing inappropriate items (like your living room sofa). Crating keeps your Brittany away from potentially harmful household items like dangerous chemicals, electrical wires, etc.)

You will be doing your Brittany a real favor by keeping him safe and out of trouble!

Boarding your dog
You may have to go out of town and leave your dog at a boarding kennel or friend’s home. A crate trained dog will probably adapt to either or these situations much more easily. Most kennels will allow you to bring the dog's crate with you so that he has his own familiar “bed” while at the kennel. If he’s a guest at someone’s home, your friends will probably appreciate having a crate trained dog in their care as it makes their job much easier!

Recovering a Lost Dog

In the unfortunate circumstance that your pet is missing or lost, you can provide a safe retreat by leaving a crate with water and a blanket at the animal’s last known location. A familiar place with familiar scents may encourage the dog to wait in its crate until you are reunited. Should this ever happen, you will be extremely glad that you crate trained your dog right from the beginning!