Down South Westies
                                         ...Home of beautiful, loving, West Highland White Terriers!

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These cute pups are Francie and Gigi at 9 weeks.  We imported them from Scotland and they arrived April 1, 2003, April Fool’s Day!


The Case Against Crate Training!

When you were growing up, did your friends have dogs?  Were these dogs housetrained and generally well-behaved?  Odds are the answer is, "Yes".  Then I ask you, were these dogs kept in cages?  Odds are your answer is "Never".

Several Years ago a new phenomenon emerged among dog trainers called "crate-training".   "Crate-training" is simply a euphemism of keeping a dog in a cage.   Crate training was touted as the perfect solution to the problem of housetraining.  And it was.  After all, dogs kept in cages didn't have access to their owner's homes and carpets.
Caging relies on the fact that our dogs are clean by nature and won't soil where they have to sleep or stay.  But caging never teaches a dog how to be housetrained.  In essence, it's an avoidance technique that doesn't address the task of housetraining.  Many people who have caged their dogs for housetraining purposes don't know when they can trust Fido enough to let him out of the cage.

This does not hold true for the average family.  In the average household, both spouses work outside the home at least 8 hours a day.  They also sleep approximately 8 hours. So far that's 16 hours that Fido will be in a cage.  Add a couple of hours for shopping, errands, and dinner out and you're up to 18 hours a day that the dog is confined. 

Three-quarters of a day is too much time for any dog to be confined.  If you say that your busy life won't permit you to devote more time to a dog, you're probably better off with a pet that requires less maintenance - like a fish!

Instead, housetraining is achieved by regulating your puppy's food and water intake, putting him on a regular walking schedule, watching your puppy for the tell-tale signs that he has to "go", and confining him in a small gated area (the kitchen is ideal) when you cannot watch him with a hawk eye.  Never set him up to “fail”.  This takes time and effort, but it will work in the end and your dog will be truly housetrained.

By using gates, you can start off with a small area and when the puppy has shown he can keep that area unsoiled, you can gradually increase the area of his confinement.  As housetraining proceeds, you'll be giving your puppy more and more space.  Your ultimate goal is to give your dog the entire run of your house.  Gates afford you the flexibility of increasing the area of confinement - cages do not.

Crates (carriers) are important and every dog owner should have one - for transporting your dog.  They afford your dog protection when he's in your car and you come to a sudden stop.

By week 3, we place a crate (door removed) inside the puppy area so they can become accustomed to it.  The entire litter soon is sleeping in it, all piled up together.  We think it is a good idea the first few nights to let the new pup sleep on the floor beside your bed in his crate.  Just hang your hand off the bed and let him lick and bite on your finger.  He will soon go to sleep without a fuss because he is already accustomed to sleeping in his crate.

We do not place our pups in homes where no one is there to care for him in the daytime.  Expecting him to stay in a crate for long hours is cruel.  It is not fair to the pup or you in regards to housetraining.  Both become frustrated because a pup cannot "hold it" for long periods of time.

If Fido spends the vast majority of his day in a cage, he'll never have free run of the house.

Here is a study published in 1996 by the
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association: Risk factors for relinquishment of dogs to an animal shelter:

"Dogs who spend most of the day in the yard or in a crate were at an increased risk for surrender to the shelter.
The study was not able to determine whether these dogs had been relegated to the yard or a crate as a result of behavioral problems or whether keeping dogs in these situations resulted in isolation from the family, with less attachment and less training, thereby increasing the risk of relinquishment."

Our dogs are beloved family members and need to be treated as such. You wouldn't keep your child confined to his room for his entire youth and adolescence, would you? You'd have one maladjusted young person! You want your child to be an active, full participant in your household and your life. The same goes for our dogs. And cages will never permit this to happen.