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Kennel Questions

Far Fetched Dog Podcast
Far Fetched Dog Podcast
Kennel Questions

Why is kenneling so important? What kind is best? And what are some of the most common mistakes people make while kennel training?

Cara and Crystal dive into the details to talk about introducing the kennel at different life stages and how kennels might be useful for a lot more than just potty training and containing.

Cara Sue Achterburg & Crystal Dunn


Cara Achterburg 0:08
Hey, welcome to the dog ten. I am Cara Achterburg. I’m an author and advocate for rescue dogs. And I am the co host of this, although I am not the one with the answers. The one with the answers is the indominable Crystal Dunn, who is my favorite trainer, and hopefully yours too. And we have a really great topic today. But first Crystal, tell them who you are, where they can find you and what you’re all about.

Crystal Dunn 0:31
I’m just here for all the nice intros that you give me. I am Crystal Dunn, and I have a podcast called far fetched. It’s a dog pod.

Cara Achterburg 0:43
And it’s all about dog myths and misconceptions. And you can find this episode on that same feed right now. Wherever you listen,

so yeah, so today’s topic is a really, really good one. That’s a really timely one. And I’m going to lead into it. I’m going to tell a little quick story, but I’m tell the topic is crate training, which is a hot topic. I know this because I fostered over well, almost 200 dogs in it. I get the question a lot. How do you I mean, I say to everybody, this dog is cratering. I don’t think a single one of my foster dogs left my house not crate trained. And I stressed how important it was that the puppies were not okay, the puppies. But I did stress how important it was to crate train for a lot of reasons like when they’re puppies, it’s because we don’t want them to wreck your house. But I learned firsthand. Recently, when my dog had an awful accident, he put his feet through a glass window, sliced up his his legs, terribly cut it in a sliced attendant cut arteries. I mean, we were here, thank God and we got him to an ER and he had some extensive surgery. And the vet said to me, when she was telling me what was going to happen and how much money it was going to cost and all of that she said, keeping him still afterwards is going to be critical. And I said, okay, but he’s great train. And she said Thank God, she said, so many people come in here with their dogs having had some traumatic accident or been in an accident and car accident or whatever reason they end up in the ER. And the recovery is so it’s important that they be still and if they’re not crate trained, that’s really difficult. And she just said, I don’t know how people do it, who aren’t crate trained. Thank goodness, he’s crate trained. And it was a really good thing that we were able to keep them very, very still. And because of that so. So that’s just a side note. Not only did you create train your dog for reasons, like we talked in one episode about preparing them for boarding. Also, keeping puppies safe, keeping your house safe. And in the unfortunate event that your dog would have to have surgery, it’s important that their crate train. So today we’re going to talk about crate training how to best crate train your dog crystal take it away.

Crystal Dunn 2:53
Yeah, this is kind of a big one too, because there’s many different stages that a dog can go into crate training out, you got puppies that are just getting started in life, and they have no preconceived notions about what’s normal. And that’s always the easiest time to start of course, because you’re kind of establishing that normal with them. So if you have a puppy, my advice is always start crate training right away as young as possible. Start with an X pen with Mama so that they get used to the idea of just the look of kind of a crate or pen setting. And, and then from there, start transitioning into a crate while you’re potty training and stuff too. And it’s another great use for crate training writers because if you’re potty training a dog crates, one of the only ways and keeping them confined is one of the only ways to teach them how to control their bladder and wait to go outside. Dogs are naturally very neat animals, they’re usually going to wait and hold their bladder until they’re outside of a crate. So that’s why crates are really effective for potty training too. But beyond that crates are going to help manage your destructive behaviors and everything too. So as you puppies growing up and gradually spending more time in there, one big mistake that ends up happening is a lot of people only put the puppy or the young dog in the crate when they leave the house. So then the dog starts associating crate time with being alone and you leaving. And that can be a really negative association, they start to build up over time. So we want to try and put the dog in for naps and stuff when you’re actually home and desensitize them to you moving around the crate, things like that too. Just tons of really great videos out there that you can look up on YouTube, just like crate games and stuff that you can play. I call it the inout game where you just toss the treat in puppy goes in, it’s a treat to get to come right back out. Then you slowly desensitize them to the door shutting behind them, so on and so forth. But in short, like if you’re having them spend time in there with their mother, if you’re having them spend time in there when they first come to your house alone, and their toys are in there at first and their water and their food might be in there at first and they’re really small. That really becomes kind of a home base for them a very comfortable kind of den like setting right there’s a lot of talking dog training about like, well, that’s their den, they don’t hate it, they won’t hate it. If it’s presented to them in a positive light. If you accidentally counter conditioned imitating it, then then they will hate it. If they only have to go in there when they’re in trouble or when they’re going to be alone, they’re not going to dig it. So try to put them in there. Think of it like toddlers need naps, baby dogs need naps, and they’re not always going to tell you it’s usually when they get real Malfi that they need a nap. They just need to go in there for sometimes just 15 minutes at a time just to chill out sometimes a couple hours. So that like kind of randomizing of using it at first and playing those great games and making it a like fun experience for them can be really, really helpful in introducing a kennel. And beyond that, when you’re taking a new dog into your house, a lot of times they’re not kennel trained, right, so you’re starting with a dog who’s mature. Maybe a dog has been in a shelter and already has a negative association with being contained. Those dogs can have a much harder time acclimating to a kennel, and those are usually the cases where you might need to bring in a professional to help guide you through it, if needed. I’ve met dogs that had such negative associations with a kennel that they could not use them at first, and it took months and months and months to acclimate them which can be really problematic when you have a destructive dog and in that environment too. So in those cases are usually had a kennel present, and the dog had to stay in a smaller room where they could be contained. But introducing a dog to the kennel that’s more mature is a gentler process for sure. But it’s also an urgent one just like it is with a puppy. You can’t bring your new rescue dog home, let them get comfortable on the bed and a couch because you feel sorry for them. Set these new expectations in this new environment and expect them to three days later, just go into kennel training right so the second you get home that dog is starting to learn going in and out of the kennel playing kennel games, finding their food in their kennel or eating in their kennel as a whole. Those things can really help acclimate them to that environment, help them accept that this is just part of their deal. And if you can do it for these really short bursts of time, you can also help them understand that this isn’t like a forever thing they’re not going to be stuck in there for hours upon hours on end for the rest of their lives, which is all some of them really have to associate with a kennel especially if they spent most of their time in a in a shelter. So

So yeah, those are kind of my takes on kennel training and how to introduce it. I do want to stress reach out for help if your dog it has such a negative association with the kennel that they’re destroying it or that they’re getting out of it. And I’ve worked with a lot of pitbulls who could take down a kennel no problems. Like I’ve gone to houses where the kennels literally looked like had been run over by a Mack truck.

Cara Achterburg 7:57
Scary Thing too. And they can do that because they can get hurt. And I’m gonna throw a few things in here just because I have so much crazy experience from fostering Yeah, we always use zip ties to zip tie the corners of our kennels because that’s where they break out. So we would use zip ties and zip tie both sides, all corners and down the sides. Anywhere there’s a gap along the bottom. Make sure you flip that little handle up so they can’t slide they can’t like dig and dig and pull the whole base out that plastic thing out. Yeah. So there were a lot of tricks for doing that. And I have a question for you about it too. But I was going to talk about that we were trade crate training a dog hits not been in a kennel. I always made it a fabulous experience. I gave them the cushiest memory foam bed possible, unless they

Crystal Dunn 8:42
There’s the caveat, right?

Yeah, and I gave them choice or they only got in the kennel. I gave them treats that they only got when they went in into the crate. And so we tried to make it a really really special special experience. So they want and I always fed them in there too. And that way they knew Oh, especially really food motivated dogs were thrilled to go in there because they knew it meant food. So yeah, question though. One of the things that I did do and I hope it was the right thing was for some of these dogs that were really overwhelmed I covered their crate with like, I usually left the door open but I covered it with like a blanket so that it really was like a little key. I’m in this little cage. Yeah. See, they’re like nothing can get me in and they go in and out the opening of the cave is that

it’s really specific to the dog right so some dogs really enjoyed via feeling enclosed. They can feel safer in that environment. others it might freak out so it’s just something you can try. The same goes for like dapped diffusers to release the mama hormone that can help some dogs really chill out. I’ve seen about I’d say it’s about 80% effective. You’ve got sound makers, some will replicate the sound of the womb others are just nice, you know white noise makers, those can really help. You really kind of have to take To the dog because some dogs really can’t handle having all that stuff, the more sound the more anxiety they have, or, or the, the more enclosed, the more nervous they become. Or maybe they’re the type that will pull the blanket through and eat it. Yeah. So you kind of have to tailor it. Same goes for bones and stuff. I think giving bones and the high value chew toys in a kennel is really, really great. But you do have to spend the time to monitor that interaction when you first give it to the dog so that especially if you’re just getting to know this dog, you don’t know what they’re eating style is you don’t know if they’re a whole bone swallow or if they’re gonna take it easy. Speaking from experience here. Well just hand them the toy.

Cara Achterburg 10:40
What about placement of the crate, like I had a lot of times we kept our dogs in the kitchen to our foster dog. So they were with us where we were most of the time, but I also had dogs that were really anxious. And sometimes I would move the crate to a really quiet space. Is there any rule on that? Or is that again just done by dogs?

Crystal Dunn 10:57
Yeah, I think it’s again, it’s just dog by dog. I think some dogs really need the quieter space a lot of times we make mistake by putting the dogs kennel in a completely different area to house I think that’s usually a bigger issue because then the dog feels very alienated and dogs don’t their family animals they don’t want to be cast away from everybody. So oftentimes leaving the dog in a more highly trafficked area in their kennel is a lot more effective than say, like putting their kennels in a garage or something if you want a dog to hate their kennel put it in. Yeah, it’s not a good place for a duck. For a lot of reasons. But, um, but yeah, so like, I I tend to tell my clients, especially when they have puppies if they’re acclimating to have a kennel in their bedroom and in their living room, or to move their kennel from room to room, depending on what time of day it is, so that the dog is not completely abandoned in there.

Cara Achterburg 11:50
Right. So we did 10 minutes, but I had one,

Crystal Dunn 11:54
we can split this one in to stop and

Cara Achterburg 11:56
you can leave now if you’ve lost and you’ve had 10 minutes and we’ve already crossed our demand line, we try not to cross the line. But um, so just wanted to touch really quickly on types of crates, because I have all kinds. I have airline crates, I have a wire crates, and I have a soft sided crate which my dog Fanny recently broke out of eight her way out of looking for someone to serve and repair it. Because they’re so easy to take when you travel. Yeah. Is there anything you know, general rules as to why would you use airline versus a wire versus the soft side to create so somebody out here is watching listening to this. And they’re they’re thinking I need to create train my dog. What kind of crate do they get?

Crystal Dunn 12:36
Yeah, I always start with the wire like cage like crates, because you can, they’re just a little bit more flexible in what they can do. They lay flat easier to take up less space for storage, they’re easier to clean. You know, just in general, I can cover them if I need to, I can leave them uncovered if I need to. So those are my go to but they are the most they are the easiest to mangle and break out of. So if you have a Houdini, you definitely need to zip tie at the very least if not, you might consider a more of like an airline crate like the hard plastic sides ones. Those are great for dogs who really like to be enclosed, who you know are going to be traveling in that in the future if they do need to be flown somewhere something that’s the great to go with so that it feels like home. They’re also pretty easy to clean, not as easy, they definitely take up more space, but they have their own their own use for sure. In a lot of cases, you might need a covered crate that’s like actually hard plastic and then a little bit harder to get out of in my experience. And then you’ve got your soft fabric and stuff. Those are just your luxury kennels, you know those aren’t really for any practical use except to say like my dog who’s already very comfortable in a kennel will go in there and maybe they like to have it’s more of a house.

Cara Achterburg 13:51
It’s so easy to take places with you and you can unzip the top. I love to having fun. They were puppies. It was great when they were puppies, but then I don’t remember what happened why Fanny broke out of hers but she tore her way out the side window to get it repaired. I don’t know why because she’ll probably do it again. But I just thought we’re gonna take a trip this winter and I have to take three crates and I would like to take that one because it’s so light

Crystal Dunn 14:14
well in the last one to mention is the the military grade kennels are heavily enforced super ones no one can get out of thankfully they’re more readily available than they used to be. We used to have to special order those suckers for a couple grand from like specialty sites and now you can buy one on Amazon if you want for 500 bucks. They’re not cheap, but actually it might be cheaper than that in some places but they are the reinforced kind of got the thicker bars. They are much harder to get out of if you’re training you know military dogs and these channels. They’re they’re pretty secure. But those are really great for dogs who do Houdini out and who are very powerful you know your your you know Pitbull breeds and stuff like that who are Have some who have figured out they can get out of the kennel often need what it does

Cara Achterburg 15:05
and have the strength to do it.

Yeah. All right, cool. Well, we

went a little over. Sorry about that everyone. We try not to do that.

Crystal Dunn 15:13
I think I think was helpful info.

Cara Achterburg 15:16
So thanks for being here with us. Join us again, you can find us right now on the farfetched But we’re gonna maybe have our own place someday.

Crystal Dunn 15:26
Yeah, we’re gonna we might move this over to its own RSS feed. Now that we’ve got some of these episodes, put them out. We get a lot

Cara Achterburg 15:33
more questions. So send us your questions. You can comment rate on farfetched podcast or you can message crystal directly or you can message me directly or find us and send us your questions and we will attempt to tackle Yes. All right. I’ll see you next time. Cara

Transcribed by

Crystal Dunn
Crystal Dunn

Crystal Dunn is a professional writer, dog behavior consultant, and the host of the Far Fetched Dog Podcast. Known for her activism for Pit Bulls, she currently serves on the advisory board at She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, daughter, and two pit bulls.

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