Crate Management - how to get the most out of your pet's container

There is nothing glamourous about this look. And I think that is what makes many dog and cat moms and dads think of crates and kennels as if they were pet jail. However, a good quality and well maintained kennel may be a life saver for your pet, and may make it easier to care for your pet. Here are some tips that we found work well.

Keeping your pet's cage accessible in the home environment can prevent the pet from learning that that appearance of the crate is followed by vaccines. Some clients have cat carriers that look like pet beds with mesh tops that are zipped on only for travel. My sister trained her kittens to go for a walk in their cat stroller; when this stroller is not on the sidewalk, the stroller stays in the living area, and provides a place for the cats to sleep and play.

I have had good success crate training my cats. Midwest sells a cat condo, which is a very large wire cage with two platforms inside. There is enough room in this cage for the cat, a litter box, a bed, food, and water. This is not a good place for a cat to live, but this is a great place for a cat to go to sleep, and to rest safely while I am not at home. A cat who is used to being in this cage may be safely transported in the cage if needed; also, the cat may be secured in the cage at home if visitors are present.

If there is not enough floor space for the Midwest cat condo, a smaller airline crate may be placed in the cat's environment. I found the plastic of the airline crates are easier to clean than the metal bars of a cage. Also, the cat may feel secure in a plastic crate that is just large enough to stand and turn around in. The key to getting your cat to like the crate is to not attach the door, unless it is needed to transport the cat. Try placing one or more crates around the house, and include a special treat or toy in the crates. A soft towel may make a crate a cozy place to sleep. They key to making this work is to introduce the crate long before it is needed for transport.

If you are using your crate to housebreak a pup, please select a crate that is just big enough for your pet to stand in and turn around. Although an oversized cage may act as a playpen, it typically does not help when your goal is to get the pet to potty outside. This is because a spacious crate may be large enough in your pup's mind to provide a bathroom zone and a sleeping zone. A tiny crate will act as a dog's den, which he will instinctively not soil. Okay, he may urinate on himself once or twice, but most pups are repulsed by the idea of being covered in excrement. So they quickly will learn not to make a mess like that.

If your pet soils himself in the crate, you may wash him multiple times daily, if needed. Tiny crates are easy to bring outside or to a laundry sink to be hosed. Also, tiny crates may be handy when an adult pet travels in a car or a plane. This is why I recommend buying a just-big-enough crate for your young pet. This is definitively not enough room for living, but just the right size for travel or quick containment when a visitor arrives.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Lets work together to have your pet experience the best life!

Maureen Kubisz, DVM

Total Pet Hospital LLC

1100 US Hwy 9

Howell, NJ 07731

(732) 780-4499

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