Myth: Crate Training a puppy is cruel.
Fact: Crate Training is ideal for puppies, especially for giant breeds like German Shepherds.
- Genetics: Wolves are born in caves. Hence, they always feel safe and comfortable in choosing caves as their lairs. It’s a preference ingrained in their genetic blueprint that has been passed down to many members of the canine species, including GSDs. GSDs feel safer and can rest with a greater level of comfort if crated.
- Helps in Housebreaking: Crate training is ideal for developing good toilet habits in a young puppy. If trained that the crate is their home/bed and needs to be kept clean at all times, they’ll learn the importance of taking their business outside and bladder accidents can be kept to a minimum.
- Protects from cold: Our GSDs hate to sleep on the pet bedding available at stores; you give them a bed and they’ll shred it to pieces in no time. Crating them in cold winter nights prevents them from sleeping on bare floors and protects them against cold.
- Helps in transportation: We make frequent cross-country road trips with Enzo and Oly; they can’t wear seat belts and we can’t perpetually drive at 15 mph. We’ve figured out the best way of transporting them and giving them a smooth ride, when they’re traveling with us or even headed to the training field or the vet’s office, is placing them in crates stationed at the back of our jeep. Now for this, they’ve got to love their crates, otherwise they’ll just refuse to go in. So, consistent crate training is a must. All we need to do is make regular stops during the drive and offer them water to drink and a chance to relieve themselves if needed.
Oly, our show line pup, loved his crate at the very first sight of it. But Enzo, the working line pup, is different. He is a free spirit and has a very strong mind of his own. He would never get into his crate of his own free will. That’s where treats did the trick. Enzo can kill for chicken breast strips, Enzo can die for chicken breast strips. All Hubby needed to do was to get a strip out of the bag, lure Enzo with it, motion Enzo to his crate, and say the command “IN”; Enzo would go in and asked to “SITZ” (“sit”command in German); as soon as he followed the command he would get the treat. The door of the crate would be left open for Enzo to come out when he wished. This went on for days until Enzo realized that crate was actually a fun place to be in and let us lock the door without whining.
Crating for how long is OK?
When the pups were young (12-16 weeks) we would crate them for 10-15 minutes each day. This would be just for practice. As their bladder control kept improving, this length of time was adjusted accordingly, increasing slowly but steadily. Now Enzo (2.5 years) and Oly (1 year) can be crated for a maximum of 5-6 hours during the day If Needed. Also, they prefer to sleep in their crates at night as the crates keep them warm and cozy.