Are you looking for a way to keep your dog safe and secure? There are many options for dog enclosures, and it's important to know what to look for before you invest in a dog containment system for your home. First, think about your needs. Do you find it impossible to dog proof your home? When you leave for a short period, do you return to find personal items chewed up, or possibly worse, that your dog has relieved himself on your carpet? Both kennels and doggy gates work well to train your dog to stay in a specified area.
Will your dog adjust best to a kennel, gate or fenced area?
A kennel, also known as a dog crate, is a great option if you're looking to contain your dog to a specific area. There are three options of kennels to consider: wire, plastic and soft-sided. A wire kennel is a great option for larger dogs, though small dogs can feel just as at home in a wire kennel, too. A plastic crate provides more privacy and is required for air travel. Finally, a soft-sided kennel is usually used for smaller dogs, and often for temporary transport or sleeping quarters.
It's important to choose the right-sized kennel regardless of what material you use. Your dog needs to have enough room to stand up comfortably and turn around. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers provides a guide for dog parents on what size to purchase. You can always make it more comfortable by putting down some bedding or towels and providing him with a toy or two to keep him occupied when you're away. You can also throw in an old sweatshirt, or something else with your scent, to help keep him calm while you're away.
If you're looking for dog enclosures that will keep your pet in specific areas of your home — and out of others — a gate is the perfect option for you. Similar to baby gates that keep young children from accessing the stairs or dangerous areas of the home, a doggy gate will keep your pet where you want him. Most doggy gates are adjustable. Install it so your dog cannot crawl underneath it or jump over it. Also, make sure it is secure and that he won't be able to push it over with his weight. It should also be durable in case he tries to claw through it the first couple of times you leave him fenced in a room.
Some dogs like to roam, and if your dog is one of them, consider erecting a fence around your property when you let your dog outside to play or go relieve himself. Fences come in all different materials — from metal to wood — and can be designed to complement your house. Also, the length of the fence you install will vary based on your dog's size and your individual needs. It's best to get the fence installed professionally so that your dog cannot dig under it or jump over it to escape.
Tips for training your dog to respect dog enclosures
First, teach your dog that the enclosure is not a "bad" place. The absolute most important thing you can do to train your dog is to never punish him by using a kennel or by gating and fencing him into an area. Since you love your dog, you want to make him feel comfortable with this new place. Start by slowly introducing him and allowing him to spend time inside the kennel or near the gates or fence. Over time, your dog will see the enclosure as a safe place and won't be fazed by the gates or fence.
Also, firmly train your dog to respect the boundaries you are setting. Don't falter with training, and remember to be consistent. You can't gate off an area one day but allow access on a different day.
One final note, if barking has become an issue with dog containment, work on training your dog. You can help your dog by removing some outside stimuli that are causing him to bark. If your yard is fenced in a way that your postal worker needs to walk far past the enclosure, consider moving the mailbox. If you're gating your dog from one area of the house, don't leave his food in the area he can't access.
Dog enclosures are created to keep your dog safe and secure. With a little training and a lot of love, your dog will show you how comfortable and happy he is in his new space.
Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform, and even transform its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.