1. Why Would We Want To Crate Our Adorable Mastiff?
Many confuse dog crates with dog cages. It’s understandable why some get confused, but it’s important to know that dog crates are nowhere near to what dog cages are. While dog cages are meant to control our pet dogs’ behaviors and restrict their access to other places in the house, dog crates are personal spaces where our dogs can feel most comfortable and at home. The idea of dog crates is similar to how we dog owners have our own respective rooms and beds at home. Training our dogs in getting used to their crates may be seen by some dog owners as cruel. Those who choose not to crate train their dogs may see dog crates as a form of punishment, when crates should never be used for punishment. Being able to train our dogs to love their crates is helpful for owners who travel with dogs, owners who potty train dogs, and owners who have to leave their dogs home alone from time to time. Dog crates are a very versatile piece of furniture that can ease our dogs’ anxieties by giving them their own haven.
1. Potty Training
The most popular use of crates is in training dogs to behave indoors and training them to go outdoors for potty time. Introducing crates to our dogs is the fastest and most effective way to teach our dogs where to go for peeing and pooping. To do this, dog owners can feed dogs and bring them outside of the house. After their potty time, they should be placed in their crates so they will learn that rest and relaxation inside the crate comes after peeing and pooping in a corner on the yard.
Every dog owner who loves to travel knows that it’s burdensome to bring dogs along. Airlines and customs do not allow dogs to travel on the laps of their owners or on the seats beside them. Whether traveling in-cabin or as cargo, dogs that travel with their owners by air should be kept in airline-approved crates. This is tricky when it comes to big dogs like Mastiffs because airlines have very strict size requirements, and too big or too small crates can injure our dogs. This is why crate training dogs is the best and easiest alternative. Crates bring a sense of familiarity to dogs wherever they go. They may be taken in different places through various modes of transportation, but the familiarity of the smell and overall feel of their crates give comfort to dogs and make them less anxious.
Some owners don’t travel with their pets, leaving them with the dog sitters. There are also dogs who get upset when their owners leave them even for just an hour or few to run errands. Dog crates can minimize the separation anxiety and stress in these dogs because their respective crates function as their tangible comfort zone.
When dog owners have to go to school or work, leaving their pets to family members who can’t supervise them as strictly as we can, it’s best to leave them in the comfort of their crates. Curious dogs will often find a way to get out of our houses and run to the end of the world. Teething dogs, or even ones who just really misbehave from time to time, will munch on our pillows and wooden chairs. These can put our dogs’ health and safety at risk, and would benefit from having a crate that is large enough to have some of their favorite toys to play with. How comfortable dogs are in their crates also affect the ease of raising them.
2. Choosing The Right Dog Crate
Dog crates come in various sizes and styles that are suited to the needs of our dogs. Selecting dog crate sizes for our puppy Mastiff may affect our crate training process and our puppy’s growth. A crate will almost never feel too small for a puppy Mastiff, but a full-grown one will surely be uncomfortable and adamant in entering the small crate again. Beyond the behavioral implications of a too small crate, it’s just plain cruel to force our Mastiff to stay in one as this can stunt its growth.
The guideline for getting a crate for dogs is that it should be twice their length from head to tail. The crate’s height, length, and width should be twice the dog’s length. A full-grown Mastiff is 36 inches or 91 centimeters long from head to tail. Its crate should then be a 72 by 72 inches or 182 by 182 centimeters cube. The size of this crate can surely allow our Mastiff to comfortably move, turn, and stretch with ease. More importantly, this will allow our Mastiff to reach its full healthy size by its 4th birthday.
Crates made of stainless steel bars and frames with high density plastic flooring to prevent paws from sliding out of the floor gaps are the most ideal crates for Mastiffs. Dogs from this breed grow strong, heavy, and active, requiring their crates to be sturdier than average. These cages are easier to clean with soap and water, and will last our Mastiffs a lifetime with proper use.
3. Crate Training Puppies
With the extensive uses of crates, many dog owners invest in durable ones that will last their pets a lifetime. Some even get a couple of dog crates, one for their home and another for travelling, just for 1 dog. However, not all dogs are crate trained. The best and most durable crates are useless if our dogs refuse to use them; it is therefore important to know how to effectively crate train them.
The first and most important crate to train our dogs to find comfort in is the one we’ll keep in our homes. For dog owners who don’t travel with their dogs, this is the only crate you’ll ever need. Our dogs’ own dog crates will help them learn how to better behave indoors. Their crates will teach them when and where to go for potty time, and when and where to go for rest and sleep. The speed of being able to crate train our dogs vary depending on their age, temperament and breed. Some dogs only take days to learn to use and appreciate their crates while some take weeks. Puppy Mastiffs are relatively easy to train because they’re young, and don’t have sour experiences with being contained too long. Mastiffs are very smart, but the key in successfully crate training them is to do it during the early parts of their puppyhood as untrained grown up ones can be stubborn. Even after successfully crate training them, their crates should also only be associated with positive feelings and reward. These are the steps in crate training our Mastiffs:
Step 1: Introducing Our Mastiff Puppy's To Their Crates
The floor of the crate should be soft, warm, and comfortable; for this, we can put a thick blanket, towel, or a dog bed that covers the entire floor area. We should put the crate in the section of our house where the family spends most of their time. We then carry our puppy Mastiff by the crate while soothing it with our happy and gentle voices. We can even sing to our puppy while encouraging it to enter. Tossing its toy in may make our puppy want to go in its new crate. Putting a trail of treats that leads to the center of the dog crate can also help. If our puppy refuses to enter on our first try, we can just keep on leading it in by putting treats inside the crate. This step may take minutes or even days, but we have to understand that changes in their environment scare and confuse dogs, especially puppies.
Step 2: Turning The Crate Into Our Mastiff Puppy's Dining Area
A foolproof way of letting our puppy Mastiff associate positive emotions with the crate is to put its food bowl by the entrance. As days go by, we can gradually put down the dog bowl further back in the crate. It’s important to do this gradually, only moving the bowl a centimeter for every meal of our puppy. Time will come when our puppy can eat its meal with the food bowl touching the innermost corner of the crate.
After our puppy Mastiff gets comfortable with its new dining area, we can start closing the door to the crate while it's eating, and then opening it right after. It’s important to let it out so our puppy knows that the crate is not for potty time. As days go by we can leave the door closed for a few minutes after it finishes eating, starting with 5 minutes and adding a minute more for every meal. After about 6 meals, our puppy should be able to stay for 10 minutes in its crate after eating. This will allow our puppy to associate feeding time with its crate. It will also learn that staying in the crate is not so bad because they will be let out soon after eating. If our puppy begs to be let out by whining and crying, we should let them out and more slowly repeat the process of closing the door and incrementally increasing the time they spend inside. This will prevent them from associating whining with being let out.
Step 3: Extended Crate Time
Once our puppy Mastiff learns to stay in its crate without whining or crying every after meal, we can start training it to be in the crate and rest in it. We can train our puppy to enter its crate by command by giving it a cue word or phrase like, “in!” or “crate time!” in our sweetest possible tone, with a matching pointing gesture to the crate. After it enters the crate, we can give it a treat and a belly rub for a job well done before closing the door. We can go about our regular activity in the same room for a couple of minutes like washing the dishes or sweeping our room clean, leave the room for a couple more minutes, and come back to let it out. This will assure our puppy that even if we’re doing chores or enjoying ourselves, it’s going to be let out of its crate after. Repetition of this process while gradually increasing the length of time we’re out of its sight will prepare it for when we actually need to do chores or run errands in peace.
When our puppy Mastiff starts showing calm and comfort in its crate for about half an hour without seeing us, we can begin leaving it in the crate for extended periods of time. We should be careful not to crate our puppy for more than an hour at a time though, as this will make it feel trapped and lonely. Effectively training our puppy Mastiff to stay in the crate for extended periods may take several weeks and tries.