Crate will keep your puppy or dog safe when you can't be watching them.
The Crate acts as a babysitter for your dog.
It keeps your dog from getting into or eating things that may be harmful to him/her, and it also keeps your house safe from things he/she may get into or destroy.
Teaches your dog manners and how to act as he/she starts to earn freedoms.
In the wild dogs/wolves naturally look for and like to have a den, this is the way your dog views his crate.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF CRATES:
Soft Crate: These are easily collapsible and easy to take with you. Many small dogs do well in these crates as well as mellow or older dogs. If your dog has any tendency to chew or be frustrated I do not recommend these crates. These crates are generally not the best for most puppies. Although, I will take these crates with me for camping trips, car rides and times when I need the dog confined but I am still in the area or within eye sight of the dog.
Wire Crate: Most wire crates are easy to fold down. Most have a door on one side some have doors on 2 sides which can be convenient, the wire crates also come with a plastic tray for the bottom. Wire crates work well for most dogs. I recommend the "Precisions" Brand wire crates; the plastic in the bottom of those crates is a little tougher and more durable plastic than "Midwest" or "Lifestages".
Plastic Crate: These crates take up a little more room and are not as compact to take down or travel with. That being said, these crates are very durable and tend to contain the tougher of dogs. Over the years I have had a few rescue shepherds that have escaped or broken out of wire crates but the plastic crates worked great!
Aluminum Crate: These you should never need for a pet dog. If you compete in dog sports, or have a dog with very high drive sometimes these crates are necessary. Many Police and military use these crates for their dogs.
WHAT SIZE CRATE IS BEST FOR MY DOG?
Make sure that it is just big enough for your dog to lay down, turn around and stand up comfortably.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Is it a puppy? Are we still working on housebreaking? - If so I make the crate a little bit smaller just to make sure the puppy doesn't have room to lie down on one end and can still potty in the other.
How long is your dog or pup going to be alone in the crate? If it is for a longer period of time towards 8hours - i get them a slightly bigger crate with more room.
INTRODUCING THE CRATE
Bring the crate into the house. It does not have to stay in one room. You can have it in the living room during the day and in your bedroom at night if you wish.
Make sure to put a blanket, dog bed or something soft and comfortable in the crate.
Let your dog sniff and check it out on their own. While you are home toss some treats every so often into the crate or their favorite toy to encourage them to go in on their own. at this time DO NOT shut the door when they go in. (Allow them to do this, checking it out and getting good things from the crate for at least one whole day). I recommend feeding them in the crate, again I don't shut the door, I just put their food in the crate. This helps the crate become a positive thing to the dog/puppy.
1st time putting the dog in and closing the door: Guide the dog into the crate, at this time DO NOT put food in first. When the dog is in the crate give them a treat, and make sure that the dog has something to do in their crate. (Nylabone to chew on, Kong filled with Peanut Butter etc.) Stand by the dogs crate, do not talk to the dog, ignore any whinning, and try not to make eye contact with the dog. Wait 1 whole minute and let the dog out. Practice this gradually increasing the amount of time with you in the room, then start practicing for short periods of time with you leaving the room.
Over the next week, start putting the dog in their crate for 1,2,5,10,15minutes up to an hour or two. Build up slowly over the week.
While your dog is still getting used to his/her crate when you are home and the crate door is open toss treats in for your dog, to encourage it being a positive place.
HOW LONG CAN I LEAVE MY DOG IN THE CRATE?
This answer depends on your dogs age and where they are at on housebreaking and how long they can physically hold their bladders.
If you have to leave your dog for long hours in the crate. Make sure to thoroughly exercise your dog first, and have given them enough time to process their meal and go potty before crating them. If you have a puppy i do not recommend leaving water in the crate with the puppy. Older dogs that have more control of their bladders can drink some water in their crates and not make messes.
If you have a puppy and work 8-10hours a day, I recommend that you hire a dog walker to come in and let your dog out sometime mid-day if you are not able to come home for lunch.
WHEN CAN I STOP USING THE CRATE?
Some people like to use it forever, but it's not necessary.
I use it with puppies and rescue dogs until they have learned manners in the house and I can trust them.
Once a dog is crate trained and they are starting to mature a little I may give them more freedom. I may let the dog have run of the bathroom or kitchen, but again I leave them with toys and a bed. Ideally and what I have found with the dogs I've had, is that while you crate train your dogs they learn good habits when you are gone (chewing on their toy, and sleeping) and this is all they know, so as you start to slowly give them freedoms to the house they keep the habits they learned in their crate and are better behaved and alot less destructive when you are gone.
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS OF CRATE TRAINING
Friends and Family or more willing to watch your pet at their house when you are out of town or have a family emergency because your dog can be in a crate comfortably. If your dog is used to his/her crate dogs generally don't mind where they are crated as long as they can be in their crate.
Crating dogs in the car - gives them a better chance of surviving an accident and makes it alot less likely that they cause the accident, by running about the car or jumping into the front seat.
Inns and Motels are more open to accepting dogs if you promise to crate the dog when you leave the room, and in a strange place your dog is comfortable in his/her crate