6 Steps For Teaching Your Dog To Love Their Crate

6 Steps For Teaching Your Dog To Love Their Crate


Teaching your dog to love their crate should be a top priority for any new pet parent. Dogs are den animals, and enjoy small spaces where they can hide when they feel unsafe, or rest at nap time. It’s a safe space in your home that your dog considers his own. Crate training is easy to do and shouldn’t be something that makes you feel guilty or as if you’re subjecting your dog to “doggy jail”.

Understandably, some owners are firmly anti-crate, and that’s fine. You should never use the kennel as a “time out” space. And it is most definitely not a “cage” where your dog is confined for long periods of time. If your rescue dog’s past owner used the crate in a negative way, he may have an aversion to it. Perhaps a crate isn’t for him, but most dogs appreciate having their own space where they can relax.

Getting your dog to love their crate is going to take time. But with patience, your dog will see it as a home of their own.

 1. Choosing The Right Crate

You might prefer a spacious room, but your dog only needs so much to love their crate. He should have enough room to lie down and stand comfortably. It should also be wide enough for him to turn around in a circle. Too much room gives your dog space to “go” in one spot and distance himself from it. You definitely don’t want to train him to use it as a bathroom. If you’re crate training, you may want to choose a crate with a tray that slides out, because accidents happen. You can give a housebroken dog more space, but it’s not necessary. A comfortable “den” doesn’t require much room.

 2. Location

You wouldn’t want to sleep on the floor in the kitchen no matter how comfortable it is, right? The crate is a place for rest, so pick a spot away from the hustle-and-bustle in your home. The laundry room might seem like a good idea, but noisy appliances can interrupt sleep or worse, trigger anxiety.

Consider sharing a bedroom with your dog. Not only will you provide a quiet, calm space for his crate, but he gets the added feeling of security of being close to his favorite person. It’ll give your dog another reason to love their crate!

 3. Furnishing

No dog is going to love their crate when they feel cold plastic on their paws or worse, metal wire. Dogs prefer soft, firm spaces to rest. You may see your dog laying on your hardwood or kitchen tile, but it’s more likely for the coolness than the comfort. Providing a soft resting area can also help relieve pain in joints and keep elbow calluses from forming. Consider PACK&DEN beds for the best in support and comfort for dogs.

Some people provide a soft pillow or cushion, others will put a bed in. Eventually your dogs may carry in things on their own as they learn to love their crate. They’ll leave favorite toys and blankets in their “den.” Some dogs may even “bury” their treats in their bedding! You can help him love it more by putting some of his favorite things in for him. But don’t be surprised if they carry them right back out before they love their crate.


Now that you know you have the right size crate and it’s cozy in a nice, quiet spot, it’s time to get your dog in.

 4. Prime the Crate

Remember that the crate is a nice, calm place. So if your dog isn’t ready to get in, absolutely do not force him. Set a few treats inside. Let him walk past. Sniff. Be positive about any interaction he has with it. If you’re happy about it, your dog will love their crate in no time. If he only goes in far enough to reach the treats, start putting them back further so he has to go in a bit more. Eventually, he should become comfortable putting all four paws inside.

When he does go all the way in, reward him – use treats, praise, or both.

 5. Feeding In The Crate

Now that the crate is a happy place he feels comfortable in, begin feeding your dog there. While he’s eating, close the door and latch it. After he’s done eating, leave the door closed for just a few seconds before opening it – but never open it while your dog is whining. The idea is to help your dog love their crate, not teach him that whining opens the door.

After meals, or any time you see your dog in his crate and you’re able to close the door, leave it closed for a bit longer, adding a few seconds until you work up to a minute. Gradually begin putting some distance between yourself and the crate while he’s there. If walking away makes your dog upset, placing a toy he loves in before shutting the door may help distract him.

 6. Work Up To Longer Intervals

The goal is to be able to leave the room for ten to fifteen minutes at a time without your dog going nuts. Teaching a “crate” or “kennel” cue will help get him in a few times a day to practice staying in several minutes at a time, until you can leave him calmly in his crate for 30 minutes. When he reaches the 30 minute mark without you in the room, you can feel confident leaving him is his kennel while you leave the house for a short period of time.

The process takes time, but it’s absolutely worth it. A crate may be convenient for you, but you’re really giving your dog a room of his own where he can go when stressed or scared. When used and introduced correctly, your dog will love their crate and consider it a haven.

Dos and Don’ts

NEVER use your dog’s crate as a punishment and do not keep him there for long periods of time. Your dog will not love their crate if you make them spend all their time there. Dogs were not meant to live in cages.

Provide water and entertainment, like toys, television or radio while you’re out. We do not recommend giving your dog chews or any toys he would put into his mouth while left unattended. This puzzle toy from Amazon has no removable parts and will exercise your pup’s mind while he’s in his kennel. He’ll earn treats throughout the day as he figures it out! Teach him how to work the puzzle while you’re home so he enjoys it more on his own.

Be sure to start with small periods of time – a dog who does not want to be in their crate can injure themselves trying to get out of it. Working up the amount of time will keep them from causing themselves harm and help them love their crate gradually.

Remember that young puppies and older dogs will need to “go” more often than adult dogs. A dog should not be asked to “hold it” for longer than an hour for each month they are old, and past that, no dog should wait longer than 8 hours to pee.

If possible, do not crate your dog if you know you’ll be out of the house longer than 5 hours. Consider a dog sitter or daycare.

If your dog deserves a swanky crate like the ones in the photos, check out @rusticchickennels and @bbkustomkennels on Instagram! If you’re more DIY, see DIY Dog House Ideas For Crafty (And Not-So-Crafty) Dog Lovers.


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Shelter Gets Crazy and Creative To Get Pets Adopted

Shelter Gets Crazy and Creative To Get Pets Adopted


Every year over 7 million pets find themselves in shelters in the U.S. Shelter staff are tasked with finding each and every adoptable pet a home, and some are coming up with clever ways to get the job done!

Many shelters use social media to spread pictures and videos, but West Memphis Animal Shelter has taken a wild, crazy, incredibly creative route in getting the word out about their adoptable pets! Adoption and Rescue Coordinator Trent Stacey is making sure that the videos he puts out on the WMAS Facebook page are getting viewed, getting shared, and getting pets out of the shelter!

Trent’s approach puts an eye-catching spin on the videos usually shared by a shelter! His antics earn several views for every pup or kitty who is featured! Trent tells iHeartDogs,

“I try to make them as silly and crazy and attention-grabbing as we can, and I think we usually accomplish that.”

It’s not unusual at the West Memphis Animal Shelter to see Trent dressed as a shark, or witch, or “Trent Ga-Ga” and snuggling up with a pooch or two! The idea for these outrageous videos came from shelter volunteer Christy Carter, who suggested that Trent try costumes to draw more attention to the shelter pets.

“She just started going crazy buying every kind of dog costume, and then all of a sudden she said ‘Instead of just dressing up the dogs, I want you to start wearing stuff!’

“Of course, I have no shame, and I am really never embarrassed. So, I said, ‘You give me anything and pick out whatever you want me to wear. I’ll wear anything!’ She’s coming up with some crazy ideas!”

Kerry Facello, the shelter’s director, provides ideas and storylines, and volunteer Christy brings along costumes and holiday-related themes! Their creative minds and Trent’s willingness to help his homeless pals has put him in some interesting clothes and situations, but they’ll tell you it’s worth it to find these pets homes.

“Usually every animal leaves. We get a lot of views and a lot of shares and it does really seem to get the animals out of here faster. People will call and say, ‘I saw this dog on this video with Trent in a shark costume.’ It has helped a lot.

“James Bond just recently did a shark week video. He was adopted because of that video. The woman who adopted him was a shark week fan and was just obsessed with him. His adoption was finalized today, actually. A lot of the dogs get pulled by rescues – the videos are shared all over.

“We do a ton of dog and cat sad videos trying to get them out. But people after a while will say ‘Can you please do another costume video? You haven’t done any in a week!’”

Each featured animal gets a lot of attention from rescues, potential homes, and some will get several applications to adopt. It’s Trent’s love for animals that has him doing backflips in crazy costumes to get them noticed.

“I started doing animal rescue in 2002. I did hair for 20 years until I decided that animals had always been my passion. I’ve been involved in rescue for about 16 years. I’ve rescued dogs and cats, to llamas and pot-bellied pigs, and you name it! I even have a pigeon in my office with a broken wing named after me – T.J., Trent Jr. I’ve rescued a lot of things but I just really love rescuing dogs and cats. That’s my real passion.”

These videos and the other good work done by shelter staff are earning a lot of attention. The shelter’s Facebook page has over 33,000 followers – the city of West Memphis has a population of about 26,000. To compare, another shelter in a city of over 2 million has only 36,000 followers – but they don’t have a Trent. The attention is making a difference for these pets.

“I would do pretty much anything to save a dog or cat’s life.”

Follow West Memphis Animal Shelter on Facebook to see more videos as they’re posted!

Featured Photo: West Memphis Animal Shelter/Facebook


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How long does it take Dog to Digest Food?

How long does it take Dog to Digest Food?

Well, Mostly dog owners don’t spend a lot of time on thinking about their own digestive processes, much less those of their dogs. The only times we really engage with dog digestion are when we feed our dogs and when we trot them out to eliminate their waste. But what happens to a dog’s kibble or canned food from the time it enters their gaping maws to when it passes out the other end? How long does it take for a dog to digest food? If you were to hazard a guess, you could probably name the major stops along the route.

Food enters through the mouth and slides down the esophagus on its way to the stomach. From there, it takes in the sights of the small and large intestines before departing the body. If that seems too simple, it is! Dog digestion involves a staggering number of organs, fluids, and enzymes, all playing their roles to convert food into usable energy. Whatever is left, as surplus to requirements, is expelled through the anus in the form of fece.

Let’s take a closer look at these processes and answer the following questions along the way:

  • What are the major components of the dog digestive system?
    1. From mouth to stomach
    2. A fantastic journey through the small intestine
    3. The large intestine and waste removal
  • Assorted questions about the dog digestive system:
    1. Where does digestion actually take place?
    2. How long does food stay in the stomach?
    3. How long does it take for a dog to digest food?

Basics of the canine digestive system

Part 1: From mouth to stomach

The front end of a dog’s digestive system encompasses the mouth, esophagus, stomach and small intestine. Dog digestion begins almost immediately with saliva in the mouth. You may have wondered why dog tongues are so slobbery. Since they spend less time chewing food than humans tend to, all of that saliva kick starts the process of breaking down and coating food particles for smoother passage through the esophagus. The esophagus is heavily muscle, actively pushing food into the stomach.

Part 2: A fantastic journey through the small intestine

A dog’s stomach is a super-acidic environment, which is useful for opportunistic omnivores, helping them more easily digest things like bone and raw meat. Yes! Dogs can digest bones! Here, solid food is render into a substance called chyme, which is made up of food, water, and acid. All food — from your Michelin 3-star-rated fine cuisine, to your dog’s canned chunks or dry kibble — ends up as this highly acidic glop. As this chyme proceeds into the small intestine, the real work of digestion — the isolation of nutrients that can be used by the body— is done.

There are three parts of food’s journey through the small intestine. In the first part, the duodenum, chyme is treated with enzymes and hormones from the liver and pancreas, which reduce the acid level of the chyme. The glop is now prepared to have the rest of its nutrients extracted and absorbed. This happens in the second part of the small intestine, which is called the jejunum. This part of a dog’s small intestine is basically covered in little probes, which, like fly paper, pick up and absorb useful nutrients into the bloodstream.

Part 3: The large intestine and waste removal

The final part of the small intestine is the ileum, which absorbs whatever nutrients remain. By this point, the once-acidic chyme gloop is now a sort of thicker pasty substance. You will be surprised how little of the food you or your dog eats is actually use by your body. Did you ever wonder why your dog’s digestive system produces so much poop? It’s because the actual nutrients — proteins, vitamins, fats and so on — that your dog’s body can utilize are minuscule in proportion to the physical volume of most dog food.

How long is this part of a dog’s digestive system? It varies by size. If you stretched out a dog’s small intestine, it would be nearly three times as long as the dog. The back end of a dog’s GI tract is fairly short by comparison, just over a foot long, give or take, depending on the dog. Its primary components are the large intestine and the anus. The large intestine is basically a water remover and garbage compactor. Having spent the first half of its journey being mashed up, dissolved and sifted, any parts of a dog’s meal that cannot be used is treated by bacteria, and reconstituted into a solid package we call poop.


Assorted questions about dog digestion!

Read:  10 Facts About Dogs You May Not Know

How long does food stay in a dog’s stomach?

Though dogs are omnivores, they are opportunistic ones. That means that while they can eat almost anything, their digestive systems can’t break down and utilize everything. Animals like humans or cows, to name two, have GI tracts made to process plant matter. As a result, their intestines are much longer and more drawn out than those of dogs. Since cows depend on vegetable matter, they even get extra compartments in their stomach, and can regurgitate food to chew and digest it fully.

A dog’s digestive system, depending more on meat proteins, is much more efficient. Depending on its digestibility, food can stay in a dog’s stomach much longer than either a human or a cow. If the meal is not strictly meat, comprising a variety of vegetable, grains and proteins, it will have vacated the stomach completely in 12 hours after eating. Compare that to four to five hours in a normal adult human.

Where does digestion actually take place?

As you may have gleaned from tracing food’s intricate journey from the food bowl in your kitchen to the poop bag in the dog park, the multiple processes of canine digestion means that it does not happen in one spot. From the moment comestibles come in contact with teeth and saliva in the mouth, digestion is happening.

A dog’s digestive system is just that: a system, and digestion takes place at every point along the course. Food is disassemble in a variety of ways, physically and nutritionally, from the mouth to the stomach. The majority of its conversion into absorb able nutrients happens in the small intestine, and digestion is only complete when your dog assumes the familiar position for excreting waste.

How long does it take for a dog to digest food?

Unfortunately, there’s no set answer! So many variables are involved, that even in a perfectly healthy dog, the time to digest a single meal can be dramatically different. Does your dog drink enough water? That has an effect on digestion time as well. Large dog breeds take significantly longer to digest food than small ones.

Is your dog sedentary, spending most of the day on the couch? Does the dog get a couple of walks a day? Exercise has a definite impact on motility. Or the way that the muscles of the digestive system propel food through the process. Total time from entry to exit depends on a wide range of factors, from the size of the dog to the quality of the food. Wet food takes less time to digest than dry kibble. Speaking very broadly, operating at optimum efficiency, a dog can process a can of wet food in as few as four hours, while the same amount of dry food can take eight hours to make the same journey!