CRATE TRAINING YOUR JACK RUSSELL TERRIER -- by Lynn Grimsley & Liz McKinney

    To all of you who may have doubts about crate training a terrier, PLEASE let us assure you it will save your sanity, your furniture, and make Jack Russell Terrier ownership more fun for you and your terrier.

    For those of you who have multiple terriers or dogs of any kind (i.e., more than one) you will find crates a blessing. Each dog gets ONLY his/her own food, you can leave your house without worrying about "what has he gotten into THIS time," and if you need some quiet time BY YOURSELF, you can have it. Now PLEASE, we are NOT advocating dogs LIVING in crates, but crate training is the best management tool a Jack Russell owner can have--both for you and for your JRT.

REASONS TO CRATE YOUR TERRIER:

Housebreaking: Using a crate is one of the fastest and least stressful methods of housebreaking available. It works on the theory of preventing accidents before they occur. In other words, you can use a crate to set your dog up to succeed not to fail.

Security & safety: We feed our terriers in crates ALWAYS, and sleep some of them in crates. Whenever anyone comes to the door, we put them ALL in crates because we have had a dog dart out the door and head for the road. Besides, it keeps all of the terriers back from the door, from jumping all over visitors and from fighting among themselves.

    Your dog will grow to see the crate as his special place, somewhere in the house that belongs only to him. It is invaluable for times when there is too much activity in a house such as holidays and when unruly children come to visit. You will notice that when your dog is tired and wants time alone he will go to his crate to sleep and get away from it all. Never allow any children or visitors to interfere or play with your dog when he is in his crate.

    Each of our terriers has his/her own crate. It's kind of like toothbrushes. You don't want someone else using your toothbrush. Well, if each terrier has his/her own crate, that crate becomes a special place, and as the terrier gets older, they really LOVE their own place. It is the ONE place in the house they don't have to share with the other terriers. And you'll be surprised to see each terrier outside his/her own crate waiting for the door to be opened. We have one little castrated male that was born with multiple birth defects. He gets very frightened if a lot of new people are coming and going, so he runs to his crate and asks me to open the door. Roman will run in his crate, pick up his chewy and curl up quietly in the back.

Time out for an overexcited terrier: Crates offer a place to safely give your dog a "time out". It is a safe place to put a dog that has become over excited and out of control. This will let the dog know he has gotten out of hand, break the pattern of over-stimulation and give him a break from whatever is causing the stimulation.

Safety while traveling: Crating while traveling is the easiest and safest way to transport your dog. If you are involved in accident the crate may well be the only thing that keeps your dog safely inside your car. Talk to your local rescue squad and they will tell you horrible tales of pets thrown about inside a wrecked vehicle--stories where the pets did not survive. They will also tell you about the many pets who DID survive and by far the vast majority of the survivors were housed in crates. Make sure your pet's crate is fastened into place with a seat belt or bunge cords. And even if the crate is thrown from the car the crate can prevent a panicked dog from running into traffic or just running blindly away from the strangers that gather around.

    If you are injured in an accident people are more likely to remove your dog to a safe location if it is in a crate that they can easily move and safely transport to another location.

CRATE TRAINING A PUPPY:

    To introduce a puppy to the crate for the first time, have a comfortable mat in the crate and toys for the puppy to chew on. Take your puppy up to the open crate door and show him a treat. We use the command, "kennel" to mean "please go into your crate." Whatever word you choose to use, use it every time you put your dog in the crate. Toss the treat in the back of the crate while suing your command and PRAISE the puppy for entering the crate to get his treat. Close the door and again tell the puppy what a good dog he is. Make your praise soothing. You want the puppy to be relaxed and quiet in his crate and not excited and stimulated.

    We have multiple Jack Russells in the house so life can be a zoo around here. We begin feeding puppies in crates at about 12 weeks of age and sometimes sooner. The first time or two they are sometimes stressed and therefore, won't eat. Don't spoil them by feeding them outside of a crate. Try it again in a couple of hours. Believe me, when they miss a meal or two they catch on really fast. By the third or fourth day, our puppies know feeding time means crate time and they jump in their respective crate. W also crate them when we don't have time to watch them every second if they are inside. Crating keeps them from chewing on the furniture and gets them housebroken a LOT faster. When we take them out of the crate, we CARRY them outside to potty. DO NOT EVER just let them run out on their own until they are 100% housebroken, because they will stop and pee before they get outside. They can't help it. Remember, they are puppies, infants really.

    When we are crate training a puppy, the schedule is a bit different than for an adult. We feed puppies about 5 PM and take them directly outside when they are finished eating to potty. Put them back in their crates for 30 minutes and take them outside again. Do the same thing 30 minutes later. Puppies do not have the bowel and bladder control of an adult so do not expect it. Make sure puppies have plenty of clean, fresh water throughout the day, but a couple of hours after they are fed at night, remove the water from the crate. It prevents accidents in the crate at night. The last thing we do before going to bed is to take the puppies outside for a last chance to potty. They ALWAYS go, if you aren't in a hurry. Give your puppy plenty of time to empty. It takes them a while to get their mind on their business, and ALWAYS remember to praise them when they go outside. The first thing in the morning, carry the puppy outside to the grass. We DO mean the very first thing. When a puppy hears you stirring around, he will immediately wake up and when he wakes up he HAS to go. The window is very narrow between the time a puppy wakes up and has to eliminate. So don't set your puppy up to fail. Get him outside immediately.

    Always start your puppy out in a crate at night and not in your bed. A puppy does not have the control to go all night without eliminating is he is stimulated. The crate will keep the puppy quiet and sleeping all night while being in the bed will excite the puppy and encourage accidents, bad habits and more laundry for you to wash.

    Crate training an adult dog is accomplished in much the same way as with a puppy. If you are not having to use the crate to housebreak the adult then you can make the crate introductions with the door left open. As the dog becomes comfortable with his crate and stays in for longer periods of time begin to close the door. If your are housebreaking the older dog then use the same process that you would use with a puppy. Always remember to keep the process a positive experience.

    When you bring your dog into your home you will have to decide what the rules will be and stick with them. Your puppy or adult will probably whine and cry the first few times he is crated because he would rather be with you than by himself and because he is adjusting to a new home situation. Giving a puppy a stuffed animal that they can lie on will sometimes help. Remember he is used to having littermates to pile on while sleeping. You cannot give in and take your puppy out of his crate because he cries or barks. Do not reward his whining with attention, they quickly learn this is what you will do and will soon refuse to crate quietly at all. If you know the puppy does not need to go outside to eliminate then just ignore him until he becomes quiet. Then praise him and let him out of the crate. If ignoring the noise doesn't stop it you might have to use a stern NO to settle the dog down. Sometimes even this is not enough and you can rap on the top of the crate to stop the tantrum. By the way, your pet will settle down and become much quieter if you are not in the same room.

TYPES AND SIZES OF CRATES:

    There are basically two different types of crates, each with its own merits. When people are talking about "airline crates" they are referring to the molded plastic type with holes on the sides for ventilation and a wire grid door. These crates are wonderful for shipping a terrier in and I love them for winter because they are warmer than the open, metal types. However, please remember that because they are more enclosed and, therefore, warmer in the winter, the plastic crates are a hot box in the summer with less than adequate airflow. They ARE easy to take apart and disinfect, but because they are made of plastic, a Jack Russell can often chew their way right through them.

    The second type of crate is the wire crate. We prefer the metal , fold down type crates. Some of these fold down like a suitcase with a handle and others fold down only with quite a bit of effort and size. If you aren't breaking down and setting up your crate often, it doesn't matter how easily a crate folds down. And although these crates are not as warm in the winter, a blanket over the top, sides and back solves this seasonal problem. What does matter is that you purchase the proper size, both for your vehicle (if you are hauling your terrier with you in a crate) and your terrier.

    A crate must be large enough for your terrier to easily stand up, turn around and lie down. For hauling our terriers to trials, we use a "General Cage #202." The dimensions are 17" wide, 24" long and 20" high. We are not pushing the General Cage brand crate because there are numerous good crates on the market. It just happens to be the size that (1) fits into our van, stacked and (2) is large enough for the terriers to ride comfortably. Anything smaller than that really cramps my terriers. If you have a very small Jack Russell, let's say under 12" tall, a smaller crate will suffice just fine for riding in your vehicle. It is, however, too small, in my opinion, to leave the terrier in for an extended period of time. For those of you who are terrier trial enthusiasts and whose terrier isn't going to stay in a crate except to ride in your vehicle, a smaller crate is manageable, provided you have exercise pens with tops to put your terrier in at the trial or have the time and inclination to do a lot of leash work to properly exercise your terrier.

    For daily use inside the house (now these crates are NEVER moved. They are just part of the decor.) we prefer a larger crate. We put a lot of time and thought into house crates and decided on Kennel Aire wire mesh crates with the dimensions 20"w by 30" long by 22" high. Now these crates are big enough for a terrier to comfortably live for several hours if we have to be gone from home. We bit the bullet and decided on the Kennel Aire because the wire is a 1" by 1" grid. Two terriers cannot fight between these crates and one terrier can never grab another one. The Kennel Aires have a cam locking mechanism on the door which just cannot be opened by even the most enterprising terrier. They also have been around longer than I have and have been proven to hold up for generations. Again, we are not advertising for Kennel Aire. Just sharing with you the reasons used for our purchases.

    Crates can be purchased from department stores, pet stores and pet supply catalogs. The prices are as varied as the types and qualities of the crates themselves. A new crate will cost anywhere from $40 to $150 depending on the type and size you select. However, if you are lucky and watch the classified ads and yard sales, you may be able to purchase a serviceable crate in excellent shape for a fraction of its retail cost. Regardless of the cost and how much money you intend to spend, the price is considerably cheaper than the cost to replace chewed furniture and ruined carpeting.

    Whatever type crate you decide to purchase should be placed in an area that is free of drafts and is not in the middle of a heavy traffic pattern. At the same time, dogs are social animals and the crate should not be put where the dog will feel totally isolated from the family. Put the crate in an area where the family spends a lot of quiet time and move it to your bedroom at night unless you have a second crated dog that can keep him company. This way you will be able to comfort him at night and hear if he needs to go out.

Accessories for the crate: We also always keep bolt on 20 ounce coop cups in the crates for water. Anything smaller just doesn't hold enough water (you can't fill it to the top) and anything larger takes up too much room in the crate. Don't waste your money on the type of coop cups that hangs on the side of a crate wall. A bored adult or puppy will dump them every time, resulting in a wet crate bottom and a frustrated owner. An adult terrier must have access to fresh water on an ongoing basis so it is a good idea to provide a coop cup for your pet.

    Another thing we do is to always provide crate mats for our terriers. We use a rubber backed bath mat..the cheap kind you can purchase from a discount store on the bottom of the metal pan. The rubber backing keeps the mat in place and keeps it from sliding all over the crate. We then put a couple of fleece mats on top of the bath mat. If you want something substantially thicker and cushy, you can purchase egg crate foam, cut it the size of your crate, and zip together a washable cover in very little time. An old pillow case makes a wonderful, washable cover and especially if you take the time to sew a strip of Velcro, about 8 inches long, on the pillow case to protect the foam underneath. DO NOT, I repeat, do NOT use bed pillows. you may be one of the lucky ones whose Jack Russell is not destructive when bored, but I have come home more than once to kapok stuffing all over my house. Remember to wash your crate mats/covers at least once a week (I wash mine twice a week). No matter how clean you keep your terrier, crate mats tend to develop an odor all their own.

    A couple of additional comments: DO NOT EVER leave a collar on a dog in a crate. It is a good way to injure or choke your terrier. We have a dear friend who lost her Jack Russell when she left the terrier's collar on and her pet choked to death. So don't take the chance. Another really important one is NEVER give your pet rawhide chews unless you are right there. Do not ever give them a chewy and walk out for the day and leave. A friend of ours terrier got a rawhide lodged in his throat and almost choked to death. She had to call 911 (this is true folks) and the rescue people had to use a long hemostat to dislodge the rawhide from the terrier's throat. The same goes for chew hooves, pig's ears, pieces of latex or vinyl toys that can be swallowed. A dog can choke to death within 20 minutes.

Safe toys for the crate: Kongs, Nylabones, chew ropes, and stuffed toys with no loose parts to be pulled off. Kongs and Nylabones are made from hard durable materials that are almost impossible for your dog to destroy. They offer hours of chewing to help eliminate boredom and provide exercise for teeth and gums. Kongs have a hole in the end that can be used to put small amounts of peanut butter or dog biscuits inside to provide a challenge for the dog.

CRATING DOS AND DONTS:

  • Always view the crate as a positive tool. Your dog will pick up on this and view it the same way.

  • Always let your dog out when it whines because it needs to go outside to eliminate. If you are sure it doesn't need to go out then correct the dog for whining.

  • Never leave a collar on a dog while they are crated. There is always a danger of the collar getting caught and the dog suffocating.

  • Always exercise your dog well before and after crating and allow plenty of freedom and interaction with the family several times a day.

  • Clean your dog's crate and bedding regularly. Replace any blankets or toys that become worn or unsafe.

  • Never punish a dog for soiling it's crate. The dog will probably already be miserable and rarely will the soiling have been intentional.

  • Even after your dog is fully house trained and trustworthy make sure he stays accustomed to the crate. Occasional time spent in a crate will make traveling with your dog and special situations requiring crating much easier.
AND FINALLY:

    Crate training allows your dog to quickly learn the rules of your household and smoothly become an enjoyable part of the family. It helps to avoid problem behaviors and keeps your dog from experiencing the fear and confusion it feels when facing your reactions to his problem behaviors. Crating also allows your dog to be included in many family outings and safely go along on vacations.

    Always be careful that your dog has plenty of time being a part of your family. If you find that your dog is spending most of their time in a crate with little time spent out playing with and being a part of the family unit, then perhaps you should rethink the decision that a dog will fit into your lifestyle.

    Good luck with your Jack Russell Terrier. Remember, these little guys are intelligent and full of energy. Protect them from themselves. It is up to you to keep them out of trouble so you can enjoy them and they can enjoy you!


TERRIERS | EARTH WORK | LIBRARY | FB TODAY | FOR SALE | CONTACT | NOFRAMES