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Crating your Kangal Dog

March 4, 2016

Let me state from the outset:  You absolutely need to have a Kangal-sized crate, and you need to train your dog to LOVE the crate. Have it ready before you get your puppy or dog, and use it daily until your dog thinks the crate is awesome. I am too lazy to set up my crate right now and bring in my own Kangal, but trust me: She's OK with the crate, as she's been trained to it from puppyhood.



I'm using the female pronoun for this article because English forces us to choose, but of course this is about both genders, and all dogs, actually.  And since I am a dog trainer and happen to have some video of crate training with a Rat Terrier, I will use that to illustrate. But I can assure you: my Banu Kangal knows how to do the same thing. With slightly less drive. :)


But why?  


First, crate training is the most effective and humane way to train your puppy not to soil inside your house. If you confine your puppy when you are not watching her, and take her immediately outside to potty before she gets time to play indoors--you will prevent accidents. And your puppy will learn that going potty outside is 'normal' and doing so inside will seem 'not normal.' Second, a crate is very helpful in teaching your puppy impulse control, how to not dash through gates and doors without permission. See my blog article Crate, Gate, and Door Manners


Don't plan to have your working Kangal in the house much? You still need to crate train. Whether you have a working dog, a family companion, or a small-farm part-time working Kangal that fulfills both jobs--there will be times when you will want or need to crate your dog. You will need to crate your dog to transport her safely if you don't have a divider in your vehicle. Maybe your dog lives in the house but you prefer her to be confined at night--to minimize window-watching, barking, or just to keep the hair-level down during shedding season. Maybe you just need to have her occasionally in a crate while guests are visiting for a holiday dinner, or you have a visitor who is afraid of dogs. Maybe you don't feel any need to crate your dog--but the time will come when you WILL need to. For an injury/convalescence, an overnight at the vet clinic, whatever. And that is NOT the time when you want her to be freaked about being in a crate. Dogs of any breed that are not crate trained can rip out their own teeth trying to escape a crate if they are not used to it.


So please, PLEASE, condition your dog to a crate and ensure that it's not a stressful experience. The crate should be a den, a place of comfort, a place where food and chew toys happen, where your dog can relax and be excused from the noise and chaos of her surroundings. This is not a difficult proposition and you will be so happy for the next dozen years that your dog is crate trained!


Getting started


1. Start from the day you get your puppy! Feed your puppy all her meals in the crate. Close the door. Open it only when she is quiet and relaxed. Do not let her out if she is whining or screaming. This is a rare problem with Kangals, but if it happens, be sure to let her out only if she's been quiet for a minute or two at least. Give her a big rawhide or chew toy if necessary.You do not want to reinforce whining or demanding behavior.

2. Put a blanket or mat in the crate, and hide a treat or a few kibbles in there one or more times a day for her to discover. This will help her be really happy about walking into the crate and finding something that makes her feel good. Leave the door open and let her go in and out as she wishes. You will likely find that she will start using the crate to take naps and escape from the hub-bub of the house or barn.

3. If you want to crate her overnight, and she objects, go to Goodwill or something for a big heavy quilt or blanket that will completely cover the crate. Muffling sights and sounds will help her relax. If you find she is grabbing the quilt and pulling it into the crate and chewing it, then put a large board on top of the crate, a couple of inches larger than the surface, and she will not be able to grab the cover.


What crate should I get?


It depends on whether you plan to use your crate often or only for nighttime and the occasional daytime hour or two. And I hope it's the latter. If you need to confine your dog regularly (for example, at mealtimes for a family pet), consider a tall, sturdy baby gate in the laundry room or other area IN ADDITION TO a crate--but you still need to crate train every dog.

A super-giant crate made for a Great Dane takes up a lot of space. If you have the space for a dedicated Super crate, or if you plan to use the crate a lot, then look at something like this. 54L x 37W x 45H Inches


Most Kangal Dogs are 28-33" at the shoulder (not 36-38" like a Dane). When they are sitting, of course, their heads will be considerably taller than that. For short-term confinement, of for sleeping at night, crates that are 48" long will suffice. They are generally 33" tall. That means your dog will have to "hunker" while sitting, but can lie down comfortably. Just don't ask your poor dog to spend the whole day in there while you are at work. That would be painful. But for sleeping, or for an hour or three while guest are present, this is fine. And it's all I have ever personally needed. But then... I also have my laundry room with a 4-ft baby gate. Which I would also recommend.


For a one-size-fits-all solution for your new puppy, get a full-sized 48" long wire crate that comes with a divider. Go for the heavier, larger-gauge wire for durability. Then you can limit your puppy's space as she grows, and prevent the back of a large crate from becoming the potty area. And by the way, you want to avoid "teaching" your dog to potty in the crate at all costs! Which can happen if you keep her in there too long and she is forced to soil the crate. Plus, of course, that's just uncool. So make sure puppy gets out often and take her directly outdoors to potty. 


Be sure to get a two-door crate, which offers versatility in terms of which corner of which room you will place it. Look on Amazon for inexpensive solutions. I like Midwest crates, personally--especially the heavier-gauge ones. 


Other benefits of crate training


It's just plain a good idea to have your dog, of any breed, be comfortable spending time in a crate and considering it to be a comfy space. Some of us make use of it often, some infrequently, but it's so nice when it is not a trauma.. But there are other benefits!


You can use a crate to teach your dog the concepts of "Get in" and "Get out"--which will be easy to generalize to doors, gates, cars etc..


You can use a crate to teach your dog to relax and wait for a release command, "OK!", to exit the crate. All you have to do teach Sit, and then teach "Wait" as you reach for the latch-- be ready to shut the door immediately if the dog moves. Progress in steps to being able to open the door all the way, and she only comes out when you say OK. This awesome behavior is easily taught to your Kangal, and can be generalized to doors, gates, cars, etc.


Your dog will learn some impulse control: calm yourself down, and you can then come out.


You can teach your dog to Sit and Down while in a crate--very useful for general training and impulse control. 


Oh, and BTW... wire crates are the way to go for crating in the house or barn. Plastic airline crates are good for transport, by car or air, but not good for training. You want to be able to see your dog, and to deliver treat rewards from above or at the door, or at the back of the crate. Can't do that with a plastic crate. Get a properly sized wire crate.


All of these things can be so very important and useful for any dog, working or pet. It's fun and easy to teach these concepts to a Kangal Dog. Especially when they are young. So start TODAY! Contact me if you need some pointers about your specific situation. 


I love crate training! Look it up on YouTube--some good videos there.









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