By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Crating can be beneficial but only when used responsibly. Since dogs, at times, do have a natural inclination to seek security in a quiet den-like area, such as under a table or a desk, a crate can be a useful and effective temporary training tool when used in moderation, and should be a positive experience.

It can also be a safe, comfortable place for the dog to retreat. The crate can be useful when you first bring your dog home and are limiting access to the rest of the house while your dog learns other rules, such as not chewing on furniture, house training (since dogs don’t like to soil in their dens), etc, and crates are also a safe way to transport your dog in the car.

But – crating should never be used as punishment. The size of the crate should be, without exception, one and a half times longer than your adult dog’s body (not counting the tail) and tall enough for him to stand up comfortably. Puppies under three months of age should never be crated for more than thirty minutes at a time and older puppies, not for more than two or three hours. An adult dog of any age should be given relief after just a few hours as well.

A dog should never be left in a crate all day and all night under any circumstance.

On the whole, crates should be used on a temporary training basis or if longer term is needed, with the door open as a place for your pet to feel safe. The crate should not serve as a prison.

The end result should be a secure and happy dog. Any misuse of the crate would certainly result in an animal who will become extremely frightened and isolated.

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