From The Akita Club

The scenario is familiar to most dog owners: an adorable puppy is bought because it is so cute, so cuddly, so adorable... Then it starts to grow...and grow... and grow... and so, too, does its appetite. It graduates from free feeding in its early days to four regular meals a day, then three meals a day, and then (if it's a larger breed) two meals.

It's little needle teeth are soon replaced by adult TEETH! Big, pretty and white. And sharp! And soon it starts supplementing its diet with such tasty morsels as: the couch, an end table the corner of which is just the right height from the floor to allow it to fit neatly into the corner of Poochie's mouth, making it perfect dental floss for the molars.Those new drapes are great for play-attacking, as are those hand-made throw pillows.And, aaahh Lord, those really terrific feathers! I mean, are ththe greatest, or what?

Soon, tender expressions of family love are replaced by apoplectic wild-eyed screaming, once gently stroking hands become flailing weapons with but one intent: to grab Poochie and knock him cold! Human feet that once tip-toed across the room so as not to waken sleeping baby Poochie("Look, he's asleep. Isn't he a darlin' little guy? Couldn't you just hug him to pieces?") now attempt to kick Poochie right through closed doors or a wall.

Banished, screamed at, ignored, confined to whatever tiny space contains the least valuable of family possessions, allowed to be with the family only after being read the riot act and under threat of instant death, Poochie continues to grow: from cute puppy to gangly, discombobulated clumsy puppyhood to young adult, not quite understanding what the fuss is all about. So he begins to plot his revenge, and one night while all is silent in the house he makes his move.

Reveille, and all hands are up and about, with daddy headed for the kitchen for his coffee, when the first whiff of eau d'poo assails the nostrils. By the end of this day, or this week at most, Poochie is history with this family. And with him goes all the anger, the destruction, the weird behavior that caused such frustration and despair to his once loving owners, all of it is gone! Out, damned dog! And don't ever mention "dog" in this house again!

Poochie, of course, is salvageable and if he's lucky, really lucky, he'll end up with a Breed Rescue organization or in a no-kill shelter. And maybe, just maybe, he'll be adopted by a more understanding new owner who will take Poochie home and CRATE him until he's properly re-socialized, house-broken, and trained until he understands what is needed of him and is steady in his performance.

The above tale of woe could have had a happier ending if Poochie's original owners had crate trained him from the start. House breaking would have been swifter, with steadier results. Destructive behavior would have been nipped in the bud, before it had time to become a pleasurable (and hard to break) diversion for the pup. It all boils down to one important point: if you keep a constant watch on Poochie, you can catch and correct him whenever he thinks he'd like to... whatever! If you can't watch him because you (had to go to the toilet, answer the phone, stir the pot, go to the store, etc), then pop him into his crate! When you get back from???? he'll still be there, alive, chewing his rawhide, standing with his front feet in his water bowl and a grin on his face, or (most likely )asleep. Unless, of course, you went shopping in another country, and the above mentioned toilet was on American Airlines. Then, by time you gotback to Poochie he'd again be history and you'd be under arrest!

PGBV happy in a crateMany people have an unfounded but understandable aversion to crating a dog. It's inhumane, they say: cruel and unusual punishment. How could you put Poochie into something that's no bigger than a bread-box, no better than a jail, and keep him there? You ought to be reported (investigated; horse-whipped; wrapped in barbed wire and rolled down a long hill; boiled in oil; denied permission to ever own another dog, prevented from having children..oh, heck, the list is endless!), they say. When pressed for their solution to Poochie's behavior they reel off a whole list o fimprobable suggestions, including the ever popular and totally disgusting and cruel "...rub his nose in it!". Now I ask you, is beating with the hand or a stick or rolled paper, chaining to a tree in the backyard, locking up in the laundry room, putting into the basement, confining to the outdoors never to lay at the foot of his master's or mistresses bed at night, better than a few weeks of crate training?

That's right. A few weeks... Not the rest of his life. Not day in and day out, being released only for food and a quick trip to the nearest tree before being confined again. Crating is nothing more than a training aid that helps prevent problems before they start. It will help in quickly breaking habits before they become ingrained in the nature of the beast.And if you do it with intelligence, with real conviction, and with love, Poochie isn't going to look unkindly upon it. Remember, canines are"cave-dwellers" by nature. In the wild they build dens and lairs, or inhabit natural caves. In your house a dog will often lay beneath a table or in the corner of the room, or (as my male does) on the first landing of the stairs where it is dark and protected on three sides! Properly introduced to a crate early in life Poochie will quickly look upon it as its own safety zone, its cave if you will, and will retreat to it at appropriate times or on command. For example, I have a friend who has two children (one a toddler) and three dogs: two Akitas and a miniature poodle. He introduced the Akitas to crating the day after he had run to the local grocery store for milk, leaving the dogs asleep on the living room floor. He was gone fifteen minutes at most, but he returned to find the couch shredded! Totally shredded; I mean, down to the frame, folks! A brand new $1200 couch... that was as close as those dogs ever came to dying, for he was literally going to take those youngsters out and shoot them. But wife and children came to the dog's defence, and reason prevailed. I loaned him two of my crates until he could buy his own, the couch was repaired to the tune of seven hundred dollars and he went to the local pet store and spent eighty bucks for a couple of crates to replace my loaners. Today, those two fully grown Akitas respond to the quietly spoken command "Crate" by getting into their respective "cave", laying down and going to sleep, even though there is no longer any reason to continue to crate them. The doors of the crates are left open; they are now used simply as a means to get the animals out from under foot during house cleaning or dinner parties.

Look at the economics involved: Ninety bucks or less for a crate, or five hundred bucks to repair damage to the house or its furnishings? The answer to that, of course, is obvious. Look at the peace of mind involved: when you cannot keep an eye on young Poochie because (bathroom, the phone, guest for coffee and a chat, the store... ) into the crate-- No! substitute the word LAIR for crate and it might be easier for you to accept-- and close the door. When you get back to your pet he'll still be there, alive and well and ready for "walkie-walkies".


1. Consider what size this little fella will attain at maturity, and pickout a crate that will accommodate the dog when full grown. An adult dogshould be able to stand erect in the crate, and turn around in it without being cramped. If you make an error in judgement as to size, better it be too large than too small. Consider the distance between the bars of thecage: they should not be more than two inches apart or the pup could very well wedge its head through them. Remember, the initial cost will be repaid you with peace of mind beyond value. There are two types of crate available: the travel crate, which is enclosed on all sides except theVari Kennelsfront which is a wire grid door; or, (the type I prefer) wire-grid open all around, with a sliding pan type removable floor, which affords the dog unrestricted visibility. Both types are portable, of course, with the open-grid type having the added convenience of disassembly if you want to break it down and carry it in the trunk of your car, for example.Whichever you choose, once you get it home set it up nicely for the pup. Apiece of carpet cut to size for the floor of the crate (you can get remnants from your local carpet store) will make it cozy inside. Put it in a location that will be convenient for you to keep an eye on, and where Poochie can keep an eye on you. In my own case, I had one in the livingroom and one in the bedroom so my pal could always be close to me but under control in those areas where we normally hang out and relax...and thus allow me to relax!

2. In the wild, the pup is introduced to the concept of "cave" by being born into it. Later, a change of location is introduced by the bitch when she carries her litter to their new home. You, too, must introduce Poochie to its new home. Make it as pleasant as you can: put toys in there; feed the dog in the crate, leaving the door open so he can get to his food whenever he wants to eat; coax the pup inside, quietly close the door, and play with it through the bars. After a while walk quietly away and leave him alone. If he yodels and yells, ignore it or correct it with the usual "No! Quiet! Phooey!".


This canno tbe over-emphasized: if you want "Poo" to accept that crate as his own, as safe refuge, refrain from hitting him then throwing him in it and slamming the door shut with anger. For example, your attention wandered from the pup because you had to attend to supper cooking on the stove. In the meantime, Poo discovered that some houseplants taste great and have all this really terrific dirt in them that makes SUCH a nice contrast with the newly cleaned white carpet. When you discover Poo's discovery, discipline on the spot, but do NOT express your displeasure by sticking him into the crate with a show of exasperation. Clean up the mess, continuing to verbalize your displeasure (What a bad dog! Shame! Phooey!); Poo will most likely retreat to the crate without prompting, in order to find refugefrom your anger. If so, great! He's doing just what you want him to do: accept the confinement of the crate as his safe haven. If not, after you calm down, coax him into the crate, or gently place him there, and close the door. Remember, his transgression was YOUR fault for you failed to follow one of the basic tenets of crating: If you cannot keep the pup under constant observation, even for so short a period as it takes to stir the soup, put him into the crate!

3. As an aid to housebreaking, the crate really shines as an investment. Just keep in mind the following general principal of pups and what they eat/drink: whatever Poochie stuffs into its face will sooner or later reappear at the other end of him, usually within thirty to forty-five minutes later! AND... an animal will rarely if ever foul where it lives or sleeps! If it does foul its crate, it's your fault because you miscalculated his ability to "hold it in". This is a given, and this is what makes housebreaking possible! It's just an extension of Poo's natural instinct, i.e. to dump outside the home. Given the pups undeveloped bladder/bowel control, you have to help him along. EXACTLY THE SAME ASTOILET TRAINING HUMAN CHILDREN!! Therefore, you should be prepared to walk Poochie thirty minutes to an hour after he eats, and immediately after a play session in the house and before you put him into the crate.

This was my routine: in the evening, around eight o'clock, food was pickedup and put aside, Seiko (my Akita male) was released outside to his established "spot" for toilet. Leashed, we'd walk a ways letting him sniff and snuffle here and there, then return home. Play, groom, hang-out, then a quick trip outside to his spot before putting him back into the crate. While we were hanging out together, if the phone rang, into the crate! Taking a shower, into the crate. Run next door for a chat, into... You get the idea, right? At ten I picked up the water bowl (regardless of how hot the weather was, by the way) and immediately took Seiko outdoors to his spot. Upon return indoors, I put Seiko into the bedroom crate where he would watch me preparing for bed. Lights out, and thereafter any complaint from Seiko was reprimanded quietly.

Reveille at 0530; Seiko was released from the crate and immediately takento his outdoor spot where he would sniff and snuffle to his hearts content while I sipped at my coffee and enjoyed the early morning calm. As soon as he finished his toilet I'd make a small party for him, celebrating his great intelligence at dumping in all the right places. Back into the house, he'd have breakfast as I had mine. Then he went back into his crate so I could finish my normal morning routine. Throughout the day his routine never changed: Period of play; outdoors for toilet; into the crate; out of the crate and immediately outdoors for toilet; period of play; outdoors for toilet; into the crate. Within three weeks, Seiko would immediately head for the door as soon as I released him from the crate andwait impatiently for me to let him out for "peepee/Kaka". Quickly onto a regular feeding schedule (early AM and early evening), his routine was soon established and adhered to.

Seiko has never had an "accident" in the house, nor has he ever put his teeth into anything I didn't give him to chew! Neither has his main squeeze "Kiku" nor their son "Ichiban". Thanks to crating, I've rarely had to punish any of them for unchecked indiscretions. So now, on those rare occasions when I do correct or discipline for some infraction, my displeasure is vented verbally and the disapproval in my voice makes them much more regretful than beating or banishment ever could.

Once you have embarked upon the crate-training journey, and have over comethe pet-store-puppy-in-a-cage image conjured up by seeing cute little Poochie behind bars, then remain consistent in your routine and methods.It boils down to a very basic routine: From crate to outdoors to play to outdoors and back to crate; then start all over again. Soon enough Poo will make it to the front door without prompting from you; he'll play withyou until he's tired and will then wander into his DEN, flop down and goto sleep without having to be coaxed, or even run to the front door and ask to go out. He'll even go into his den on command (Poo... crate!) without fuss or nonsense. Within two or three months you will have achieved more with your little pal than non-crating friends with their dogs who, if they bought their pup the same time you bought yours, are by now probably into punching, kicking, screaming at or isolating their uncontrolled, thus less well-behaved pets. You will never regret your decision to give crating a try! And crating will have no adverse effect upon the dog. It isn't cruel and inhumane treatment. With your own peace of mind (no more coming home from the grocery store wondering "...what the hell the dog got into this time...") will come a more relaxed and loving attitude towards your dog, and a happier and more understanding eager to please attitude from good old Poo.

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