It’s amazing how divisive some things can be in the dog world. Everything from the best kind of dog food to what kind of collar your pet wears can cause a lot of drama. Kennel training is another one of those things. Some people view it as virtually jailing a fur-person, while others see it as a useful way of keeping pets out of trouble.

The truth is that even if you don’t plan to kennel your dog at home, you should kennel train your chihuahua. When we say you should kennel train your chihuahua to be clear, we don’t mean locking your dog up until it is convenient for you. We mean teaching your pet that when they are in a kennel, it is time to relax.

Here’s why you should teach your dog how to behave in a kennel, even if you never use them at home.

  • Reduces Stress at the Vet

We never plan for our dogs to have emergency stays at the vet. Certainly not the kind that may require them to stay overnight. If your dog does end up needing emergency care however, they will not be resting on a couch in the back office, they will be in a kennel.

If your dog does not know how to rest comfortably in a kennel, he may panic. Even if he doesn’t panic, the novel experience of being in a kennel is added stress that could make healing more difficult.

  • Reduces Stress at the Groomer

Pity the dogs whose owner asks the groomer to groom them “Straight Through” so they don’t have to go in a kennel. Those poor souls don’t get breaks. They are kept on their feet the entire time, and don’t get an emotional rest break from having every part of their body handled.

Groomers use kennels to let the dogs rest. If it is requested that they do not go in a kennel, grooming can be very difficult for them. On the flip side, if they’ve never been conditioned to view the kennel as a place to relax, even when given a rest break they may still feel stressed. Dogs need that training to help them enjoy kennel time.

  • Makes Using Emergency Shelters Possible

If war or a natural disaster causes you to require an emergency shelter, you may be faced with putting your dog in a kennel or leaving them behind. Dogs that can relax in a kennel have options. Dogs who can kennel are welcome in many more places than dogs who cannot.

Just like we humans learn CPR but don’t necessarily use it, dogs should learn to kennel even if there is no plan to keep them there at home.

  • Helps Reduce Canine/Family Friction

Chihuahuas quickly learn that the kennel is their own personal den. It’s a place they can go to when they don’t necessarily want to play Tea Party with your 5-year-old for the 5,678th time. My chihuahuas have often stormed dramatically into their kennel when they want to be alone, and while they can’t physically slam the door, one gets the idea that this is what they planned to do.

A well-prepared kennel with lots of blankets and pillows often becomes your dog’s favorite place to relax, especially if the kennel door is left open, and family members are made aware the dog is not to be disturbed when it’s in there.

A kennel can help defuse tensions between dogs and children, by giving the dog a clear but peaceful way to signal when they are done getting attention.

chihuahua enjoying snack in kennel
Sandy likes to eat snacks protected from the other dogs in her kennel. Super Secret Snacks are better without pesky family trying to share.

How Not To Use a Kennel

Kennel training can help keep your pet safe, aid in potty training, and give them their own ‘room.’ Just like any other tool however, it can be misused. Here’s a few examples:

  • Overcrating

If you put your dog in the kennel for work, work 8 hours plus 2 hours traveling back and forth, your dog has been trapped in a small box for 10 hours. If you then let them out for a walk, feed, and TV time, then lock them up overnight, their whole lifetime is essentially in storage. Finland outright bans crates used in such a manner, but still allows crating for temporary purposes.

Overcrating your dog can lead to a range of mental and physical issues. If your pet isn’t reliable in the house and you work long hours, hire a dog walker or a daycare to help break things up for your pet. It’s very important that dogs see more than the same 4 walls every single day.

When we advocate that you should kennel train your chihuahua, it’s not to keep them in a tiny box 24/7. It’s so if they ever break their leg and need crate rest, you won’t face amputation because they don’t know how to chill in their kennel and constantly re-injure it.

  • Using the Crate as Punishment

The crate should be a safe place your pet can relax in. If your dog associates it with a negative experience, it will cause them to resent the kennel rather than enjoy it. Once again, this is not a jail, it’s a safe space.

Kennels are meant to be for temporary purposes. They are meant to safely get your dog to the dog park, to house your dog while at a vet or groomer, or in an emergency. They can also help dogs clearly understand potty training, but this is once again a temporary situation.

Most dogs love having a kennel of their own, and it can be extremely useful if an emergency ever happens. Even if you don’t plan to keep them in a kennel at home however, you should at least introduce them gently to being kenneled so if an emergency happens, they can stay safe.

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