The vast majority of dog owners consider their pups to be part of the family (ranging from 75% to 95%, depending on the study). But our dogs don’t always understand all the rules of human society – no chewing on furniture, no jumping up on guests, no peeing in the corner. It’s our job as the big-brained primates to help teach them how to behave in our homes. There are many benefits to dog training with a pet gate and gates can be incredibly helpful for many different training task.
Most new puppy owners start out using a crate for basic chewing prevention and potty training. A pet gate can be an incredibly helpful next step towards giving your dog more independence.
Pet Gate Characteristics To Consider
Make sure that you’re considering the right type of pet gate for the job:
- Height. A little Daschund can be stopped by an 18” gate. This gate would hardly slow down a larger dog though. And some dogs are virtually unstoppable with pet gates – I’ve known a few shepherds that can easily scale a 10 foot wall.
- Width. Be sure to measure the space that you’d like the gate to function in. Many pet gates are expandable, but you’ll still find that not all gates fit all gaps.
- Opening Mechanism. Some extra-secure pet gates can be challenging to open one-handed, or may prove too tricky for children. Some gates are not meant to be opened easily. If you know the gate will be in a high-traffic area, you’ll want to look for an easy-open mechanism (like a lift handle).
- Small Pet Door. If your goal is to halt a boisterous teenage dog, but allow your cat to access her litter box, a gate with a door for your kitty is a perfect fit. Just keep in mind that many small dogs can fit through the pet door!
- Material. It’s intuitive to choose a material based on what matches your decor – and that absolutely matters! It’s also important to consider the sturdiness of material. Many puppies are least likely to chew on metal, which is why stylish wood may be tempting for teething puppies.
- Attachment Mechanism. Freestanding gates are suitable for older dogs that respect gates, but won’t stop many younger pups. For younger puppies, a secure wall-mounting system is best to keep exuberant dogs from knocking the gate over, but does require putting holes in your wall. Pressure-mounted gates tend to be secure enough for most dogs without damaging your walls.
- Your Goals. Will this gate be a permanent furnishing in a main living space, or an as-needed stopgap to the back door? Do you expect this gate to take a beating from a young puppy,? Is it just a visual blocker for a well-mannered adult? Do you need a gate that can be moved from place to place? Will it remain in the same area for its entire use?
If you’re using a pet gate to wean your dog off of a crate, start small. Use the gate to keep your dog inside of a given space. When potty training a puppy, you might want to use it to keep your puppy inside of a tiled area of your home. As your puppy gets more trustworthy, you can use the gate to keep her out of given areas instead. Switching from keeping your puppy confined to keeping the environment confined is a big step that should be celebrated! Depending on your dog’s personality and your home setup, you might always need to use a pet gate for some things. For example, I almost always leave a freestanding gate up around my trash can. Why? My six-year-old dog simply isn’t trustworthy, and it’s not a high priority for me to fix with training.
What Other Training Is Possible With A Gate?
Aside from helping with potty training, inappropriate chewing, and trash-stealing, other benefits of dog training with a gate can help with a variety of behavior and training goals:
- Giving older dogs a break from the puppy. Puppies can be a real pain in the tail! However, most older dogs will really benefit from a divided household for at least a few hours a day. This has the added benefit of helping teach your puppy to settle alone, rather than constantly pestering the adults.
- Helping ease tension between household members. Whether it’s a fussy cat or an insecure dog, pet gates can help ease your pets into living together. A well-placed pet gate allows your pets to interact through the gate, rest, play, and avoid each other as needed. Pet gates are an imperative part of most successful dog-cat introductions. They can be very useful for managing complicated dog-dog relationships too.
- Giving your dog extra space from exciting things. Whether your dog charges the door or fixates on the windows, pet gates can help add distance between your pup and the exciting thing. You’ll find training is much easier if your dog has a bit of space from his triggers.
- Building independence. Dogs that are overly dependent on their owners may seem cute in theory, but this lack of independence isn’t exactly good for their mental wellbeing. Use the gate to keep your pup from following you into the shower, or simply practice cooking on one side while your pup is five feet away, pet gates can help teach your dog not to be so underfoot. Giving your dog intermittent treats as payment for calm behavior can help even more!
It’s important to make sure that your dog’s needs are being met. Be sure that the pet-gated area has water, toys, and a comfy resting place. If your dog is upset when being separated from you, make sure that her needs are being met. Spending plenty of time with them helps. For young puppies, it helps to exclusively put them in the confinement area when they’re already tired.
The benefits of dog training with a gate are abundant and incredibly helpful for all sorts of pet training. Do you have a use for your pet gate that we didn’t mention? Let other readers know below!
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