Dear Andrea,

The shelter I’m fostering for suggested that I use a crate for my foster dog but I feel so guilty when I go to work!  Is this really the best thing to do?

—Submitted by Sophia in Texas—

Hi Sophia,

When used properly, a crate can be a very useful tool to help with an almost endless list of things when caring for a foster dog. Having your foster pup rest calmly in the crate means you are keeping them safe when you can’t supervise them. Allowing your foster dog to roam freely in your home unsupervised puts them at risk of ingesting something dangerous and damaging items in your home. Having your foster pup rest calmly in the crate is also a great aid to house training because it allows you to best accurately predict when he needs to go potty (pups need to potty immediately after waking from a nap in their crate). By helping your foster pup to rest calmly in the crate you are also helping him develop self-pacification skills which is vital to prevent future separation issues. So, in a nutshell, please don’t feel guilty about using a crate. It would be a disservice to your foster pup to not do all you can to keep him safe and teach him the foundation skills he will need in his future adoptive home. Just be sure to start by using the crate for very brief periods of time (just after he has gone potty so he isn’t inclined to make a mistake in the crate), to feed him at least one meal in the crate a day (so he learns to associate the crate with thinks he likes), and to give him a couple of durable, food stuff able toys to play with during crating times.

— Andrea

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Andrea Arden, companion animal behavior expert, is lending her expertise to answer your most pressing fido questions! Founder of Andrea Arden Dog Training in NYC, author of Barron’s Dog Training Bible, Dog Friendly Dog Training, Train Your Dog the Lazy Way, and The Little Book of Dog Tricks, and on-air expert for shows like Live with Kelly & Ryan and The Today Show, Andrea has seen just about everything.