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First; this is not to ask for a step-by-step training advice.

There are many questions and answers on Pets-SE that mention "crating" and "crate-training" a dog. First time I personally found crate-training was in this question:

Crate training our puppy is not working?

Having my doubts I went to Google it, to find "How to Crate Train your dog or puppy." which I read until this "Never close the door until the dog is relaxed and comfortable." came up. Of course I read the rest of the article too, but that quote is what made me ask this.

Okay, we had a crate for our dog too. The crate was there for the dog to go in to have a peaceful place to sleep and rest. Here's the difference, we never closed the door. At the moment we don't have any crate at home, except those disassembled ones in basement. I consider both of our dogs "crate-trained" so that they feel okay in a closed crate when we take them to a dog show. Maybe we are just lucky to have two such nice dogs that we can leave them home by themselves while the human members of our family are away at work and school.

So, the question. Why would I close the crate door at home? What is "crating a dog" really? What purpose has it, other than to offer a dog a safe place to sleep and rest?

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    You'd really only close the door when they're unsupervised and can't be trusted at home alone. Besides the wild ones, older dogs don't normally need to be crated. You housebroke your dogs a different way, it appears, and it worked, so that's great. – jeremy Dec 26 '13 at 23:45
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"Crating" a dog is putting a dog in a crate with the door closed for whatever reason.

The major benefit of using a crate with a young puppy is to prevent the puppy from learning bad habits when it is not being closely supervised. A puppy that is confined to its crate will not be peeing on the floor or chewing up your shoes. It also teaches the pup to settle down when you are just hanging out at home. Of course, the pup should spend plenty of time out of the crate as well, but only when you are able to keep an eye on them.

For a well-trained adult dog there is rarely any need to close the crate door. The major exceptions would be:

  • When the dog is recovering from an injury or surgery and must not be allowed to exercise at all
  • When the dog is being transported in a car or plane, or must be left unsupervised in an unsafe environment
  • If the crate is being used as a management tool to prevent a poorly-trained dog from indulging in bad behaviour. This is obviously not an ideal long-term solution for the dog's welfare, but can be useful as a temporary measure while retraining is taking place.
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    +1, Also important to mention is that crate training is exactly that: training. Once they're trained not to pee in the house, and you've used the crate to prevent that, they're ready to sleep in other places besides there locked crate. – jeremy Dec 26 '13 at 23:42
  • The middle item on the list is what I do too, it is sort of natural thing to do. Point one I can understand, and with point three I seem to have forgotten not all dogs come to their owners as puppies; adopting an adult dog is an option too. I would not use crating even then, but I can see it as one possibility. Thanks for a good answer. – Esa Paulasto Dec 27 '13 at 6:52
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    As you mentioned in your question, crates are also a great tool for keeping your dog safe/contained when they are away from home. If a dog is comfortable with a crate and they have to stay overnight at a strange house it is a great way for them to settle down and feel comfortable there too. I use them at trials or on the side-lines during training sessions as well. – Beth Whitezel Mar 4 '14 at 5:18

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