Crate Training Benefits

Crates can be training and safety devices and can benefit dog and owner alike. Crating on a humane schedule teaches puppies bladder and bowel control and limits the amount of destruction a chewing puppy can do to a home. Also dogs that are crated in a car are more likely to survive an auto accident and less likely to cause one.

What Type, Size of Crate

  • The most common types are molded plastic airline shipping crates and the open-wire types that usually come with a metal tray on the bottom. For owners who plan on doing a lot of air travel with their dogs, the molded plastic variety is best. Wire crates are preferred in most other instances.
  • The size of the crate is based on the size of your dog. There should be enough room for him to stand up, turn around in a small circle and lie down comfortably. The crate serves as a place where the dog can rest and chew on safe, appropriate toys. It is not an exercise pen.
  • If you plan to use the crate as a housebreaking aid, size is key. If there is room for the animal to soil and then live away from the mess, the crate doesn’t serve its purpose. If you’re buying a crate for a puppy, keep the adult dog’s size in mind, but excess room should be cordoned off with Plexiglas or another type of barrier.

How Long Should You Crate

  • The rule of thumb for crating is no longer than one hour per each month of age up to nine to 10 hours maximum (the average work day). Each session should be preceded and succeeded by an hour of aerobic exercise. If this is too long for your dog, hire a dog walker to exercise him mid-day.
  • Before you leave your dog for a long stretch, make sure you have him used to the crate. A dog who panics when left alone in the crate could damage it or himself. Never crate your dog while he is wearing any sort of correction collar: It could easily get caught on something in the crate and choke the animal.
  • Crating is recommended as part of the workday routine until the dog grows out of adolescence (at approximately 18 months of age), for dogs who are heavy chewers or are otherwise destructive. Proceed slowly when it’s time to wean your dog off the crate; leave him alone for just a few hours at a time. And thick twice before leaving a curious adolescent alone in your home, even if it’s behaving well during the day.

Puppies and Crates

  • Avoid relying too heavily on the crate for a puppy’s early months. Most puppies three and a half to four months old can be crated overnight for about six hours, even though they probably cannot yet display that kind of bladder control during the daytime. Younger dogs crated at bedtime will need to be brought to their papers or outdoors at least once in the middle of the night.

Source: Jacque Lynn Schultz, CPDT

PRINTABLE: A Crate can be Great.pdf

How To Pick A Cat At TCHS

WashingtonHiRes WEBSo you’ve decided you want to expand your family with the addition of a purr-fect pet. Congratulations – and you’re far from alone! Common house cats are the most popular pet in the United States. They don’t require as much direct care as dogs, but that doesn’t mean they are no-fuss pets. Here are some tips to help you find and prepare for your new friend.

  • Kitten or cat? If your household is a busy one in which people work full time, consider bypassing a kitten or adolescent (less than 18 months old) in favor of a more low-key adult cat. Young children typically cannot handle kittens responsibly, so a cat that's at least four months old is a good choice.
  • Short-haired or long? Which one you choose is a matter of your preference and whether you have time to do regular grooming. Short-haired cats are more common at Tri-County Humane Society. Long-haired cats require frequent grooming to be mat-free. Short-haired cats need to be brushed, too, though, and most cats enjoy a good brushing.
  • Budget for your new pet. A vet examination can cost $25 or more. Food can cost up to $300 annually – and these are just estimates. Talk to staff members at Tri-County Humane Society about what you can expect to spend with your new pet. Keep in mind, a cat can live up to 15 to 20 years or so.
  • Browse Tri-County Humane Society. You can do this both in person and virtually. There is an array of cats and kittens waiting to meet you. All of them will be spayed or neutered at TCHS before they can be adopted. They also will have received an external exam, dewormer and some shots. (Adopters receive a medical record.) The cats’ information will include descriptions about their personalities; this will help you determine who is the best match for your household. Call 320-252-0896 for details.
  • Make an introduction. Ask a TCHS staff member or volunteer if you can bring a cat or kitten out of its cage so you can interact with it. Keep in mind that the shelter can be a stressful place for animals, so the way the animal reacts might not be indicative of what he or she is like in a home setting; often animals are calmer once they have more space in a quieter environment. If a particular cat needs more socialization, carefully consider whether your household can meet its needs.
  • Get your home ready. You’ll need food, a litter box (basic rule of thumb is one per cat plus one), litter, a litter scoop, a food dish, a water dish, a scratching post, and toys, of course! It’s great to have a toy that your cat can play with on his/her own, plus a toy that you can use to play with him/her. Consider shopping at Tri-County Humane Society’s store, located in our front lobby! We have everything you need here to get you started with your new cat or kitten, and all the proceeds go back to our animals.
  • Check out our tips on introducing a kitten/cat to its new home.
  • Bring your kitten/cat to a veterinarian within seven days. It’s very important that you bring your new animal to a vet – it will need follow-up care and should be evaluated by a medical professional. While TCHS does not give recommendations for veterinarians, our adoption packets include information on the professionals in Central Minnesota. We cannot make guarantees on the health of your animal, and there is a seven-day return policy.
  • Enjoy your new kitten or cat! This is the start of a special bond. Remember to play, take pictures, and most of all snuggle with them. And let TCHS know how well your new addition is doing!

Note: Some information adapted from Jacque Lynn Schultz, CPDT

PRINTABLE Adopt the right cat for you.pdf

Prevent Dog Bites in Children

Millions of people every year in the U.S. are victims of dog bites. Sixty percent of these victims are children. Dog bites are one of the most common reason children visit the emergency room, and the majority of the dog bites to children are from dogs the child knows.

Dog safety tips for children

  • Always ask permission from an adult owner before petting an unknown dog.
  • If the owner says you can pet the dog, walk to the side of the dog and face the same direction as the dog. Stand up or squat down if the dog is small. Never bend at the waist. Gently extend your hand with the fingers curled up for the dog to sniff. If the dog backs away, he does not want to be petted. If he doesn’t back away, then open your hand and pet him over the shoulders.
  • Never try to pet a dog through a fence or care window.
  • Never pet a dog that is tied up.
  • Never pet a dog that is eating, or playing with a toy.
  • Never pet a mother dog that is nursing her puppies.
  • If a dog runs up to you, stand like a tree, with your hands at your side. Don’t run. Be quiet. If the dog knocks you down, lie like a log. Don’t move and protect your neck with your hands.

Safety tips for parents

  • Supervise your dog with your children, particularly toddlers. Dogs can behave differently with children than adults.
  • Train your dog. All dogs should attend at least one obedience class.

Source: Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association/University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine

Cold Weather Tips


We prefer that pets live comfortably in the home with their people rather than outdoors year-round, but on extremely cold days or nights, it really is necessary!  Minnesota winters are simply too harsh for even the most well-equipped breeds.  Please follow these tips to help your pet remain safe, comfortable and happy:

  • Bring pets inside when the temperature is below freezing.
  • Dogs with well-insulated doghouses should be brought inside when the temperature drops below 5 degrees.
  • Hay can be used as an insulator.  Do not use blankets as they can get wet and freeze.
  • Doghouses must be large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortable but small enough to hold in body heat.  The floor should be raised off the ground and doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
  • Doorways to doghouses should be facing away from the wind.
  • When outside, make sure your pet has the proper shelter and fresh water.  Don't let their water freeze!
  • Staying warm in the winter requires extra calories, so adjust your pet's diet accordingly.
  • Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when they come in out of the rain, snow or ice.  Salt, antifreeze or other chemicals could irritate their paws or harm your dog if ingested.
  • Animals like the sweet taste of antifreeze, and just a few sips can kill your pet.  Store antifreeze containers away from pets and promptly clean up any spills. Seek medical help if you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze.
  • Remember, if it is cold for you, it is cold for your pet!  Some pets may even require a warm sweater for quick potty breaks or walks.

Read more: Cold Weather Tips

Claw Trimming

cat_claws_1They serve as hooks, crampons, switchblades and chisels. A cat's claws are the Swiss Army knife of the feline toolbox. They are essential in practically every role that a cat plays.

Claws are indispensable! Yet, in many households, a cat and his claws are separated via surgical declawing -- all for the sake of the sofa. While all cats need to scratch, few need to be declawed.  Would you cut off your entire fingernail?

Read more: Claw Trimming

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