(CBS SF) – Some folks might think it is cruel to put a dog in a crate. Not so, says Dr. Jack Aldridge, director of veterinary services at the San Francisco SPCA.

“It’s not cruel at all,” Aldridge insisted. “In fact, a crate can be a safe, comfortable place for a dog. His very own den.”

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There are benefits to crate training, Aldridge pointed out.

“It’s an extremely good tool for house breaking and chew training, and it keeps your dog from making mistakes when you’re not there to supervise. It also trains him to be inactive when he’s alone and prepares him for close confinement, like road trips,” he said.

KCBS’ Jeff Bell Reports:

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What’s involved in crate training?

“The crate should be big enough for your dog to stand and turn around,” Aldridge explained. “Make it comfy with a nice pad or blanket. Put it in a high traffic area like the kitchen, and throw in a few treats in the crate and let your dog discover them. Now, feed him his meals in his crate with the door open and try tying a chew toy in the back of the crate so he has to lie inside to play with it.”

When should you start closing the door?

“When your dog has learned to enter and leave his crate on command, you’re ready to try the first lock-in. Close the door and feed him treats for a few minutes, then let him out again. Gradually extend the duration of his time in the crate, ignoring any whining or barking, and never open the door when your dog is misbehaving. Wait until he’s quiet to let him out. Remember to never use the crate for punishment and make sure it’s always a positive experience with treats and toys.”

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