The Pros and Cons of Crate Training

  • 02/11/2012
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There is a lot of debate about crate training among dog owners, much of it caused by concern for the safety of the dog, both physical and mental.

The mental side of the debate is summed up in one sentence: Some people believe that crate training is cruel to the dog because it is locking them in a little cage for the day.

The truth is that to a dog, having a crate can be comforting. This is because it gives the dog somewhere all their own to go when they are stressed and need to be alone, separate from other dogs, humans, or anything else in the house. Since no one else goes in their crate but them, it is somewhat like their own home inside their house.

There is a downside to crates when dogs who go into crates when their owners leave the house have owners that leave for long periods at a time.

Crates are not meant to be long-term housing facilities for dogs. They are relatively small, in comparison to other places dogs roam, and dogs can get quite bored sitting in a kennel. Crates work best when the dog's owners are gone for no more than eight hours, though closer to four hours would be ideal.

Imagine being stuck in a box with no one to play with and nothing to do for twelve hours in a day. Not overly stimulating.

It becomes cruel when dogs are consistently left in their crates for long hours, but crates can also have a beneficial element to them. Even if they are not used to put a dog up for the day, just having a crate in the house can be a comfort to the dog.

They can also serve to be a sort of "time-out" for a dog that has gotten too wild while playing, or some place to put the dog when a visitor comes over that the dog doesn't like.

The physical safety side of the argument against crates has some merit. Some people who refuse to crate their dogs say they choose not to do so because if the house catches fire while they are not there, the dogs have a far better chance of escaping the fire if they are free and not crated.

If an owner just isn't comfortable crating their dogs because they worry about their dog's safety in the event of a house emergency (fire, flood, etc.), then there are other options for what to do with your dog when you aren't home so that the dogs don't have free rein in the house.

It's a good idea to restrict a dog's movement in the house when you are gone so that they don't get into trouble (such as eating expensive couch sets). You can do this by the strategic placement of baby gates throughout the house.

Long hallways are good places to put dogs in the absence of their owner, because they have some room but there's not a lot of trouble to get into.

Keep in mind that crates have some benefits, and they don't just have to be used when the humans are gone during the day. Crates can be comforting to dogs, and can be used as a way to readjust their behaviour if needed (such as sending them to their crate when they are too rough, or loud).

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