The Dog Crate Debate.
There is much debate and controversy over crating dogs and for good reason. The dog crate is one piece of dog equipment often inappropriately and over- used. Sadly, many pet dogs are subjected to being locked in a crate for hours at a time. This Holidays4Dogs article will discuss the pro’s and con’s of dog crates.
There are certain organisations, such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and other associations in the United States, that campaign against the use of keeping dogs in crates. Yet, ‘crate training’ is a common term amongst trainers and dog owners alike.
Crates can be a useful tool for all sorts of situations if you keep dogs. However, excessive use of them, seems to be a worrying trend among dog owners.
Over-use of dog crates.
Few people would agree that puppy farmers should incarcerate animals on a permanent basis. One might ask then, should those same welfare issues associated with puppy farms, not apply in the average suburban domestic home?
Many new dog owners believe that crate training can help with house-training. It can do, but in limited ways. The concept is rooted in the belief that a dog regards his cage as his ‘den’ and, like wild dogs or wolves, is less inclined to soil there. Well-meaning friends and even some professionals might persuade new owners this is a good reason to use a dog cage.
However, wild dog puppies will be out of the ‘den’ by 7 or 8 weeks; often long before. No dog would choose to spend hours at a time, confined to a tiny space with no means to roam, or toilet. This is a situation that creates a highly stressed puppy and, in some cases, the dog will just, ‘shut down’. Worryingly, many pet owners crate their dogs for long periods, sometimes while they are out at work. This has to be an unacceptable use of crates.
The problem with excessive use of cages, is that it denies the dog its very basic physical and social needs and does nothing to teach a dog how to behave.
As we have said, using crates can be beneficial, but there comes a point when over use can raise questions of an ethical nature, as well as issues of welfare.
When should a dog crate be used?
- Overnight is acceptable for puppies to prevent them from roaming, or chewing, and to help them settle in one place. Once they mature, they will go to this space to sleep and you will no longer need to shut the crate door. A crate can be a cosy bed for sleeping in and a cover over the top keeps out draughts.
- When you have lots of visitors and you want your dog to stay safe while people enter your home, or you need to answer the door.
- While the dog’s feet and coat dry off from a walk, (with the crate placed in a warm, draught free area).
- For transportation.
- To separate dogs while they eat.
- For confining the dog after surgery.
Always make sure the crate is large enough. The dog must be able to stand up without his head touching the top and he must be able to turn around comfortably.
When not to crate;
- While you are out at work all day (or part day, in fact).
- If your dog has behaviour issues, such as aggression, or separation anxiety.
- Never use the crate as a punishment.
While crates have their uses, there are alternatives. Baby gates are useful for separating rooms and preventing your puppy from accessing certain areas. You can also buy panels which can make a much larger enclosure, or cordon off part of a room.
Holidays4Dog’s position on dog crates.
At Holidays4Dogs we can most certainly accommodate dog crates during your dog’s stay. Do let us know if your dog is used to sleeping in one. However, our carers do not supply these. Guest dogs will never be crated while in our care, unless it is for specific reasons outlined in our first list above.
Crates should only be used sparingly and in certain situations. They are not a substitute for consistent training and handling. Ultimately, dogs are social creatures and need both mental and physical stimulation throughout the day. A dog should have the choice to use his crate voluntarily and not be locked in it for hours on end.