To Crate or Not To Crate

When I posted a video showing the feeding process for our 9 dogs, with 5 of them eating in crates, it sparked a debate about the use of crates. Some people think they are cruel, while others think they are a great invention. When I posted on my personal Facebook page regarding the use of crates, I had 92 responses in favor of the judicious use of crates.

Here are some of the pros:
1. Dogs are den animals and see the crate as their den. Wild dogs spend up to 16 hours a day sleeping in their dens.
2. Dogs are like toddlers (particularly puppies) and should not be allowed free range in the house with no supervision when owners are away. Electric cords are not chew toys.
3. Crates can be used to separate dogs at feeding times so medications in food go to the correct dogs, there is no food guarding, and dogs can eat at their own speed.
4. Dogs that are crate trained will be less stressed when crated at the groomer or veterinary office.
5. Crates are great during transportation, improving pet and driver safety.
6. Crates are great to assist with house training. Dogs will not soil their dens (unless left in the crate too long and they just can't hold it or they have not been properly crate trained and they are anxious).
7. Crates provide a safe haven when workmen or guests go in and out of homes, preventing possible escape through an open door.
8. Crates protect visitors, like small children, if a pet may get overwhelmed or be prone to nip or jump up and scratch.
9. Dogs that are used to crates won't complain if they have an injury and need to be confined for recovery.
10. Puppy mill survivors sometimes view the crate as a safe haven (my Lora Lu loved the crate) because that is all they know.
11. Crates provide a safe haven for sleeping and alone time.

Reasons why people dislike crates:
1. Crates have been used by some as a form of punishment.
This is not the purpose of a crate. It should be a safe haven.
2. Confinement is cruel. I agree, if you leave your pet in
there 6 to 12 hours a day with no relief. Puppies should be in there no more than 3 to 4 hours at a time.
3. Some dogs go crazy in a crate and hurt themselves trying
to get out. This is true - for dogs that have not been
properly trained to use a crate.
4. Dogs can hurt themselves by getting paws or toes stuck in wires or holes in the crate. This is true, but they could also get hurt many other ways while living outside a crate. We had 3 torn ACL's in 4 months, which all occurred while playing outside in freedom. I have never had a dog get hurt in a crate.

For tips on proper crate training, check out this advice by Dr. Karen Becker.

We do not crate our dogs, other than at feeding time, to make sure everyone gets the right food, the right medications, and they do not feel threatened so they can eat at their own pace. We do have open crates around the house, which some dogs choose to go in on their own when they want a little privacy. Others choose the sofa or the bed :)

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