There is no single answer to the contentious question of whether or not one should crate their dog. Debate has raged for years, both for and against the practice and those with opposing views often passionately advocate for either side. That said, understanding the potential benefits and drawbacks of crating your pet can ultimately help you make the most informed decision for your hound and household. This article provides all this information, analyzing the pros and cons, and introducing alternatives to crating which will hopefully serve as useful points of reference in aiding you in making that all important choice.
Pros of Crating Your Dog
Using a crate can instill good potty habits in your pup, prevent damage to furniture and other items around the house, it can provide a sense of security and safety, create opportunities for bonding time with the dog, and may even be beneficial when an owner experiences a significant degree of separation anxiety with the pet.
Establishes Good Potty Habits
Giving a pup a stable space which they recognize as their own is crucial to establishing good bathroom habits in dogs. By nature, dogs tend to find comfort in avoiding relieving themselves in familiar areas, so ensuring familiarity with a designated area helps to establish a regular potty routine. Young dogs should get comfortable with the crate first before attempting potty training. By setting up a predictable routine, with the same amount of exercise, feeding and toilet visits, owners can make it easier for the pup to understand where and when it’s most appropriate for them to do their business.
Keeps Your Dog Safe and Secure
When placed outside or in an unfamiliar area, crates can also help to keep dogs safe and secure. For instance, if you travel often and take your pooch with you, having a crate in the hotel room makes sure that your pet is safe and sound, away from any chaos or alarming noises that might give them a fright while you’re out. Or, if you suddenly have a lot of visitors over at home, the noise and action could unintentionally be overwhelming for your pup, and might cause them to lash out inappropriately. In this case, a crate would provide much needed peace and quiet so the dog does not temporarily become anxious or agitated.
Provides a Sense of Security
Another key advantage of having a designated space for your pet is to offer them a sense of security. Dogs usually form attachments to certain objects or places when kept in them for long enough periods of time, and so providing a permanent shelter like a crate may help them feel more comfortable and secure.
Enhances Bonding Time
Some studies suggest crating can actually have further beneficial effects on owner-dog relationships. One study found that dogs whose owners spent 15 minutes a day performing activities apart from feeding or exercising with their pets, such as cuddling or playing, experienced closer bonds. Crating could potentially be one way to encourage this bond by spending time together during training sessions where the focus is solely on the pup.
Helps With Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety can be challenging to overcome, but crates can be a great tool to use in these cases. The idea behind it is that if owners transition from being physically present to not, the pup will eventually learn to associate the crate as a calming place, not as an object of confinement. This transition process should be conducted gradually and positively, rewarding the pup for every step of the way.
Cons of Crating Your Dog
Though there are many potential advantages to crating, there are quite a few downsides as well. Some people see it as unethical and inhumane, believing the behavior to be rooted in poor treatement or punishment. There are even potential health risks associated with extended crating, due to limited movement and activity levels. In addition, crating a dog may even increase its level of anxiety rather than lowering it.
Prejudices Against Crates (Opposing Views)
Much of the controversy surrounding crating centers around the fact that opponents believe that it denotes an unethical, inhumane treatment of animals. While craters could potentially benefit a pup, it’s important to consider the perception of others who may strongly disagree with the practice.
Potential Health Problems
Perhaps the biggest concern of leaving a pup in a crate without the chance to move around, run or play is that it can lead to health problems. Dogs need and deserve physical and mental stimulation in order to stay healthy and happy, so if you're considering crating your pet, be sure that you give them plenty of opportunity to exercise and express themselves, otherwise you could be negatively affecting your pup’s wellbeing without even realizing it.
Unethical and Inhumane
Some people have a strong opinion that crating is an act of confining an animal against its will and thus should be banned altogether. While this certainly isn't the case, opponents of the practice believe that the act of putting a dog in a cage with no space to move could be interpreted as cruel and inhumane, leading to feelings of abandonment or neglect amongst affected pups.
Could Increase Anxiety
It's been scientifically proven that keeping a pup in a crate for extended hours increases its anxiety levels, which inevitably affects its behavior in the long-term. This can ultimately harm the connection between pup and owner when the tone feels one-sided and oppressive, rather than comforting and caring.
Alternatives to Crating Your Dog
Fortunately, there are ways to maintain wellbeing, security and order in a pup-filled household without confining them to a cage. If crate training is off the table, there's still a range of methods which may prove equally advantageous.
One such alternative is good old-fashioned training. This, however, requires patience and a certain degree of knowledge in order to execute properly. Reward based positive reinforcement has been proven to be highly effective, as it not only encourages repetition of desirable behaviors, but creates a feel-good atmosphere whilst doing it. Practicing basic commands such as “sit” and “stay” can occur anywhere in the house, and is a great way to build a strong bond whilst maintaining control.
Keeping Your Dog in an Outdoor Pen
This is a great way to contain your pup when you’re out and about or short on space indoors. Specifically designed outdoor enclosures allow enough room for pups to move freely, usually including stimulating accessories such as chew toys, balls and so on. Just remember to make sure Fido can’t easily escape should he/she try!
Using a Dog Run
Large properties or areas specifically designed for exercising four-legged friends are known as dog runs. Here, pups can romp undisturbed and enjoy the freedom that comes with open-air adventures. Some dog runs sometimes provide quaint lodges and complexes, perfect place for your pet to rest safely whenever energy levels dwindle.
Since deciding on the best option for controlling your pet can be quite a tricky task, we hope this guide has provided the necessary guidance and clarification. Ultimately, the choice is yours to make, but we understand that taking proper steps to ensure both pet and owner’s satisfaction is not something to be taken lightly or hastily. Once you have made your decision, be sure to stick to it and adapt accordingly. Good luck!