If you honestly don’t believe putting your dog in what is essentially a prison, leaving them for prolonged periods of time, and expecting them to understand that it’s for their benefit – is cruel…
Then you’d be absolutely RIGHT.
Almost daily, I see a comment from ‘Shirley’ on Facebook. Shirley is 58, retired, has a Cavapoochon (typically her first ever dog), and gets to spend all day – every day with him. She loves nothing more than to brow beat other owners for crate training because her dog ‘always has free roam of the house and she’s never had any issues.’ What Shirley doesn’t understand is that not everybody has the same circumstances, dog or life that she has.
I see too many owners with this preconceived notion that those who choose to crate train do so because they can’t be bothered with their dogs, are cruel, or they don’t treat their dogs like a member of the family (yet it’s no different to the way we put babies in cots to prevent them from harm or injury). This couldn’t be further from the truth and is simply a straw man fallacy.
The key is in the term ‘Crate Training’. Like any other form of training, we’re simply exposing a dog to a new behaviour or environment (using food and play) at a rate that is most comfortable to them. The end result is the dog views a crate as nothing more than a comfortable bed. Even if you don’t intend on using a crate in the future, training your dog to be comfortable in one should be an important part of your training regime, particularly with a puppy, for any one of the many reasons listed below:
1. Excellent environment to sleep in.
2. Safe environment to be transported in.
3. Safe place from busy family environment.
4. Great for toilet training young dogs.
5. Allows dogs to rest during injury or exhaustion.
6. Keep puppies out of harms way.
7. Encourages dogs to settle.
8. Dogs are den animals and prefer ‘confined’ spaces.
9. Dogs are crated when staying overnight at vets.
10. Groomers use crates to house dogs between grooms.
11. Useful in multi-dog households when they require individual space.
12. Dog may need to be quarantined in a crate when going abroad.
13. Crates are typically used in daycare and dog walking environments.
14. Great tool for training anxious dogs or dogs with separation anxiety.
15. Reduce the opportunity for destructive dogs to practice behaviour.
I think we can all agree that a crate should never be used if the dog hasn’t been properly conditioned to it already. It also shouldn’t be used as a prison for bad behaviour, or an excuse to not provide the physical and mental stimulation all dogs require to lead happy and fulfilling lives – No brainer.
To those who say that crate training is cruel, either you know more about dogs and dog behaviour than those of us trainers, behaviourists, groomers, dog handlers, vets, boarders, police, training accreditors, search and rescue workers, walkers, daycare helpers and working dog handlers. Or, it’s simply just your personal opinion and is not based in any fact. There’s some real cruelty in the world; let’s not conflate training a dog to sleep somewhere with that.