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Is Dog Crate A Safe Space Or A Cruel Cage?

At A Glance

Crate Training is not cruel when associated with a positive experience. It is actually recommended by vets as a technique to manage dog behavior, but should never be used as a punishment.

  • Creating a comfortable and cozy crate gives your dog its personal space, which provides safety and soothes anxiety.
  • Getting your pet used to a crate helps prepare it for when you need to keep it in one while traveling.

Is crate training cruel? What do the experts say?

Veterinarians actually support crate training for dogs as an effective way to help shape their behavior. The semblance of safe borders gives them a sense of security.

Dr. Nina Torres of the Village Veterinarian in NYC recommends it to set boundaries that result in less anxious dogs.

Let’s take an objective look at this dog training tool.

cute dog sleeping in the crate

Not Prison But Protection

Dogs have a natural instinct to go somewhere safe where they can curl up and be at peace. The world can be chaotic for them at times—the noise, adjustments, and various stimuli can overwhelm them. Like us, they also feel the need to find solace somewhere quiet and calming.

What bedrooms mean to us, crates are to them. A leisure space, not a lock-up place they are sent to when they mess up. Their crate, therefore, must be relaxing, not restraining.

Dr. Zay Satchu, Chief Veterinary Officer at Bond Vet in New York City, believes that crates can calm a dog especially when they feel overwhelmed by a big house or stressful environments.

“Owners should be careful not to use it as a form of punishment as this will defeat its purpose”, she cautions.

And it turns out that there’s more to crates than just being your pet’s haven.

 

Benefits Of Crate Training

Crate training provides great physical and psychological effects to your dog. Remember, the key is to make it a positive experience for them, not one that could add to their anxiety or fear.

Assurance Of Protection

Is crate training safe?

Absolutely! It is not only safe when properly done but also creates a feeling of safety for dogs.

Introduce your pet’s crate through positive reinforcement until they learn to relate it with something pleasant. You may start with a treat or a toy.

Get them to trust it first, and to like it next.

The crate must feel like a safety blanket and be your pup’s go-to place to calm itself, sleep, or just laze around in sweet solitary, away from the crowd and chaos. They should consider it their very own place of refuge when feeling threatened or simply need to be still and unbothered.

To ensure your dog’s safety, use a crate made of sturdy material. Some dogs, especially in the early stage of crate training, may chew on or paw the crate and damage it. Flimsy material could collapse and hurt or startle your pet.

Helps Prevent Damage At Home

Is crate training cruel?

It depends on the why and how it’s done.

What’s cruel is to give your dog full reign in the house, only to punish them when they make trouble.

Dogs are typically playful and they love to run around and chew on stuff just because. It seems you cannot take this naught out of the dog, but you can take it somewhere else, like a crate.

Yes, crate training offers this practical convenience as a humane way to deal with your dog when it decides to do some mischief every now and then.

Drawing them to their crate and keeping them there for a few minutes during the day keeps them away from their “chewables” and minimizes damage on your rug, slippers, or breakables.

The key is to make it a preventive approach and not use it as a consequence or punishment for their misbehaving. So, keep them in the crate BEFORE bad behavior, not after.

dog sleeping in the crate

A Personal Space For Your Pet

The crate can also work as the physical space surrounding your dog that is exclusive to them. It’s their very own place where no one else is allowed access, except those with whom they have a mutual bond. Uninvited invasion from others is not appreciated.

Consider it their intimate space or personal space zone.

To achieve that in crate training, make sure that the crate provides your dog with comfort and warmth. Fill it with pillows, blankets, and their favorite toys.

“It is important to keep in mind that the crate should be a safe space for the dog, kind of like your bedroom, or even your bed under the covers. It should never be used as a time-out kind of punishment place, and they should never be locked in there for more than a couple of hours”, reminds dog owner Silvia Rosales of Ontario Canada.

Create a crate that feels like a safe sanctuary, not a detention place.

Calms Anxious Pets

Dogs manifest anxiety in a variety of ways—noise sensitivity, lack of focus and attention, fear of heights, compulsive or aggressive behavior, and separation anxiety.

The most common of these is sensitivity to noises like thunder, fireworks, a gunshot, or loud thumps. Older dogs and some dog breeds like the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Lagotto Romagnolo, and Norwegian Buhund are more prone to this than others.

One good way to ease your dog’s anxiety is through the crate. Once you’ve established it as their exclusive place of rest and safety, it can help ease their feelings when their anxiety starts kicking in.

“When you are delayed getting home the dog simply sleeps in the crate rather than getting anxious and worried, pacing, getting up on your bed and chewing things up”, observes mental health awareness advocate Susan Canaday.

Crate training also prepares your dog on what to do during unsettling events like instances of violence or environmental disasters. “We recommend crate training every dog because you never know what’s going to happen in the future”, says Christine Kroh, Intake Coordinator at Beagles to the Rescue.

a dog inside the crate

Things To Keep In Mind While Crate Training Your Dogs

Build A Positive Experience

Many dog owners are convinced that crate training is advantageous for them, their pets, and their entire household. It can make things more relaxed and less complicated for all.

“Crate training is not cruel if done properly. I am so glad I crate trained. It turned out to be where the dogs would go when they got tired of playing with my two young grandsons”, shares Buliah Mae Thomas, Lead Navigator at the Community Health Center of Springfield, Massachusetts.

Making crate training a light, stress-free, and even cheerful affair can actually better your dog’s life. Consider it their tool in dealing with their environment. They can simply turn to their little nook of sanctuary whenever necessary, and feel just fine.

Brian Rothbart of New Jersey agrees: “Perhaps think of it more like den training. Instead of a jail, the crate is a safe, calm place where the pup can go to relax.”

Do It For The Right Purpose

Crate train your pet to protect, not penalize. Let it come from a place of care and concern rather than as a coercive measure or a negative reinforcement to get them to behave a certain way.

Like potty training, crate training should be done considerately. Otherwise, your dog’s response will likely be of fear, distrust, and resistance.

This is why crate training must be done as early as possible. Having its own “room” is the best way for your pet to feel that it’s part of the family. Waiting too long, and when it has already exhibited negative behavior, will make the crate feel like a punishment.

Observe Acceptable Duration

How long to keep a dog in the crate?

Remember that dogs generally love to run, play, and get moving. Keeping them in their crate for long hours could feel like detention. The discomfort and lack of activity can add to their anxiety.

Even if you provide them with a toy or treat, your dog will begin to feel uneasy and imprisoned when left there for an extended period. Yes, they feel safe and relaxed in their chillout space, but they would want to get back in action out there after some minutes or an hour of hanging loose.

During the day, you can keep the top or door open so they can come and go as they please.

What about evenings? Is crate training at night cruel?

There is a debate on whether or not a dog’s crate should be closed at night and if dogs should be put in a crate at night at all.

The Crate Training Center argues that leaving pet dogs in crates overnight trains them to adapt to night time environments when they are supposed to rest and not disturb the household. This confinement training is recommended only until the dog becomes properly house trained.

They also suggest closing the crate while you sleep to train your dog not to roam around chewing on furniture when unsupervised.

dog crate

Choose The Right Type of Crate

You can select from a variety of crate materials. Just make sure to pick one that is safe, comfortable, and roomy enough for your dog to feel snug and secure. They should be able to move and breathe easily whether placed at home or carried during travel.

The American Veterinary Medical Association requires travel carriers to have ventilation on opposite sides. It must also be large enough for your dog to be able to stand, turn around, and lie down.

Check for these features when shopping for your pet’s crate.

Here are your choices:

Plastic

These are lightweight, portable, and great for both air and road travels. They are also solid and easy to clean. The downside, though, is that they don’t come in collapsible structures, thus requiring ample space for storage.

Soft Sided

Made of fabric covering a rigid frame, these types are lightweight and portable as well. You can also easily fold and store them. Veterinarian Stephanie Austin, Medical Director of Bond Vet, suggests these only for temporary purposes. They’re not easy to clean and maintain, easy to chew on or paw at and then slip from, and not sturdy enough for long-term use.

Metal

This is the sturdiest of all types, ideal for long-term crating. It comes with bars with spaces in between, making it more airy and allowing your dog to be seen at all times.

Metal crates can also be folded for easy storage, and even modified by adding dividers and platforms.

Pick The Right Crate Size

Crates should match your dog’s height, length, and width when it sits or stands. It must also be spacious enough to allow some activity.

Before purchasing one, measure your dog’s length precisely while standing. Start from the tip of its nose and go all the way to its tail’s endpoint. Then, add up to 4 inches to get the ideal crate length.

For height, let your dog sit and measure from the floor to the top of its head. Add up to 4 inches as well.

A dog crates’ width is based on its length and height, so no need for you to measure that.

One final item: check the crate’s weight limit for safe lugging when you travel with your dog.

a corgi dog inside the crate

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Crate Training For Dogs of All Ages?

Yes, though most veterinarians and professional trainers recommend starting them young. Crate training a puppy actually taps on their natural need for a safe den.

Can I Crate Train My Dog For Traveling?

Definitely! Airlines and other travel modes actually require dogs to be in secure crates in transit.

How Long Can I Keep My Dog In The Crate?

It depends on their age. According to the Humane Society of The United States, puppies under six months should not be kept in a crate beyond four hours as they cannot hold their bladder that long. This also applies to adult dogs that are still being house trained.

Adult and senior dogs can be kept in a crate overnight if they can afford to not urinate for that duration. But they should not be kept beyond six hours in a crate during the day. Dogs are highly social and staying isolated longer than that will make them anxious.

Which Type Of Dogs Can Be Crate Trained?

Crate training is beneficial for all breeds and its success depends more on the dog’s age, history, and temperament. Some are adaptable while others can be challenging. Those easy to crate-train are the Border Collie, Bichon Frise, Golden Retriever, Boston Terrier, German Shepherd, and Brittany.

a cute dog sleeping peacefully in the crate

Still on the fence about this and continue to wonder, “is crate training cruel?”

Here’s my take: There is nothing cruel about letting dogs be dogs in their natural state. They yearn for a safe space and it’s our responsibility to give it to them.

Crate training is a mutually beneficial thing for dogs and their owners. It is not meant to isolate them but to make them feel right at home—by giving them their own room in the house!

To amplify a message from “A Pet Owners Guide To The Dog Crate”, your dog comes from den dwelling ancestors and relatives who find safety and joy in being in their own secure, sweet spot.

Contrary to common misconception, dogs are not afraid or frustrated when closed in. Spending time in a crate is not alienating for them. They love it when their life is regulated by humans and prefer being taught prevention over punishment. Your pet will feel safer and cared for that way.

General crate training dog crate is crate training cruel

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Paul Andrews
https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-andrews-172490189/

A digital marketing expert by profession, Andrews is a gifted writer and animal lover at heart. A self-confessed "pawrent", Andrews is well-versed in all things dogs. He uses his years of experience of raising puppies into show-quality dogs to help guide first-time pet parents. He believes in spreading the joy that comes with being a dog dad and advocates more families to adopt pets.