Can anyone explain how crating dogs isn't cruel?

(216 Posts)
DalaHorse Fri 03-May-13 13:10:35

I am not trying to be controversial. I am genuinely shocked by the crating "trend". I am aware that lots of people do this. But I cannot understand how locking the dog in a crate is at all fair or beneficial to the dog. I can however see how locking the dog in a crate is very beneficial to the owner. Is there any justification in terms of it being beneficial to dogs that I really can't see?

Willowisp Fri 03-May-13 16:00:20

My dog has a crate...probably because it seemed the 'must have acessory' & we have a cat & I was afraid our new dog (a rescue) might eat or attack over night.

I think from about 6 mths of having her i left the door open & sometimes she sleeps in it, some time she sleeps in the lounge in another bed or on the sofa.

I wonder if people crate their dog because they don't have enough control or their dog isn't walked or exercised enough ? I realize I'm not a dog, but I'd hate to be confirmed to a small space for a number of hrs. Our dog is always moving from one 'resting' place to another.

Bunnylion Fri 03-May-13 16:33:26

verysmallsqueak agreed, 10 years time it'll be seen as archaic.

I hear all the "dogs naturally like dens/caves/small hiding places" but none of these have locking doors that they have no control over.

Ill loose a few friends here but IMHO, if I crated a toddler every day he'd eventually get used to it and I'm sure he would also see it as his "safe place" eventually.

toboldlygo Fri 03-May-13 16:35:12

Crates have the potential for abuse, certainly, but so do many other tools used in the dog world. I could write a ranty essay on the use of headcollars, for example.

Used well I think they are an invaluable tool. They are essentially a dog bed but with a more physical presence that means they can't be invaded by other dogs, marauding children, visiting strangers etc. and represent a safe, den-like, relaxing space.

I don't approve of dogs being locked in for long periods and indeed the door on our crate hasn't been shut in years. It's just useful for those rare times when we have a workman in or an unexpected visitor who may not appreciate loose dogs being around (again, doesn't happen often but for example the last person who came to read our gas meter was an asian chap who was clearly very scared of dogs.) Otherwise it's just a big comfy dog bed.

One of mine had orthopaedic surgery recently and I was so glad that she was used to spending time in a crate. It meant that she felt secure and relaxed when recovering at the vets and when we brought her home she made a beeline for her crate and stayed there of her own volition, door open. It made the recovery period so much easier.

We travel a lot for the dog sport stuff we do and again it's invaluable to be able to pop them in the crate in the car and know that wherever we are they will chill out and recharge despite all the crazy stuff going on around them because the crate automatically = quiet safe restful sleep time.

Locking dogs in a crate because you work full time, the dog isn't getting enough exercise and trashes the house while you're out? Not so much.

moosemama Fri 03-May-13 16:45:37

Our boy had a crate as a pup, purely because that's what he'd been used to in his foster home. We never shut it, it was just his den/bed/safe place.

All three dogs used to compete to get in there first and we'd often find at least two, if not three of them all squished in together.

Eventually I got fed up of snagging my jumpers etc on the corner of it every time I tried to get past into the laundry and replaced it with a big comfy bed. He was mightily unimpressed.

He likes his bed well enough, but when we got the crate out to use when one of our other dogs needed to be immobilised after an operation he spent the whole time trying to work out wily ways of ousting her and getting in there himself.

We have two dog beds in the kitchen, one just in the corner and the other under the table, surrounded by chairs. All our dogs have preferred the one under the table, I assume because it feels more den-line, just like the crate.

We still have his crate. but just use it in the car these days and he always jumps in really enthusiastically. We also have a collapsible crate to take on holiday with us and despite the family dogs having their own 'doggie sofa' he still chooses to sleep in the crate.

I think it's like many things relating to dog care. If used correctly it can be a useful and positive thing for both dog and owner - dog feels safe and owner knows they have somewhere safe to put the dog if/when the need arises. However, it is very easy to either misunderstand appropriate and positive use and/or to abuse it's usage, either of which are likely to be detrimental to the dog.

moosemama Fri 03-May-13 16:48:18

Crossposted with toboldygo.

LegoAcupuncture Fri 03-May-13 16:53:09

Our pup has a crate, we leave the door open for her during the day when we are in and she happily goes in and out of it. Sometimes she will sleep there, sometimes she will sleep on the sofa. She has never messed in there and I like to keep her safe when we are out or in bed.

Hoping that when she is older we won't need to crate her and she will have free roam of the house. But for now while she is still chewing, crate it is.

A big enough crate is no different to shutting a dog on it's own somewhere that he/ she can't get into trouble when they have to be left alone.
We tried to crate our lurcher but she hated it and we eventually gave up. Our 9 month old GSD loved his from the get go and puts himself away when we are getting ready to go on the school run, or last thing at night.
He never cries to get out and is only ever shut in for an hour or so after a good walk, with a stuffed kong to amuse him.
I think most dogs take to crating given the chance when young, but there will always be some it doesn't suit.

I can only go by the results with ddog1 - not a huge statistical sample (though she is a labrador, so would like to be a huge statistical sample, if we fed her as much as she wants) - and she has grown up into a loving, happy, well adjusted, friendly dog.

She doesn't seem to have any fear around the area where the cage used to be, or over elimination, and if crate training is so pernicious and evil, she seems somehow to have avoided being harmed by it.

littlewhitebag Fri 03-May-13 17:28:14

We have crate trained our lab pup (she is almost one now). She loves her crate and we hardly ever need to lock it. Only if i really need to keep her contained for her own safety. I still shut it at night and she seems perfectly happy with that. She is slumbering in it right now of her own volition. I am going to do the school run in a few minutes so i will lock the door for the 30 minutes i am away. I can guarantee when i return she will hardly stir even when i unlock it.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 03-May-13 17:50:57

One benefit of crate training is that if your dog is really unwell and has to be hospitalised they will cope much better in the vets if they are used to a crate. Whilst our kennels are bigger than crates they are not massive as when the dog is on a drip they need to be confined to stop them from pulling out.
Interestingly though actually often it is the owners who struggle most with this. We had a very sick dog the other week whose owners whenever they visited griped about the fact he needed to be caged. However, he settled really well and seemed to enjoy watching all that went on around him.

DalaHorse Fri 03-May-13 17:51:01

I only really understand the use of a crate if the dog happily goes in voluntarily and the door is left unlocked, or there is no door. ie the crate (what is the difference between a crate and a cage?) confused is no more than a dog basket with roof.

I don't see why dogs have to be locked in at night? Why lock them in? What will they do if they aren't locked in? confused Why do they need containing for their own safety?

It feels like the dogs are being "tidied away". instead of being allowed to be living creatures who should deserve to get up and walk whenever they want. I don't remember people having a massive problem with dogs before crates came along. I don't think crates have solved problems, just made dogs more like ornaments to be put away. which isn't what having a dog is about, part and parcel is the fact they will want to walk and move around.

mrslaughan Fri 03-May-13 17:52:37

We use a crate and see it as the modern equivalent of a kennel.
Giant dog, sleeps in it at night - would he prefer his bed in the kitchen - yes. But given his penchant for eating unsuitable things while un- supervised....well it is the safest thing for him.
During the day, he is only in it about once a fortnight as I manage to organise myself so he he is with me.

ExcuseTypos Fri 03-May-13 18:02:56

I don't use one.

I know 3 people who do and they all lock their dogs in them, I think that's cruel.

Two do it over night, my next door neighbour also does it when she goes out during the day.

She once asked me to go round and let the dog out for a wee as she was going out all day. The poor dog didn't have any water in the cage-angry and the dog was in a very hot kitchen(due to Aga)

Do I just know stupid people are do most owners lock their dogs in?

DalaHorse Fri 03-May-13 18:03:46

Lonecat in my experience, when animals are sick they don't generally care where they are. When they are recovering they might be a bit fed up if they are in a cage at the vet's but that's as much to do with not being at home as being confined, and unless they have a terrible injury, it's short term. Also I can't see that years of crate "training" (use) is justified simply in the event that the dog might need to be contained in a cage at the vets one day. (Not having a go, just saying).

FiveHoursSleep (love the name btw!) why do you shut your dog in after a good walk? why does he need shutting in? I understand if he wants a lie down and a nice treat but why have a door on the crate which makes it a locked cage instead of a no-door crate which makes it a covered dog bed that he could leave at will? (also not having a go, just curious)

Well - we used it as a stage in ddog1's life - mainly whilst she was growing out of the chewing phase, and to keep her safe when we went out leaving her home alone (which didn't happen often or for long periods).

She's now more mature (as mature as a brown lab gets), and is fine in a bed rather than the crate. We do still shut the dogs (we also have a lab cross, but as she was an adult when we got her, we didnt use the cage) out of some parts of the house when we are out or at night, mainly because we don't want them sleeping on the couches when we are not there - they are allowed on them when they are with a person, but not on their own, and we are sure ddog2 in particular, believes the front room and the best couch are hers, so we shut them out to show her that they aren't.

Marne Fri 03-May-13 18:11:39

bunnylion - so you wouldn't crate a baby/toddler? what about when you put a child in a playpen or in a cot?

I crate my pup to keep him safe, the same as I put my child in a playpen to keep them safe smile.

toboldlygo Fri 03-May-13 18:14:08

I don't necessarily agree with dogs being locked in overnight either, with the exception of puppies undergoing house training (and with the understanding that they'd be taken out at regular intervals throughout the night in order to go to the loo) and a few other similar issues.

And yes, the way we use it as as a dog basket with a roof. The crate door is handy if we ever have visitors or tradesmen in that mean that the house doors might be left open for a while, or the visitors are of a kind that it would not be appropriate to cover in dog hair (letting agent, gas man, plumber etc.)

The problem is that dogs don't just want to move and walk around, they want to run around the house chewing things that are valuable to the human or harmful to the dog, peeing on the carpet, eating a hole in the sofa and raiding the kitchen cupboards for bleach bottles to gnaw. For the vast majority this is a transient phase that can be hugely eased by using a crate for short periods when the dog cannot be supervised. This may be overnight for puppies and rescue dogs who may react unpredictably in a new home. Many dogs don't have this stage at all, some have a bloody horrible phase that I dare say could only be managed by crating/kennelling (thinking high drive working bred dogs).

And cage/crate are of course interchangeable terms. We actually refer to it as the dog box, the command to go to their bed is 'inyerbox'. grin

DalaHorse Fri 03-May-13 18:15:30

SDTG I totally understand limiting the rooms in a house that the dog has access to at night. If they have one room of the house that's fine. As long as they can get up and walk around a space should they choose to. That's where I struggle to feel that crates are justified - that a dog is physically restrained from walking. I feel claustrophobic just picturing that.

WishIdbeenatigermum Fri 03-May-13 18:19:16

I'd never thought if them as dens before. Pointy hound was hyper vigilant and stressed when we first got her. I'd put her on the crate when I went out and she'd 'switch off'- often not noticing when I got home. Never used it over night and not used it for years now, she's calmed down a lot with age.

Cloverer Fri 03-May-13 18:22:50

Surely people do crate their toddlers every day? They put them in a cot overnight and for nap times, often they put them in a cot or playpen if they have to answer the door or have a shower. I know lots of people who would crate playpen/cot either the baby or toddler when they left the room so the toddler couldn't maul the baby grin

I also don't see a huge difference between a crate with a bed in it or a utility room with a bed in it, which seems to be a common place to leave a dog overnight or while the owner is out.

LtEveDallas Fri 03-May-13 18:33:30

I don't see why dogs have to be locked in at night? Why lock them in? What will they do if they aren't locked in? Why do they need containing for their own safety?

MuttDog has never been crated, but did have a soft 'travel crate' as a pup to keep her safe in the car - she liked it (until she ate it hmm)

However, the night that she electrocuted herself by chewing the wires of the plugged in bedside lamp, necessitating a midnight rush to the vets and a near fire when DH discovered (after I'd left) that the wires had burned a hole in the carpet as well as almost killing Mutt - I wished I had crated her sad.

3 years on from then and I looked after my friends pup overnight whilst she was out. 2 days later I discovered that HeinzPup had chewed through my hair dryer wires - but thankfully courtesy of our near disaster I'm now anal about unplugging things.

I've come to think that crates overnight are a very good idea at the puppy stage and will probably do it if/when we get our new pup.

I am crating our puppy at night as he is sleeping in the same room as our older dog. Crated, I know that the dogs are both safe while I can't supervise them. He's also absolutely tiny, and adventurous. I crate him if I have to pop out, or upstairs, just to be sure he doesn't kill himself. He is quite happy in there with his cheese filled kong for 15 minutes, and settles to sleep in there voluntarily at around 10pm.

DalaHorse Fri 03-May-13 18:37:54

Cloverer it's not a comparison IMO.

Young toddlers could seriously injure themselves or die if they are able to get out of their beds at night before they have the balance to walk safely, or the sense not to go to the bathroom and turn the hot taps on/try to climb the furniture that could fall and kill them etc. So cots (and some limited playpen use) is truly is for their own safety whereas most dog crating is for the owner's convenience (so they don't chew the sofa or make puddles).

Cloverer Fri 03-May-13 18:44:49

Someone just posted about their dog electrocuting themselves Dala.

If my toddler was likely to chew the sofa I would crate him too.

Marne Fri 03-May-13 18:51:17

exactly, a puppy could chew wires or eat something that could harm it so its safer to be crated surely?

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