In Defense of the Crate

I admit, when I first read this post on A.G. Out Loud, I got a little defensive. My shoulders tensed, my back curved –  just like my cat when Shiva gets too pushy.  By the time I finished reading, I felt so uncomfortable that I just got mad. A million scathing sentences filled my head and my fingers twitched, dying to type an over-emotional response on my blog. Instead, I closed my laptop and walked my dog in the pouring rain. A smart decision, no doubt. Now that a few days have passed and I have gotten over my instinctive reactions, I feel I can address the issue with a modicum of intelligence. Truthfully, I have been meaning to write a post on this very topic for a long time. I should thank Anne for forcing me to do it.

Full confession: Shiva goes in her crate every time we have to leave her alone in the house.

Up until about six months ago, I never ever felt good about doing this. In fact, I felt like total crap. From day one, an awful feeling would lodge at the bottom of my stomach and sit there until I got home again. Even though my trainer told us it was actually helping her, even though I knew it was the only way, I felt like the worst dog owner in the world every single time. A large part of my defensiveness about the aforementioned post comes from all that guilt. Obviously I haven’t gotten over it all yet. I probably never will.

Shiva has separation anxiety. It’s better now, but it isn’t cured. I have hope as she gets older it will fade even more. Separation anxiety is very common in shelter dogs. I wish I had known that before. Shiva’s difficulties at being left alone, even for five minutes, appeared almost immediately. I’ll never forget that first morning when I fed her breakfast. I put the bowl down in front of her and then headed into the kitchen to wash some dishes. Shiva couldn’t see me from where she was in the living room so she would grab a mouthful of food, run into the kitchen to make sure I was still there, run back to grab more food, run back to the kitchen, over and over until she was done. Knowing now how hard it is for her to walk away from even one piece of kibble, I think it illustrates just how freaked out she was at the possibility of being alone. She was even willing to leave a bowl full of food.

Shiva’s anxiety has absolutely been the most stressful thing to deal with out of all her issues. Far worse even than her human reactivity. Not only did it prevent us from ever leaving the house, but it was dangerous. So many times we experimented with leaving her out of her crate. We learned she could get into the garbage bin so we moved that into the office and closed the door. We learned she could get into the bathroom cupboard so we closed that door as well. We put up a baby gate between the two floors of our house so she couldn’t get downstairs. We made sure there was nothing left, not even a tea towel, on the kitchen counters. We apologized to our neighbours and brought them copious amounts of wine in hopes they wouldn’t complain about her whining to our landlords. Short of medication, we tried everything our trainer recommended to help fix the problem. She told us it would take time, years even.

We felt utterly helpless.

Two years, ten pairs of shoes, too many books, a couple of containers of fish food, a package of toilet paper, a blanket, a lighter, and who knows what else (I have forgotten most of it), later we have finally come to the conclusion that when we are gone, Shiva actually prefers to be in her crate. With a well-stuffed Kong, a bowl of fresh water, and a favoured bone, Shiva feels secure. She knows she has one job to do and finally trusts that we will return home. As far as I know, Shiva hasn’t whined or howled for months. She is even calm when we return home. Often she is more interested in her Kong than she is in us. We have finally hit on the right combination. I am really, really reluctant to mess with the formula.

Routine is also key. We usually try to leave and return at the same times every day. She still has difficulty if we have to leave at an unusual time, say we want to go out for dinner on a Saturday night. Often those times we will return home to see her blanket shoved into a corner of the crate and Shiva standing up, staring at us. I try very hard not to feel guilty because I know the only way she will ever get better is if we leave her. Turning down all invitations, which is what we did for the first year and a half, isn’t helping her feel less anxious. It’s just making it harder for the one time we have to go out. I’ve finally learned this now and accepted it.

It doesn’t mean I enjoy it. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about my dog.

I try to think of how far we have come in two years. Hopefully in two more years Shiva will be comfortable enough to hang out in the house without the confining space of her crate. Hopefully by then we won’t have to worry about her eating something that could potentially kill her in the hours we are gone. In the meantime, I can’t look at her crate as something awful any more. That wasn’t helping. I have no doubt she sensed my extreme dislike of the situation and that added to her stress. Now that I have relaxed a little, I think she has as well. No, this isn’t ideal and it certainly isn’t what I had in mind when I got a dog, but it is unfortunately necessary.

I have to believe if we stay on this track maybe one day it won’t be.

51 thoughts on “In Defense of the Crate

  1. So I read the original post and it pushed my buttons too– for different reasons. No one is a perfect dog owner, because no one is a perfect person. The subtle message I hear on many rescue postings is, “Everyone should get a rescue dog, they get a bad rap but really, honestly make perfect pets, but ONLY GET A DOG if you’re prepared to give up your job if necessary and cater to all its emotional needs and pay for a trainer and never use punitive corrective measures and feed it the highest-quality dog food (raw feeding is better) and generally put the dog ahead of everything else in your life.”

    According to these people, my dog is better off euthanised by a shelter than living with me. Shall we get his opinion on the matter?

    Every dog is different. Shiva needs her crate. Perhaps the dog Anne writes about would be better off without, perhaps not. “Abuse” is a strong word, and one I see used in all sorts of circumstances by dog bloggers when people use training or corrective measures they don’t agree with. I won’t comment on Anne’s blog, but I will back you up to the teeth in your response to it.

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    • Right. I mean, in a perfect world, the only people who would own dogs would be those who work from home and have millions of dollars to lavish on their pets. Personally, I would love to do both of those things myself if I could.

      I am not putting this all on the writer of the article. I don’t think she meant to hit a nerve. It’s not really her but a few others I have spoken with over the last couple years who’ve made similar comments without thinking. No, I don’t feed raw. I can’t afford to. Honestly, I’d rather someone feed no-name kibble than nothing at all. I’d rather crate my dog than tie her up outside all day. Which is worse?

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am glad I wrote about it now.

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  2. Oh, boy. I just read that post, and – while I think she meant well – it comes across all wrong. As she quoted from the BFAS site, a dog shouldn’t live in a crate full time. But as a management strategy to keep your dog safe and comfortable when you’re not home? In my mind, that makes perfect sense, and it shows that you’re taking care of your specific dog’s specific needs. And, btw, LOVE the new design!!

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  3. The related article wouldn’t load for me, but I will keep trying.

    I have to admit I felt the same way you did when we first got Sampson. I had never heard of crate training until then, all of our dogs had always just been there. What I hated most was that he spent 9 hours in during the day and then he had to spend the hours at night while we were sleeping. I even coaxed mom into letting him out and giving him a break during the day. I was so freaked about it that I would actually sleep on the couch until about midnight and then crate him; Chet would get up at 3:30 or 4:00 and then he would come to bed with me. Once Sampson was housebroken then he only went in the crate at night and eventually I even stopped that.

    When we started the adoption process with Delilah the group we worked with just about insisted on crate training. It works very well for Delilah; she feels safe in there and that is the most important thing especially for a rescue/shelter dog. Surprisingly for a rescue dog, Delilah does not seem to have separation anxiety and for that I am truly grateful; don’t get me wrong she didn’t come without issues! We have had her almost 4 years now and she has come so far, she truly is an amazing dog.

    The problem I have with crate training is when people abuse it and keep the dog in the crate way more than they should. Or they use the crate because they are too lazy to train or exercise their dogs. I knew someone like that, the dog was always in the crate because he didn’t know how to behave; but he didn’t know how to behave because he was always in the crate and they didn’t work with him.

    What happens if you put Shiva in the crate but don’t shut the door? Does she come out, or does she still stay in there? Is that something you could try for say 1/2 an hour or so to see what she does?

    You are a responsible dog owner, it is obvious you love Shiva and want what is best for her, I hope you can put some of your guilt away and know that Shiva NEEDS the crate and is quite content there. In the wild she would be in a cave. 🙂

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    • If I don’t shut the door she absolutely will come out. Sometimes if we forget to latch both top and bottom she is able to scratch her way out. We still “test” her every now and then but the last time we left her out, for just half an hour she was able to break into the office and grabbed several things out of the garbage.

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  4. We have always used a crate with George and I don’t feel at all bad about it. We made it a cozy, comfortable place from day one, and as a puppy George loved to retreat in his little den for a snooze or a bit of quiet. We never locked the gate when we were all around, and he got in and out as he pleased. For the first 2 years we locked him in his crate when we went out and left him at home on his own. This was always for up to 3 hours, and whenever returned we found him just lying in there looking lazy (we’re lucky that he’s never suffered from separation anxiety). Now that he’s bigger and we can trust that he won’t chew anything, we still put the crate up (it’s a sign for him that we’re going out – he likes to know what happens) and he goes in straight away, but we don’t lock the gate anymore. We still return within 4 hours, but we like to know that he’s got a bit more freedom and can get out if he wants to. However, he’s hardly ever out of his crate when we return, as he likes it in there. In actual fact, if we return ‘too soon’ (i.e. within a an hour or so), he looks at us like we’ve disturbed him, comes to welcome us and then goes back in his crate to finish his sleep. Funny boy, he is.

    I know some people crate their dogs at night, too. We don’t do that (George sleeps with us), mainly because whippets don’t like to sleep on their own. We would, potentially, consider it if we had more than one dog.

    Bottom line is, don’t feel guilty about the crate, as you said, Shiva probably prefers it, as she’s got a ‘safe’ place to wait for you. I don’t know many people who put as much effort into their dogs as you do, so Shiva’s lucky to have a super-mum like you 🙂

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  5. Congrats on coming so far with your girl. I am a firm believer in crates. Bothf or puppies and in my case older dogs too. For me it brings peace of mind that there is no way they can get into something and me not know about it. For this reason I still crate at night too. I know our dogs would love to sleep in our bed, but it’s just that… ours and I am a light sleeper so I would not get much sleep if they were to share the bed with us. Luna is allowed to nap with my husband during the day, and will get some cuddle time but then we get up and put her in her crate for the night. I live where I work so I’m in and out of the house all day. But I have had to go back to crating Luna (she’s even 3!) if I’m busy for more than a couple hours because she will check my waste baskets. Rather than let her continue that habit (which I had broken, and had been reintroduced with our puppy) I simply crate her.

    I think many dogs benefit from a properly sized crate. It gives security, peace of mind, and safety. There is no problem with crating your dog if you give them exercise before and after they are crated so they have ample time to eliminate and mentally are tired. Because I have stuck to that my dogs are fantastic in their crates. And if we are home they usually are hanging out with us. Neither go and lay in their crate on their own but willingly go in on their own when asked.

    Every dog and situation is different. You have to trust that you know your dog best, and just take a look at your progress! I really feel that crating eliminates worry in some dogs, they can’t go check the windows for you or pace etc. For most it really allows them to relax if it’s used in the proper way. So try not to feel guilty, your dog has a better life than most, because you are not only loving her heart but her brain too!
    Anna
    http://www.akginspiration.com

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    • Exactly, every situation is very different. I guess I can be a little over-sensitive to criticism and see it as directed towards me when it really isn’t.

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  6. I get really upset by people who try to make others feel bad for crate training. In an ideal world, sure every dog would have free roam of the house and their humans would be with them 20+ hours each day. But that’s not realistic. I agree that some people use crating as an excuse to ignore their dogs or abuse the practice of crating – but in general, crate training is perfectly fine and even preferable when a dog’s safety or health is in question.

    Volunteering I see families all the time who don’t want to crate their newly adopted dog because it’s “not nice to lock up a family member.” Almost inevitably though they end up returning the dog to the rescue because they can’t behave when alone in a new place all day long. Which is meaner: Crating a dog so he can stay in his forever home or abandoning him because he chews up your sofa while you’re at work?

    At my house we’ve crate trained each of our dogs and they’ve “graduated” to being left out each day, but it took a long time to get them to that point and if it had never happened that would have been fine. There’s no question that you’re an amazing dog owner. It’s obvious by what you’ve done with Shiva that you’re both devoted to one another. Don’t let anyone get you worked up thinking otherwise.

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    • Congratulations on your dogs’ graduations! I hope we’ll be able to get there one day too. That’s pretty huge.

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  7. Don’t ever feel bad about crate training! It’s an essential tool for most dog owners. We have crate trained both of our girls and are now starting the process with our new puppy. We crated the girls every week day for the first several years. Maggie has had incontinence issues, which combined with a love of getting up on couches and beds while we were gone, was a recipe for disaster. The key is to kennel train right – feed them in their crates, ensure they have quiet time in the crate when you are there so that they don’t associate it with you being gone and do everything to make it a happy, secure place. The girls, especially Sadie, love their kennels. While I have reached the point with them that they no longer need to remain in their kennels during the day, we still have one set up at all times so that they have the option to sleep the day away in the kennel. Sadie takes advantage of it all the time!

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  8. Great post, Kristine! “Knowing” you and how much time and effort you spend in exercising Shiva, training her, and finding physical and mental outlets for her awesome stores of energy, I don’t blame you for feeling defensive. The problem with posts like the one you referenced (I read it) is that they don’t take into account individual circumstances. A dog that spends the length of a workday in a kennel and then the people come home and proceed to go about the business of their evening without taking into account that the dog has been crated all day (as seems to be the case with the person Ann was talking about) is a vastly different scenario from Shiva’s. Sure, she may spend the day in her crate, but she is being exercised twice a day, she’s participating in training exercises, dog sports, etc. And personally, I would far rather that she, or any dog with her specific set of issues and limitations, spend the day happily, contentedly, and SAFELY worrying a Kong than getting into who knows what. Personally, I would find it irresponsible and cruel to know that a dog has issues like Shiva’s, and to know full well that those issues might get her into trouble and even cause harm to her (ingesting something toxic or that would cause an impaction), and leave her at liberty out of some misplaced idea that it would be cruel to confine her. You are doing what you need to do to keep Shiva safe, not just physically, but emotionally. Dogs need boundaries. They need to know when they are “off the clock.” It’s true that a crate can be an instrument of either intended or unintended abuse, but so can an X-pen. So, in fact, can an entire house, if the dog is left there for hours and hours on end with no opportunity before or after the confinement for exercise or socialization. Blanket statements like the one that the other blogger was making just don’t work for me. Life is not black and white, and certainly dogs, not to mention their owners, are not.

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    • Very true. Generalizations are very rarely ever accurate. That’s why I try very hard to never make them and never judge someone else’s behaviour until I know the entire story from all points of view.

      Thanks for making me feel a little better.

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  9. Oh, I feel like coming over and hugging you! Having a blog has been amazing, but I sometimes get some unwarranted advice. So Im gonna tell you what I always tell myself “our differences make the world go round.” Havi loves her crate. Seriously, she goes there for her food and associates it with nap time. She lived with us for two weeks and after a year of homelessness was so destructive, that we got her the crate. Now we moved into a much smaller place and we’re starting to wean her off it. Not because its a “cage” but because it just takes up too much room. Shiva is such an amazing dog, we LOVE following your blog, as you know. There are few people who could raise her as you have, with such patience. Dogs are not humans, they like their crates. You would never hurt Shiva, don’t defend yourself 🙂

    Can’t wait for this week’s posts!

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  10. both our dogs were in love with their crates when they came to us – they’d go into their crates on their own just to relax. so I used to feel REALLY BAD about leaving them crated when I was at work, and then again all night, but they do seem to like them. and two months later, we trust them enough at night that we no longer crate them, but half the time they’re in there when I wake up in the morning. it’s been easier to let go of the guilt when they seem happy.

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    • Right, which is why I have tried to feel better about it lately. I’ve said before that I refuse to feel guilty any longer but perhaps that’s not quite true.

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  11. Safety, first, above all else. Stumpy is safest in her kennel, when I can’t be home. If she could speak, she would tell anyone who asked. but we don’t have to ask just observe. When Stumpy, or any dog that has been properly crateed, feels threatened the crate is where they go.

    I haven’t read the blog post to which you referred. don’t know if I will. I just hope the venom isn’t spread to inexperienced dog owners. A whole lot of dogs will end up back in the shelter.

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  12. Love the new design!

    I hated having to crate Daisy so much when I first got her. I had so much trouble with her house training! Not to mention my apartment was so small dog proofing just couldn’t happen! I was accused of dog abuse by some online dog people. Yeah, super fun. (not)

    Daisy loves her crate though. She goes in there to nap during the day, and puts herself to bed around 7:30. If allowed to chose between the small crate (which is supposed to be Bella’s) and the large one-she chooses the small one. I left the hall closet open after I went to bed this week and Daisy (who couldn’t even turn around in it) slept there all night by choice.

    Given that she doesn’t mind the crate, and seems to enjoy it even, I don’ feel bad if I have to leave her in it anymore. Of course, once we got the “don’t pee in the house” thing down, she was allowed out more. And, in the new place it has been easy to dog proof and she just sleeps in the crate when she wants to (mostly at night, but naps still happen in there sometimes).

    If Shiva feels best in her crate, I wouldn’t argue with her! Who cares what some article said? Plus, unlike the dog in the article you are out and about with her. The owner in the article apparently crated all day and didn’t even walk her dog.

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    • That’s interesting that Daisy would choose the smaller space. I guess it just seems cozier!

      I probably took it all too personally, as usual. 😛

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  13. I never used a crate – it never occured to me when we got our dogs – Then we adopted Nicki – and his behavior was the result on crate training gone wrong. However, I have seen how crate training worked for Roach – he still prefers to go there when home alone – and ken leaves the door open – and I have seen the positive changes in Shiva – she is a different dog in the 8 months between visits. I believe you need to be confident that the person who knows what is best for your dog is you. You can read or recieve all the advise in the world – but in the end – what you have done with Shiva has been right – and anyone who wants to critisize you – hasn’t walked a mile in your chewed up shoes. They can just stuff it

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  14. Love the new design! I haven’t read the link yet but will do so shortly. Sophie is the first dog I have crate trained. And I can say, I will never not crate train a dog again. The crate has been her secure den but also my sanity when she was younger and I needed a break.

    Now at 3yrs of age, we rarely make her go in her crate, but she chooses to sleep in there of her own accord quite often.

    I know for my friend it has been a lifesaver. Without the crate her lab would end up needing an obstruction surgery. She can go to work knowing her lab is safe and relaxed waiting for her to come home.

    The crate is like any other training tool, if used correctly it will be great for most dogs. If abused (ie sticking a dog in there all day long with no exercise ever) then yes it can be cruel.

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    • I am glad you like it. It still needs a bit of work but I am happy so far! Definitely needed a change!

      I am glad your friend was able to prevent such a disaster! Yikes. Dogs definitely keep us guessing. It’s never easy, is it?

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  15. Thanks for writing so honestly about this topic. I think it will help someone reading it.

    When I adopted Agatha and Christie twenty years ago, I thought crates were cruel. And I hated the idea of separating the two from each other. Just goes to show how much I had to learn.

    Agatha was probably the one with the separation anxiety which she passed on to Christie. If I had been willing to crate them separately, or even crate Agatha while giving Christie more freedom, I probably would have had more secure dogs.

    Shadow didn’t need crating at all. With Honey, it’s available when needed which is basically to give her a secure place to sleep at night.

    The biggest problem with Anne’s article is its dogmatism. Crating a dog all day without giving him proper exercise, enrichment and socialization at other times is probably cruel. Crating a dog all day when it’s what that dog needs to be secure and after a wide range of exercise and stimulation is probably fine.

    As Sue and several others said, it’s all about what’s right for your dog. We’re not trying to find the right tricks to “fix” our dogs. We’re in a relationship with a living creature and have to pay attention to her needs.

    BTW, congratulations on the new design. Did you make the switch to WP.org? The link at the bottom of the page makes me think not. Anyway, it’s always a big job to tweak your site. It looks great and you should be really proud of yourself.

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    • Thanks! I’m so glad you like it! I have yet to switch, think that will be this weekend if all goes well… Still have some work to do but so far, so good, right?

      Thanks for your comments. I feel so silly for being so bothered.

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  16. I have not yet read the article which so angered you. I have always used crates. I would not leave a baby to wander a house alone; why would I leave a dog at risk who is unable to keep herself safe from that which could harm her? Even when I only had two dogs, I used crates; left them open so Oliver could have his space if he chose. Now, with so many here in rescue, everyone has and eats in their crate. It is safer for them and for me. A dog savvy visitor was here with a friend who adopted a drop dead gorgeous hound mix girl. They watched in amazement as Annie Beagle jumped up into her “second story condo” crate for a nap. We all had a laugh. When I leave, most can be out and about but Queenie must be crated – she has eaten two bottles of multivitamins in the last two weeks, was found once (while I was home!) inside an upper cupboard (yep – the ones above the kitchen counter) scoping out dog treats. Queenie is a very petite Beagle with a voracious appetite who does not share well. Don’t feel bad. Do what is best for your dog AND yourselves.
    I, too, love the new look as well as all the really cool navigation stuff you have done. I need to tinker more with my blogs….

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    • I’m glad you like it. It actually was a lot easier than I expected. Blog tweaking can be fun in the right frame of mind.

      Yikes, that Queenie has skills! Even Shiva hasn’t opened upper counters.

      Yet.

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  17. I have read many good things about crate training. We used a crate for Ryker when he was a pup. Once he was poty trained he has rarely used it, but then he is rarely left alone for more than an hour or two and is pretty well behaved. We do close the doggie door so he won’t go outside when no one is home only because the neighbor told us that some kids had been taunting him to jump the fence.
    We don’t not use it because we feel it is wrong, we just haven’t felt the need. He is not a rescue dog and doesn’t have a negative past to cope with. He sleeps on his back with his feet up in the air and all exposed, relaxed as can be.
    You have done such a great job with Shiva, trust your instincts and what works for you. Some people just have to Shout Out Load when they shouldn’t.

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  18. Before we started fostering, we had never used a crate. When the first foster tore up the hardwood floors & chewed half way through our bedroom doorway, I realized that we would HAVE to crate train! Not only was our house going to be destroyed, but the foster was most definitely going to hurt herself if left out & alone. Since the first one, all of the fosters have been crated while we were at work & that has kept everyone safe & our house is still standing. Keep up the good work with your amazing girl 🙂

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  19. While I am sure Anne meant well, I find it a more than a little hard to accept her comparison of spending a working day in a crate to spending their entire life in a crate. In addition to all the safety, comfort, anxiety reasons you mentioned (and I wholeheartedly agree with you), there are tons of situations where your dog is going to HAVE to be crated and if they are not crated enough to feel secure with that, you are going to cause them a world of anxiety and distress. Veterinary stays, travel, grooming salons – these are all places that you may need to kennel your pet for their own safety. I attended a animal disaster preparedness seminar yesterday that drilled the importance of pets being accepting of long crate stays into our heads. In an emergency, like the tornadoes in AL, you pet will likely need to spend many hours in a crate just to stay safe as many shelters won’t allow pets to stay loose. The idea behind the post (if you don’t have time for a dog, don’t just throw it in a kennel and bitch when it’s rowdy) is a solid thought, but the post seemed poorly researched and expressed to me. I know I will keep kenneling our dogs – even if it does make me “abusive” in her eyes.

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    • That is a really good point. I never thought about it that way either. Of course in agility Shiva will have to get used to being crated in a public space, something we have never done.

      I think you are right. There is nothing wrong with the central thought. As a dog owner I feel very guilty for a great many things. Guilty that I don’t home cook her meals, guilty that I don’t have a fenced yard, guilty that I have to work outside the home. The reasons for having her in our family were selfish ones, there is no escaping that, and I guess I feel guilty sometimes for wanting a dog at all when I can’t be the best dog owner in the world.

      Silly.

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  20. You just keep doing what works best for you and Shiva. I can tell you with certainty that the small amount of guilt I feel at crating my dogs for a full workday on the 1 or 2 days per week that my husband and I are both gone would be nothing compared to the guilt I’d feel about bad things happening to the dogs, cats, bird or house if I didn’t crate and they got bored and went looking for trouble.

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  21. Nothing wrong with crate training. If we didn’t crate Barbie at night she would probably still be peeing on the carpet!

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  22. I agree with a lot of what’s already been said here. Morgan jumped up and broke a window one night this winter. There’s no way I’d leave her loose and risk her hurting herself in her agitation. Often, when I’m home from work during the day, the crate door will be open and she’ll still go in there and sleep when she could lay anywhere. Of our four dogs, three really like to be in the crate. Morgan is crated when we’re gone out of necessity, but the rest of the time, they often choose to be in it. I think I’d be a lot more neglectful if I left her out to hurt herself than I am putting her in the crate when we’re gone. There are no perfect worlds or scenarios, nor perfect people or dogs. We’re all just doing the best we can. I think the woman who wrote the other post is very short-sighted, though.

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  23. Pingback: Stop And Smell The Flowers…Day One Hundred, Fifty Three « jodistone

  24. I know how you feel. Charlie’s had clinical SA since he was very young. Only medication and SERIOUS training for 6 months straight helped him out.

    Emma’s a resource guarder towards dogs, so anytime I leave the house she goes into a crate. It’s not ideal, but it keeps everyone safe, and she certainly doesn’t mind. It’s a huge Great Dane sized crate with an orthopedic bed, at least two frozen stuffed Kongs (which take her a minimum hour to destuff each) and a bucket of water. She sleeps all day anyway.

    You’re totally doing the right thing. You might even consider setting up a webcam and tape what she does while you’re away. It might give you some peace of mind to see that she’s really OK and not stressed in her crate.

    Emma will actually open the door to her crate and shove herself inside anytime she’s hungry since she eats all her meals in there.

    You’re an awesome dog owner and don’t let ignorant idiots make you feel any differently!

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  25. I read both or your articles and I think you each have different points to make. The first article makes a valid point, dogs should not be pooping and peeing in their crates. If you want to use a crate as part of potty training, they should be going out frequently enough that they know that when they are in their crate they hold it until they go outside. Her perspective on using crates at all may be warped because she has only experienced people using them inappropriatly.

    Our dogs have had varied experiences with crates. Bailey was crated trained, but has never been a willing user of his crate. He eventually has been trained to live without one. When we brought out the crate for Katy to use Bailey freaked out. As many people mentioned here, Katy needed a crate when we first got her. She could not calm down at night to sleep if she was not in her crate. She still self-crates when she feels stressed. While we have progressed enough that she does not need to be crated every time we leave the house and she does now sleep in a bed, not a crate, I am not sure we will ever retire the crate. This is still her willing place of refuge.

    I knew I didn’t have all the answers when we rescued Bailey. Katy has taught me we don’t even have all the questions. We keep learning new things all the time.

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    • That’s true. In my hyper-defensiveness, I did not take that into account. There is definitely a wrong way to go about crate training. I am not saying there isn’t. Sometimes it can be used as a punishment or otherwise inhumanely. But there are many different positive ways to use a crate. More ways than the writer of the blog expressed.

      Anyway, none of that matters. I just really wanted to acknowledge your last comment as it totally blew me away. “We don’t even have all the questions.” Genius. I have a feeling I will be using that in the future. Thank you.

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  26. I think it is hard in the cyber world to always understand the point people are making.

    I have always been a do what works within reason person. The foster Mom who house broke Bailey did an awesome job using crates. I applaud her. However, once here the crate made him more anxious and we did what worked.

    When we got Katy it was clear she needed the crate. It was not an option, that made her feel safe. As she has felt more secure she uses it less, but if I took it down tomorrow she would be as scared as Bailey was when we put it up before Katy came home. That is her sign that life here is secure. It is her spot even more than her bed.

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  27. First of all, love the new look!

    Secondly I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about. I thought crating was evil. We didn’t crate with Oly, we just put her in the kitchen with a baby gate and well stuffed Kong toys and she was fine. By the age of about 1 we started experimenting with leaving her loose, and now at over 2 years old, she can do 8-10 hours loose in the house without drama.

    But then we got Stella. The peeing, poop eating, anxious mess. We started crating just to keep her from eating her poop, leaving her in it only for 45 minutes, maybe an hour. And it was working. She was also learning to hold her pee, something she had NEVER done when left in the baby gated kitchen. Now we’re up to about 4 hours she can be in her crate, and honestly, 90% of the time she walks in there on her own to sleep at night. It taught her to hold it at night, it makes her feel safe when she rided in the car (we leave the door open when she’s in the car), and it lets her feel like there is control in her life.

    I think any person who has an anxious dog or a dog with behavior issues should try crating. Not only crating, but definitely as a training tool.

    Thank you for this post. More people should be enlightened.

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  30. As usual I am late to the discussion (although I admit your title caught my attention and I was dying to read your post and comments). What a great topic.

    I have two takes on this topic and AG’s post. First, I think crate training a dog is a good thing. Dogs like to “den” and having a crate (especially one with sides or at least 2-3 sides covered) makes them feel safe and comfortable. It is not abuse. I’m not sure AG was saying it was abuse, but rather that spending long periods of time in a crate was abuse. I think it depends on how long and how often. Eight hours is a long time, but most dogs would have to be alone for that amount of time anyways – crate or no crate. People work. It’s a necessity not a choice.

    Second, sometimes crating or working long hours without giving a dog a break IS abuse. I consider it abuse is when someone crates their dog all day and then crates them most of the evening – when they are home. I know of two dogs who spent more time in their crate then outside of it because the owners felt the dog was infringing on what THEY wanted to do when they were home. Those are the people who should not own a dog… and funny enough, both of those dogs found new homes where they got the time and attention they needed when mom and dad were home. I know of two dogs who actually aren’t crated, but spend huge amounts of time in their owner’s finished basement with NO interactive toys or fun things to do. I’m talking 10-12 hours a day. Can you imagine?

    What you are doing Kristine is NOT abuse. Shiva is safe, comfortable and she gets lots of exercise and things to do when you are home.

    I will be struggling with this very issue soon as I am going back to work. Neither Jasper and Daisy will be crated because they are great in the house alone (although Daisy will probably be in hers because she prefers it. I just leave the door open for her.), but I worry that my longer hours wil be a big adjustment for them. So, I am considering hiring a dog walker to let them out once a day so they can at least go outside to relieve themselves. It’s a tough spot to be in considering they’ve never had to wait longer than 7 hours, but it is the reality that I, and many others, deal with every day. And, I DON’T consider it abuse.

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  31. Don’t feel guilty one bit about crating Shiva! I crated all my dogs as pups until they became “trustworthy”, for their safety and the safety of our home.

    One thing I did was to have one treat — one super-special-most-yummy-treat that was reserved for when it was crate time. It took almost no time at all for my dog to relate crate time with most-wonderful-treat time and they would fly into the crate on command (which in my case was “saddle up!” because I’m a dork).

    Crates, properly used, are an invaluable training tool and can make the difference between a dog keeping their forever home or being sent to a shelter. I’m a huge advocate, having seen with my own eyes the difference they can make for dogs and their owners.

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