This post is part of a series wherein struggling pet owners submit pleas for help to the expertise of blogland. Everyone’s experiences are unique. If you have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments. What you think common sense may be revolutionary for someone else. You never know what may resonate and keep another animal out of a shelter. My hope is that together we can help good pet people feel a little less alone.
“To crate, or not to crate?” It’s a question most people face when living with a dog. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy one as every dog is so different. Some look upon the crate as a place of security and comfort and others see it as a terrifying trap. Today’s submitter has one of each.
Here is her story:
To preface, my husband and I have two dogs, both rescues, a cockapoo and a lab/great dane mix. My husband was raised to firmly believe that dogs should be crate-trained and that they are happier and better off for it. However, I was raised the opposite, and still really feel that unless the dog does damage to the house or actively seeks out refuge the crate, there is really no reason for them to be in there. (Not saying either is right or wrong, just how we were brought up.)
The lab mix ADORES his crate. Just the word “crate” sends him into an excited tizzy and he runs into the other room and promptly sits his butt down waiting for his treat. He won’t go to bed outside of his crate and usually begs for us to put him in there when it’s his bed time. Since he is destructive when not crated, this is a big win for us. And my husband especially, because it supports his notion that dogs want and need to be crated when their owners are not home.
Then there is my dog, the cockapoo. She HATES her crate. When I first got her 4 years ago, I tried to crate her at night and she would whine nonstop and scratch the door and my roommate at the time (and I) was driven insane. Since she is all of 20 lbs soaking wet and not destructive, I decided not to crate her. But my husband doesn’t agree. We’ve fought about it many a time and the end result is that she is crated during the day when we’re at work, but not at night.
However, her reaction to her crate is getting worse. She is an anxious dog as it is, but as soon as we even start to walk towards the room with her crate in it, she cowers, and starts shaking. We’ve tried everything we can think of – feeding her in there so maybe she’ll like it (door open and door closed attempts), giving her a peanut butter bone in there, enticing her with chicken or some other savory item, I even actually tried to climb in there the other day to show her it’s not so bad! (I’m a loser). I hate the feeling that I am punishing and also stressing out my dog, it kills me!
I guess I just don’t know what to do. Do we keep pushing her to see if we can get her to like her crate, or is it a lost cause? My husband thinks she is just being manipulative and knows how upset I get seeing her in distress and thinks I will cave if she hams it up and shows how sad she is to be crated. I dunno, I think that might be giving my dog a bit too much credit in the cognitive abilities department.
I guess my end question is: to crate or not to crate? And if the answer is to crate, how to I figure out what is causing her behavioral reaction and fix it? I can’t stand seeing her so upset and can’t continue trying to crate her if that’s her reaction – since she’s a 6-year-old rescue whose been through dog knows what, I just can’t impose any more discomfort on her. (I am a big baby, I know.)
If you have any tokens of advice, please share them below. Words encouragement or commiseration are also very welcome. I appreciate all of your support.
If you have a question you would like answered, fill out the contact form and I will post it up as soon as I can. All submissions will remain anonymous.