Dog/Dog Crate Question

The usage of wire crates is pretty common. Apparently they are used for both training purposes as well as just a place to keep dogs overnight or while they are away. Now, I understand it’s not uncommon for humans to project onto dogs what might be uncomfortable to humans, but that said is it not unhealthy/uncomfortable for a dog to spend several hours caged up?

It depends on the dog, and more importantly how they are used. Crates are not cruel if it is used as a bonus and not a penalty.

If they are used for timeouts or to conveniently ignore a dog that needs social interaction they can be very cruel.

If the cage is big enough for the dog to be able to stand up and move around a bit, I wouldn’t expect there to be any harm done by a couple of hours in a cage or crate.

When our late dog was young (i.e., from about 9 months old, when we got her, to about 2 or 3 years old), she tended to get very destructive when she was left alone for extended periods. When we realized that we couldn’t leave her alone for very long without her getting into trouble (and both my wife and I worked all day), we started crating her when we were gone. She had plenty of room (it was a big crate, and she was a small dog), and we made sure she had a chance to go outside immediately before going into the crate. It wound up being her “safe place,” and she’d retreat there (even without the door being shut) when there were fireworks going on outside.

My Yorkie considers a small crate her bed room. She hides her dolly there. She gets treats the same as her Beagle sister but she usually only nibbles them and hides them in her crate. Beagle waits until shes asleep on my lap and goes and robs her loot. I would never crate her for hours. Only when necessary. I never crate trained the Beagle. She potty trained quickly and was reliable. The Yorkie took more time to train. She’s kinda dumb. But lovable.

Dogs, like many animals, like dens. To you, it’s a jail cell. To them, it’s their “safe space”.

As previously mentioned though, it depends on how they are used. If it’s only used to keep the animal in at night, or when the owners go away, it’s a den. If it’s used as a place of punishment, it’s a jail cell, and the dog will hate it.

We have typically used crates for potty training. Once the dog has been properly housebroken, we haven’t locked them in their cages. If the dog starts having accidents again, back in the crate they go, at least for a few nights. It’s very effective at housebreaking dogs.

We try to avoid making the crates a jail cell and don’t use them for punishment.

Our little dog loved her crate. It was her safe space. She would sleep in it at night even after we left the door open. Then one of our cats took it over, and the crate has basically belonged to the cat ever since.

Putting a blanket over the crate actually helps. To a human, that makes the crate seem even more claustrophobic, but to a dog, that makes the den more secluded and private, and more safe from predators. It’s a safer place to sleep.

We’ve had many dogs and have used crates with all of them at different times. From what I can tell, a dog doesn’t view the crate like a human would. There is typically a bit of resistance at first, but it’s more about wanting to be with you rather than being upset about the crate itself. Typically after a week or so, they seem fine with the crate.

One way I help them adjust to the crate is to lie next to it at night to help them calm down. Part of the difficulty initially is just the separation anxiety, so if you’re right there keeping them calm, they calm down pretty quickly. I also help them calm down first before I let them out of the crate. They are typically excited to see me, so I give voice and hand commands to have them lie down and pet them a bit until they are calm before I let them out. Eventually they are more relaxed naturally when it’s time to get out.

I know that crates can often be controversial, but I think that’s from projecting human feelings onto the dog. Yes, it’s better if you didn’t have to crate at all, but often crating may mean the difference between having and not having a dog. Some people may not have the home environment which would allow a free-roaming dog. Using a crate may mean they can give a dog a loving home that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

We crate trained our dog. She sleeps in there every night voluntarily. Now, one could say she’s conditioned to prefer that but I think dogs prefer to sleep in enclosed, den-like spaces

Our dogs love their crate (they share one).

Oh, and our vet explained that dogs experience time differently than we do. If there’s nothing going on, that time “doesn’t count”.
So their day is *“Breakfast and pee’ing! Then the humans go to work… now it’s 2 pm, mail should come, there it is… now the humans are home! Walk and pooping!” *
They don’t spend the day pondering how bored they are.

My Rat Terrier was not crate trained. She was a holy terror in the house alone. Destuffed pillows, chewed remotes and shoes. Magazines and books shredded. This was in her first 2 years. She housetrained herself. I began taking her everywhere I could. I bought a crate but never successfully got her to like it. We had her spayed, nothing changed. I set up a cam-corder and watched her while we were gone. Never caught her in the act. She knew I was filming her. I am not kidding. I talked to a trainer about classes and he listened quietly. When I was done, he told me that she was very intelligent and being with her people was the only thing that would help. She would never be happy confined. We took a few classes, and she was not the brightest student. She wasn’t fixing to be controlled by my voice and a leash. Never succeeded in getting her mind me. She WAS very smart. Just not a cookie cutter type dog. As she got older she was way more manageable. The crate stayed empty. Sometimes, I swear she would walk by it and smirk. She beat that thing.
She lived to 20+, best dog ever. I don’t think I could do it again, though. I’ll take my dummies, now-a-days.

The comment that crates are controversial surprises me, I’ve never heard that at all.

Our first dog was a German Shepherd and literally everybody we talked to from our breeder to the local trainer, to other owners, to a good friend who now owns a nationwide dog training business, all told us to use a crate. Never once were we told that crates are controversial in any way.

As noted above by Engineer and others, for housebreaking, you put the puppy in the crate for sleeping and when you’re now home. In the morning or when you get home you immediately take them outside for a pee or poop. They quickly associate “outside” with peeing or pooping. Our puppy was housebroken in about a week. Also, dogs don’t pee or poop where they sleep, so they “hold it in” while in the crate.

As far as keeping them in the crate during the day, within a month (once we were 100% sure the puppy was house trained) we stopped locking it in and left the door open.

We were told that the dogs evolved in dens and the den is their “safe spot”. In your house, the crate is their personal den and their safe spot. To that end, once the dog was in there we’d pet him, but never “bother” him. If he goes in there when we were around it’s because he wanted to be alone, leave him be. As we’d tell out kids, he wants quiet time.

We had a crate with our last rescue dog. We used it at night when we first brought him home, but after about two weeks we felt he was trustworthy and he didn’t let us down. The crate stood with the door open and was used as his den if he wanted to do so. We gave him a treat when we left him alone and always gave it to him when he was in the crate. We never shut the door, but he’d run to the crate and stand inside to get his treat. However he preferred to sleep in our walk in shower.

Are you meaning perhaps she was not the most obedient student? Rather than too stupid to train, she was too willful?

As noted, crates when properly used are refuges/safe spaces for dogs, and useful for training puppies early on if you take them out frequently for potty stops.

For a dog not used to them, better gradually accustom the animal to the crate with treats and praise, rather than suddenly lock up the beast. Long ago we had a cocker who had to be confined when we were out of the house, lest she sneak-pee somewhere (which she was very good at). We kept her in the garage, until she started destroying the door in an effort to get back into the house. Then I lured her into a large metal pen, secured the door and left. When I got back, she had by incredible effort half-destroyed the pen, bending back the steel overhead bars while somehow not injuring herself. :smack:

It is also very useful to get your dog used to the idea of being in an enclosed space, if you ever plan on boarding or grooming it.

Most dogs have no problem at all going into a cage, I’ll just say “Load Up”, and point, and they will amble right on in and lay down. Some are a bit less enthusiastic about it.

Yes. Willful would describe her.

At times, I was assigned a workspace where I sat at a chair, with a computer terminal & phone in front of me, and partitions separating me from the workers next door. I could stretch out my arms and touch them both simultaneously. I was expected to be there 8 hours per day, with 2 coffee/bathroom breaks and a 20-minute lunch break.

Proportional to my body size, I had less space available than most dog crates.

We have three dogs. In the area adjacent to my man-cave (my crate, if you will) are three large dog crates and a dog run. Each dog was “crate trained” until they could be trusted to not eliminate indoors.

On any given day, at any given time, I might find one or more dogs relaxing in their crate. Ella actually sleeps in one by choice, while Kali sleeps beside our bed and Loki sleeps in our bed. It’s all good.

My dogs LOVE their wire crates/cages. When they were young puppies they slept in bed with us just so we didn’t have to hear them crying all night. We both work full time so they would have to go in their crates when we left in the morning. (They have always gotten an hour long walk first thing in the morning before work.) They were always fine during the day while in their crates. Eventually, they became too big to sleep in bed with us (85 & 110#). Neither my husband or I ever had a full night’s sleep. The dogs would lay across our legs or move around too much. So we decided to have them sleep in their crates. By this time they no longer had to be in the crates during the day. Now it’s like clockwork. At 8:30 every night they jump off the couch, go to the door and ring the bell to be let out to go potty. When they come back in, they go directly to their cages and wait to be let in. They sleep all night, never wake us up. They will lay calmly until we get up in the morning, even if we sleep in. It’s also nice to have a place they can be when company comes. They stay in their cages until we’re done eating and then they get to come out and visit. They LOVE company, but when they’re in their cages they don’t say boo.

One night my husband said that it bothered him that the dogs had to sleep in their cages and he wanted to see what would happen if they didn’t. What a horrible night of sleep that was. They were up and down all night long wandering around. Romeo kept going to his cage and crying. They were just beside themselves - they didn’t like that their routine had changed. So after that night, we never tried it again. They’re both 5 years old.

I’m surprised they need to be ‘let in’ - you don’t leave the door open for them if they want to go in themselves? Do you lock them in overnight (no judgement, just curious - I find it unclear from how you worded it)?

This was our motivation. As opposed to our first dog, who always had someone around and was never boarded, with our current dog, we wanted him to be good with the crate and being boarded from the get-go, so we started him with both when he was very young.

I think the purpose of the crate changes as the dog grows-up. As a puppy, as mentioned, it helps with house-training, and if used properly (not as a punishment), he will see it as his own slice of space in the house. For us, we use it as a place he goes when we are out, and he can be in there all-day if needed (altho it is usually for only a few hours at a time). This was out of necessity when he was a puppy, as he was not trustworthy being left alone in the house. Remember, most dogs can and will sleep 18 hours a day if left undisturbed. He can roam free all night, except when he was sick.

I have known a few people who viewed the crate cruel, and thus did not use it properly, and their dogs tend to be more unruly IMHO.