Debunking the “Crates are Cruel” Myth

Since the use of a crate for training hit the dog world, its detractors have been hard at work convincing people that crates are cruel.  Many believe them, too many.  Half-truths and misinformation have created a sect of dog owners who are convinced that using a crate is akin to animal abuse.  They couldn’t be more wrong.

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Using a crate does not mean that you are an inattentive or lazy pet owner who abuses their dog for convenience sake.  It means you are a great pet owner who is interested in keeping your dog safe and sound and out of trouble.

Using a crate will not speed up the amount of time it takes to house train your puppy because they will just go anyway.  Actually, they generally won’t unless you break the rules and crate them for far too long.  With few exceptions, by confining your pup when you can’t watch him and taking him out at appropriate times, you indeed help to solidify the idea in the dog’s mind that outdoors is the best place to pee.   Allowing them to remain loose, roaming the house, peeing and pooping at will?  Yeah, that will slow down the house training process alright – it might make it barely possible at all.

Dogs don’t hate crates.  They really don’t, and we aren’t just saying that.  Sure, a dog can learn to hate his crate if you handle things poorly, but it takes some effort on your part for that to happen.  Dogs naturally like a ‘den’.  A crate is a safe quiet place that should mean only positive things to a dog.  Can you train a dog to hate his crate?  Yes.  People do it quite often.  Sometimes without knowing they are doing it.  If you have trained your dog to hate his crate, you are not allowed to claim that your dog hates his crate.  It’s that simple.  The responsibility for their dislike sits firmly with you.

Pet owners don’t just use crates to make their lives easier and so that they can be ‘lazy’.  We use them because it is what is often safest for our dogs.  We use them because we don’t want our dogs hurting themselves by eating inappropriate items.  We use them because there may be a time when our dog needs to spend time at the vet in a small enclosed space (sort of like a crate?) and we don’t want them to be more stressed than they already are.  We use them because disasters and emergencies happen and we never know when it will be an absolute necessity for our dogs to be able to handle being confined for a set amount of time in order to save their lives and ours.  Does it, at times, make our lives easier?  Yes.  Is that a bad thing?  Nope.

Crate training does not cause any of the following: Aggression, withdrawal, hyperactivity, depression, eating disorders, obsessive licking, separation anxiety, inability to bond with humans or muscle atrophy.  Lots of factors can cause one or more of these issues, but proper use of a crate doesn’t cause any of them.

Any tool can be misused.  Using the crate in a proper manner is anything but cruel – it might be one of the greatest things you can do ‘right’ with your dog.

Have you sucessfully used a crate in your dog training? Leave your answer in the comment section below.