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Some Benefits and Disadvantages of Crate Training: Things Dog Owners Should Consider

A frustrated westie pup  in a cage.
A frustrated westie pup in a cage. | Source

Dog training tips: crate training pros and cons

The crate. An object with which a dog has a difficult relationship.

The subject of crate training a dog is one of perennial debate. Many dog trainers believe, not wrongly, that it is a good way of teaching a dog the proper boundaries and behaviors at home. Others understandably see the wrong use of it as being way too harsh.

Using a crate to guide a dog’s behavior comes with some benefits and some uncomfortable disadvantages that novice dog owners must consider. As well as delivering a personal take on crate training, this article will give some suggestions on how to use this object in a safe, appropriate and humane way.

A personal take on using a crate to guide a dog’s behavior

Where I am concerned, I personally do not like the idea of using a crate to contain dog for reasons of freedom and comfort, both physically and mentally. Many will share this view.

However, a crate is a useful place for your dog to go to, provided owners have some very important things in mind.

A frustrated dog in a cage
A frustrated dog in a cage | Source

What are some of the disadvantages of using a crate to train your dog?

The crate has certain cons attached to it if not used with judiciousness. It can have some very adverse effects on a dog’s physical safety and emotional well-being, so these must be properly addressed before a crate can be used.

It causes physical frustration to a dog.

Keeping a dog in a too-small crate would cause it much physical frustration. The physical stress can cause a dog to constantly lick itself and develop stress sores. A dog may also develop stress on his limbs if he is not able to stand properly.

Someone my mother knows kept a schnauzer in a cage for 12 years till it passed away of cancer. The mild manner schnauzer never complained, but was not able to stand up properly because the cage was a little too small for it.

It causes emotional distress to a dog.

This is just a little reminder because much has been said of this subject before. We do not like being confined and neither do dogs. Being in a cage for a long time causes the animal extended emotional discomfort and results in its maladaptive behavior.

The schnauzer I mentioned earlier never resisted being in a cage, but did develop a dislike for people. The cage, when used for a prolonged period, can develop the same feelings in dogs as in humans who have been isolated for a long time.

It is dangerous if it is not assembled well.

If a cage is not assembled properly it can collapse upon the dog and cause it physical harm.

It is dangerous if there is not enough ventilation.

Some cages have bars that are extremely close together, restricting the air that is allowed to circulate within. This causes extreme discomfort.

The cage could be dangerous if a dog is put in a crate with a collar or leash.

The cage can be dangerous if your dog wears a collar or leash. The collar or lead can get caught on the bars and there is danger of strangulation.

Source

What are the benefits of crate training?

That having been said, using a crate with care does serve at times to guide a dog’s behavior. . Crate training is a useful tool to guide puppies as they are being house trained.

A crate keeps your dog away from harmful substances.

If you have a dog who loves chewing objects, a crate can be a useful tool. A dog, especially a puppy, may ingest something that is dangerous or poisonous if he is left to his own devices without being watched.

It helps to hone a dog’s den instincts.

Dogs are natural den animals and need a home to go to. A crate, when used wisely, serves as a place a dog can call its own.

Allow me to digress a little and mention a little observation that I have made. My little West Highland, Cloudy, loves her spot under the sofa, a place she has made her own little den.

A crate can help with potty training a puppy.

A bigger cage can help localize your puppy and understand where he needs to go to ease himself. A small potty in the cage would help him associate with the scent and know that it is his bathroom.

Shiloh in her crate
Shiloh in her crate | Source

What are the things to keep in mind when crating a dog?

If crating is to be used as a method of housebreaking or guiding a dog’s behavior, here are a few things to consider.

Do not leave a dog there for long stretches.

As mentioned, a dog, when left too long in a crate, becomes terribly distressed because of prolonged isolation. Do not keep it there for more than 2 to 3 hours at a time. A dog in a cage for too long will start to emotionally withdraw. It may become hyperactive because its basic freedom to walk around is being curtailed.

If you have a very long work day, you might want to consider hiring a dog sitter who would take care of its walking and other needs while you are away for the day.

Never use the crate as a form of punishment.

The cage should never be a form of punishment. Using the crate this way will cause a dog to associate it with negativity.

As with children, the dog might even become rebellious and do the exact things you do not want it to. Emotionally disturbed dogs turn to obsessive licking that causes stress sores.

Associate the crate with something pleasant.

The crate should be a dog’s little den. It should be a place that it can go to when it needs time of its own and some “dog-sonal” space.

A door to a crate should never be used unless you want to keep a dog safe for certain reasons eg. if renovation work is going on at home and the dog has to be left there for a while during the day. The dog should use the crate as his little home or place, to freely come and go as he pleases.

Consider the size of the crate.

The crate should be big and comfortable and allow the dog a good stretch. If your dog is not able to stand in a crate, it can develop muscle atrophy.

Never put your dog in with collar or leash.

While you are not aware, the dog’s lead or collar can get caught in the crate and cause strangulation.

Conclusion

A crate can turn into a dog’s home if he is trained to associate it with being one. It can also be a safe place for him to be in certain circumstances. It can, however, cause much physical and emotional distress if used in the wrong way or for inappropriate purposes.

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Comments 23 comments

midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

An article on the pros and cons of crate training a dog, and things an owner should consider when doing so.


Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 3 years ago from New York, New York

Having dogs when I was younger and Kevin, too, we never have crated our dogs, but like you know others who have. You bring up some valid points on both end of the coin. And do believe this article will be beneficial to those considering this. Thanks as always for such wonderful in depth articles and have of course voted and shared, too!!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

I totally agree with everything you said Michelle. Let me further state, I've had dogs all my life and never used a crate, however, with my current dog we did use a crate when he was a puppy as he was shipped to us in a crate. He treated it as his safe haven and so did we. Now, three years later, when he wants to be alone (away from pestering kids)- he goes in the crate, when he knows he's done something wrong - he goes in the crate, when I put my suitcase on the floor - he goes in the crate. So, I guess you can see I'm not against PROPER crate training and neither are most dogs.

Loved this hub and voted up, useful, and interesting.


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida

I've never used a crate for my dogs, but I can certainly see advantages to them. My daughter uses one to put her dog in for road trips. She buckles the crate with the seat belt. I think she is wise to do that for the dog's safety.

As usual, this is a great Hub for us pet owners.

Voted up, and shared, Pinned and Tweeted.


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 3 years ago from Georgia

OMG. Is that a Westie I see? They are so wonderful. (Yes, I know every dog owner says that about their breed.) LOL

I did use a crate early on with my Westie if everyone was away from the house for long stretches of time, until he was well trained. Admittedly, it wasn't often that he was alone. The crate was also useful for trips. But the crate was plenty big enough for him to move around comfortably and he never seemed to mind. Now he has free roam of the entire house, rarely has any accidents and doesn't chew up anything. He is the most social dog I have ever seen. I think we have way too much fun with him.

In short, using the crate didn't seem to have any adverse affects, but then he wasn't "confined" to it too often.

Great hub.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

You definitely know your stuff when it comes to dogs, Michelle. You are my one-stop source of dog information and I thank you for it.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Great information about crate training, I for one would never use it as it makes me uncomfortable just seeing a dog in one, but if its put in a warm safe place where the dog can see people then maybe for short periods of time its okay, nell


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

That's exactly right, Nell. For a dog's safety and for short periods, it's fine. But prolonged isolation is mistreatment. Thanks for sharing!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Thanks, Bill, glad to be of help!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

You used the crate with wisdom, Cyndi. So your little one probably got used to it and knew when it was needed! Thanks for sharing!!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Thanks, Mary!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Yes, many who crate use the crate wrongly and resort to it for convenience, verging on abuse. Thanks for sharing!!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Yes, many who crate use the crate wrongly and resort to it for convenience, verging on abuse. Thanks for sharing!!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Yes, many who crate use the crate wrongly and resort to it for convenience, verging on abuse. Thanks for sharing!!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Yes, many who crate use the crate wrongly and resort to it for convenience, verging on abuse. Thanks for sharing!!


alexadry profile image

alexadry 3 years ago from USA

As a trainer and behavior consultant, I have been lately recommending play pens and the use of baby gates more than crates. If crates need to be used, I tell owners to make sure to create positive associations and avoid them to assume a negative stigma. In my home, all crates are with the door open, and as such they're a welcoming place to retreat. Voted up and awesome.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

I think that play pens are indeed a great alternative to crates. Crates do make a dog uncomfortable, especially when the dog is left for too long. Thanks for sharing!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 3 years ago from Chicago

Thank you for this excellent and needful article. I have a Westie like the one in your first picture. She has never had a crate but for many years I had a Maltese and the crate worked great for him. It became his private space that no one ever entered. He voluntarily spent a lot of time in it. It became his own little den.

James


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Thanks, James! If dogs associate the crate with protection and comfort, it can become a safe haven. Thanks for sharing!


Lipnancy profile image

Lipnancy 3 years ago from Hamburg, New York

I like the way you discussed both of the pros and cons on the subject. Some people seem to think that the crate is the only answer.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

That is too true, Nancy! Thanks for sharing!!


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa

Before I got my first dog as a puppy, I did a lot of research and decided to crate train her. It worked out very well, and she eventually graduated to having run of the house. We then crate trained our second dog, who at the age of 3 (almost 4) still prefers to sleep in her crate every night. Crate training caused neither dog physical or emotional distress. But I agree, it has to be done properly to work right.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore Author

Indeed it does, Deb. you did it well! Thanks for sharing.

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