Pros and cons of crating your dog

As a dog owner, chances are that you’ve heard all about the great crate debate, or perhaps even took part in the discussions about whether crating a dog has any benefits. Some people swear by it, while others think it’s inhumane. Here’s the truth: when it is done correctly, crating can actually be a lifesaver – for both you and your dog.

Animaltalk spoke to Samantha Walpole, Senior Behaviourist and Trainer of Be The Dog, on the topic of crating to understand the when, why and how of crating, and its safety.

Defining crating

Dog crating is simply the act of confining your dog to a small, enclosed space for a period of time. It is important to note that this space is designed to be a safe and comfortable haven for your pup and should never be used as a form of punishment. The space in the crate should also be big enough for your dog to get up and move around in.

 

Origins

The use of dog crates can be traced back to the mid-20th Century when they were initially designed for the transportation of dogs. Airline companies began using crates to transport dogs safely and securely and, soon after, pet owners began using crates for other purposes as well.

In the 1970s, dog trainers started using crates as a training tool, particularly for housebreaking and behaviour modification. They found that confining dogs to a crate could help them learn bladder control and prevent destructive behaviours such as chewing and digging.

Since then, the use of dog crates has become more widespread and is now a common practice for many dog owners. According to Samantha, it is important to note that the use of crates should always be done in a humane and responsible way, with the wellbeing of the dog as the top priority. She adds that, in modern times, we are already living in smaller, more confined spaces and that, if crating is over-used as a quick fix, it will have a catastrophic emotional effect on a dog.

 

For safety’s sake

There are many reasons why you might consider crating your dog. For starters, it can be a great way to keep him safe when you’re not able to keep a close eye on him. However, this should only be for short periods. Dogs are naturally curious creatures, and they can get into all sorts of mischief when left to their own devices.

“It is physically impossible to monitor a puppy 24/7. Therefore, correct crate training can be an excellent tool to assist with potty training and preventing a pup from tearing up the home, getting into the trash, chewing electrical wires or other dangerous activities when unsupervised,” says Samantha.

Crating can help with potty training because dogs instinctively try to avoid soiling their own living space, so if you confine him to a crate when you’re not at home, he is less likely to have accidents in the house. Crating is also sometimes a necessity for post-surgery recovery.

 

Important skills

“Crating is in effect a life skill that every dog should learn – whether at a vet, post-op, for transportation or at the parlour, sooner or later in his life, he will be put in a crate,” says Samantha. She adds that one of the hardest things for her to witness is a dog who has no choice but to go into a crate – for example, post-surgery – but he has never been exposed to it and doesn’t understand what is happening.

Perhaps the most surprising benefit of dog crating is the sense of security it can provide for your furry friend. Dogs are pack animals by nature, and they often feel most comfortable in small, enclosed spaces. By providing a crate for your dog, you’re giving him a cosy, den-like space that he can call his own.

“Every dog has his own personality – no two dogs are alike. Crating has to be specific and tailored to your dog. Your reasons have to be clear, and it is advisable to get the support and advice of an animal behaviourist to ensure safety and success with your crating efforts,” says Samantha.

So, if you’re on the fence about crating your dog, consider giving it a try. With the right training and positive reinforcement, your dog can learn to love his crate and see it as a safe haven.

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