The crate debate is a tale as old as time.
If you have a new young puppy and want to keep them off of the couch via housetraining, most of the internet will convince you that crating is the way forward.
But are crates cruel? What if your dog never adjusts? Are there alternatives to crating?
Today we take a more balanced view of the crate argument and help you decide whether it’s right for you!
The Benefits of Crate Training
Most vets and dog trainers recommend crate training because of the numerous benefits it gives you and your dog.
Here are the pros of crate training:
1. It is a useful housetraining tool
Crate training is often used as a housebreaking method for puppies.
Essentially, the logic goes that dogs do not like to soil their own sleeping spaces. So if you keep your puppy confined to their bed space at night, you teach them not to pee and poop around the house and to ask when they need to go to the toilet at night or in the early morning.
This method has been effective for millions of dogs across the globe. Crate training is still one of the most effective ways to teach your puppy good toilet manners.
2. It provides a safe space for your dog
Beyond just toilet training, a crate can become a comfortable private space for your dog. If you make the crate inviting with blankets and toys, many dogs like to retreat to their crate in times of stress, or even sleep in there.
3. It makes transporting your dog easier.
If you want to travel with your pooch or move house, crate training will give them the tools to stay calm in a carrier. They’ll associate the carrier with safety which will make your trip ten times easier.
4. It teaches your dog to self soothe
Crates are often used for puppies when you’re away from home. By creating a soothing environment for your pup when they are alone, they’ll learn to self-soothe and lessen separation anxiety over time.
The Drawbacks of Crate Training
As you can see, there are many benefits to crate training your dog.
Now let’s look at the cons.
1. Some dogs never adjust to crate training
Though most dogs tend to settle into crates, some dogs never do. Instead, they become more anxious which can lead to behavioral issues down the line.
2. It’s easy to become overreliant on crates
Many dog owners misuse crates and put their dog in there for long periods of time.
While your pup may find safety and comfort in their crate, it’s not meant to be a replacement for a dog sitter when you’re away from home for lengthy periods.
3. Crates are not good for dogs with mobility issues
If your pup has hip dysplasia or arthritis, they need to keep themselves moving every so often to prevent their joints from seizing up.
If you crate your dog, they won’t be able to get up and walk around when they need to. This can exacerbate their mobility issues.
4. Some owners use crates as a punishment
Crates should never be used as a punishment. This can set off a whole host of behavioral and trust issues. The crate is meant to be a safe place – not one of punishment or shame.
To Crate or Not To Crate: A Personal Account
So those are a few of the major pros and cons of crate training.
How do these apply in the real world?
Here’s my story.
I’ve had success and failure with crate training in my 15 years of dog parenthood. My first dog, Blue, never adjusted to crate life. She always felt confined and stressed.
In the end, slept with her on the sofa with the crate empty alongside us. She housetrained quickly and never used a crate again after our first attempts.
My third dog, Max, loved crates!
I did the research and found one suited to his needs. He found it to be a solace away from the noise of the TV and the pokes of strange people.
As a more reserved dog, he adored the safe space a crate could provide him. So as you can see, even in the same household, dogs can react differently to crates.
Is Crate Training Best For Your Dog?
So to crate or not to crate?
The answer lies with you and your dog. If your dog adjusts to crate training and learns to love their own private space, it’s a win. Most dogs so adjust to crates just fine which is a blessing for you and them.
If your dog’s anxiety increases and causes problems in the household, find alternative methods.
In any case, crate training is always worth trying. Get the latest advice on how to crate train your dog properly. Consult your vet or a professional dog trainer if you have any issues.
They may agree with you that crate training just isn’t a fit for your pooch and therefore suggest alternative methods for what you’re trying to achieve.
There are no real rules when it comes to raising happy and healthy dogs – just guidelines. You need to find the right solution for your dog.