That is the question!
Let me start off by saying that I believe ALL dogs should be assessed and treated as individuals. Dogs should not be judged because of their age, breed, or history. Just as humans should not be judged by their skin color, age, or family members. We are all different, it is that simple.
I fully believe in crating dogs. Lucy was crated until she turned 1, and then she no longer needed to be crated. She isn’t food or toy aggressive. She doesn’t have any anxiety or fear issues. She isn’t destructive. Therefore once she matured enough to be fully potty trained, and to follow the general house rules, she was allowed to stay out of her crate. On the rare event that we’ve had a foster dog that can’t be crated (Petey & Hambone), Lucy then stays in the kitchen where Oscar is, with the baby gate up, separating her and the foster dog. She still likes the kennel though, and will often go take a nap in it. This is a good thing, because when we travel, I do keep her crated. This is to keep her safe and out of trouble, and to keep me from having to apologize for anything that she might get into!
Oscar on the other hand, is crated and will be, always. He is around 2yrs old now, and he still gets into stuff if he’s feeling extra sneaky. He also can be reactive when food is involved…the unfortunate after-effects of being starved as a pup. Though he has only ever barked (never bitten) at various foster dog’s when they come near his food, and has never ever done that to Lucy, I still would never put him or Lucy in the situation where they’d feel the need to fight or protect themselves. It is my job to know my dogs, to love them unconditionally, to protect them…but above all else, to remember that they ARE animals. Oscar truly seems to love Lucy, and recognizes that she was here first. It’s almost as if he sees her as the older sister, the boss if you will. For example, if they are playing and he accidentally hurts her, he backs off immediately, then goes to her and gives her kisses. It’s too cute!
Anyway, a crate should be introduced during puppy hood, and should be the dog’s private safe cave. It shouldn’t be used as punishment, though can be used for a time out as long as you are gentle about sending
Oscar your dog to a crate during this time. Using a crate can also help with potty training, and I have found with all of the puppies I’ve had, that they quickly learn not to go where they sleep & eat. If you have a dog like Oscar, you can also use the crate as their place for eating. It should be the place where they can go to be safe, and get some space if they need it. As a rescue person, I always promote using a kennel, and I remind the new owner that the dog should be able to use their kennel while adjusting to their new surroundings.
Of course, there are times that crates just do not work. Especially if it is an adult dog, and they don’t see the crate as their safe place. Then the dog can feel confined, threatened, and become destructive. (Remember Petey’s feelings towards the kennel?!)
I believe that some dogs can be moved out of the crate once they are mature and well behaved, like Lucy. But, there are some dogs that need the crate to keep them out of trouble. The crate should not be seen as an evil thing, like doggy jail or something. For Oscar, the kennel keeps him out of trouble. It is almost guaranteed that he would chew something up if I left the house, leaving him loose & unsupervised. Heck, he does that even if I am home! I would much rather come home, let him out of his kennel, and give him happy hugs and kisses; rather than come home, and have to be upset because he ruined something. Or worse, for him to get into something that could be harmful to him!
So tell me friends, do you crate your dog(s)? Are you for it? Against it? Do you separate your animals when unsupervised, using another method other than crating? I’d love to hear your opinions & experiences, so please share with me!
PS-Don’t forget, Tooley is still searching for her forever home! She is super sweet, and adores kids. She is great with dogs of all ages and sizes, too! Her ideal home would be with an active family, who understands that her hound nose can take her on adventures if not supervised carefully! 😉 Please share in order to help her find the family she deserves.
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