To Crate or Not to Crate….

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.

Oscar

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!

photo 1

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!

Lucy

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.

photo 2

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?!) 

20140514-220049.jpg

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.

PSS-Are you following me on Facebook & Twitter? If not, please do!

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15 Responses to To Crate or Not to Crate….

  1. Becky says:

    We have used crates for our dogs for over 12 years and have been really happy with how they use them. Our first “crate” dog was Sierra and she looooved her crate all her life. We now adopt senior dogs and adjust the use of crates to their needs. We always feed in crates since all of our recent pets have been 8 or older and we don’t want to deal with food aggressive behavior and they choose whether to use them otherwise. Some do, some don’t but they always have the option and we always have the option too! If we had to use it when we were gone I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable since our crating has good associations for the dogs that we have but it really depends on the individual dog and that’s what I hope everyone looks at! Becky

    • Thank you for commenting with your experiences! I totally agree, it is important to assess what the individual dog needs, and go from there. Kudos for adopting senior dogs! If I ever could start my own rescue, I would want it to be centered around senior pups. 🙂

  2. Lenore says:

    I use a crate from the first night of a puppy’s life with us. We make it a positive, safe, comfortable place to enjoy a chew bone, take a nap or just “get away from it all”. When my dogs are fully housebroken, they sleep in larger, more comfortable crates with soft bedding and a few favorite toys. Our house has 2 levels and I have crates on both levels. It has helped my adult dogs get away from pesky puppies and my puppies use them for resting or for. chewing a bone. I

  3. Diane says:

    My dogs have always been crate trained and kept crated part of the time. When they are mature enough to be trusted alone, they are sometimes left uncrated, depending on the situation (how long we’ll be gone, etc.). I’ve always raised my puppies to view the crate as their safe & secure place. They have comfortable bedding, a stuffed toy, water and always get a treat when going into their crates.

    Our current dog is allowed out nearly all the time, as we work at home. Sometimes she goes to her crate to nap, just because she likes it. She prefers to sleep there, unless my younger son is at home, in which case she’ll sleep with him. I love having crate trained dogs, as it gives you options when you have visitors, and especially when traveling. It’s always safer to have a dog crated if it’s left alone in a hotel room.

    My dogs have always loved their crates and it’s made life so much easier! Definitely thumbs up on crates here!

    • It’s definitely an extra blessing, working from home. I work from home also, so Oscar only has to be crated when I am out of the office which really isn’t all that often! Thank you so much for sharing your input!

  4. Laura Johnson says:

    My older dog (now 8) had separation anxiety for her 1st couple of years & had to be crated when we were away because she’d otherwise destroy our home, but we helped her through that & now she gets the run of the house. Dog #2 came to us as a foster, so she (like all of our fosters) was crated when we weren’t here to supervise. She roams freely now as well, but they’re both inclined to lounge in their crates when tired and to hide there when afraid (like during loud storms.) We always crate fosters when we’re away – for their protection as well as our dogs’. (And our couch’s, our carpet’s, etc. 🙂 )

    • Haha! I always crate fosters also, unless they show a great dislike to them like my fosters Petey & Hambone did. It’s a wonderful thing when they can see the crate as a safe, positive place! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Debra says:

    I highly recommend crateing, especially for dogs new to the household. Ray was crated as a puppy and as he grew, we gave him more freedoms until he ripped a six foot section of carpet and padding out of the family room-so he was again crated until further growth, As a two and a half year old, he has outgrown that tendency and is back to not being crated.
    We crated Julius when he first came to live with us and if we are gone for more than an hour or so, he is still crated then the room in which we keep the crate is gated so that Ray and Julius can’t interact. If we are just running a quick errand, then we separate them by just a gate. They are usually very chill with each other’s company, but why tempt fate?

    • Exactly! My pups love each other to pieces, and I don’t want to create a situation that will ever change that…especially one that might happen when I’m not even here to see what’s going on. Thank you for your input!

  6. Blair says:

    My dog doesn’t do well when I’m not around,and she will bark (or get into the garbage) if left uncrated. She LOVES her crate, and she’ll run in there as soon as she sees me prepping her kong toy! I also use crates with almost all my fosters. Even though they are adult dogs, I feed them in their crates and will keep them there while I’m at work, and I’d say about 8 times out of 10 they do just fine. I also make sure to crate them even when I’m home sometimes (like when I’m cleaning or something) so that they don’t associate crate with me being gone. I’ve heard that can help if your dog suffers separation anxiety.

    • Awesome! I do the same with my dogs too. If I am vacuuming, they have to be crated/gated in the kitchen otherwise they attack the vacuum! Lol Thank you for fostering, and for sharing your experiences!!

  7. We never crated Boomer as a puppy he did fine without it. Dottie on the other hand needed to be crated because she was such a destructive mess at times. Once they were both old enough we left them out together and they did fine. But, when we moved here to Colorado last September I bought crates so that when we are gone they can be crated, since we’re renting I don’t want to take the chance that there be damage or they get out somehow in a place they really aren’t that familiar with.

    Like you said though, every dog is different, some need crates while others don’t. You just have to evaluate the situation and see what works best!

  8. Definitely use the crate. As you said all our dogs are different and we need to treat them accordingly. Miss Walker our 10 year old hound/sheperd mix we do not have to crate ever. Miss Minnie 4 cattle dog we crate her during the day while we are at work. We adopted her at 2 from the Wakulla shelter and she likes her crate. She feels safe in there. Sometimes even when we are home I will find her hanging out in her crate. I do some temp/emergency fostering for Cauzican and I always crate my fosters. During the day while we are working and at night for sleeping. Don’t want them to get used to sleeping in our bed and then when they are adopted out that is not what their forever family wants to do. I sure do enjoy your blog!

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