Dog crates have become a popular tool in modern dog training, but they have a somewhat controversial reputation. Various people consider crates cruel and would never put their dog in them. Others swear by them as a humane training tool that offers the dog a safe place of their own to rest and relax in the house.
Dog crates can be cruel if dogs are confined to them for long periods. However, dog crates are helpful as a training tool if time spent in the crate is kept to a minimum. The dog should be provided with plenty of enrichment throughout the day, whether their owner is home or not.
Dog crates can be helpful while you're raising a young dog to be respectful of your home and the belongings you have in it, but they have the potential to be misused. Keep reading to learn more about how to use a crate cruelty-free and some advantages of introducing crate training to your dog's life.
Is It Cruel to Crate Dogs?
It is not inherently cruel to crate train dogs. The problem with crates is that some people end up leaving their dog in the crate for unreasonable amounts of time, such as eight or ten hours while they're working. No animal would enjoy spending eight hours in a small cage, and as a pack animal, dogs find being alone stressful.
On this flip side of this argument, it is also considered cruel to leave a puppy unsupervised for eight hours or more while you're at work without leaving the puppy in a place that has been puppy-proofed to prevent them from causing damage or hurting themselves. This is neglect on the level of leaving an unsupervised two-year-old alone in your house for eight hours.
Ideally, when using crates in training, owners can find a happy medium. Getting a puppy used to the crate for a few hours at a time to keep them from being underfoot when guests are over or when they can't be directly supervised in the house makes crates a great tool for dogs to understand their boundaries as they grow older.
Is it Cruel to Crate a Dog While You're Working?
There are several negative issues associated with putting a dog in a crate for long periods. Here are the common traps that many dog owners fall into when they begin using a crate with a puppy while they're at work:
Crates are good training tools, but they have to be appropriately used to be considered humane. Otherwise, there is great potential to abuse crate training in a way that leads to dog neglect.
Is It Cruel to Crate a Dog at Night?
In general, it is not cruel to crate a dog at night. Dogs have evolved to seek out compact, cozy spaces for sleeping, and over thousands of years, dogs have evolved away from nocturnal behaviors into the daily habits of humans. This means that when you're sleeping, your dog will likely be sleeping, too.
When a person first gets a puppy and puts them in the crate for their first night, they will often whimper, whine and cry. This can lead people to believe that placing the puppy in a crate is cruel. But puppies need time to adjust from being away from their family and in a new environment.
Placing your puppy's crate in your bedroom up on a table where the puppy can see you while you sleep nearby can help comfort the puppy and get them used to their crate. Later, as the puppy gets a bit older, you can move the crate to the floor and eventually to another room if you wish.
Keep in mind that a puppy usually can't hold their bladder through a whole night when they're still young, so make plans to get up in the middle of the night for a few weeks to take the puppy out. Eventually, as the puppy grows older, they'll be able to sleep through the night just like a human baby. Adult dogs should be able to stay in a crate all night comfortably.
Advantages of Crate Training a Dog
As long as you make an effort to make crate training comfortable and secure for a dog, there are many benefits associated with it. Here are some of the advantages of crate training a dog humanely:
While some people may see crates as inherently cruel, they can be helpful and humane tools if they're used correctly. Providing plenty of exercise and affection outside of the crate can make your dog enjoy the downtime they spend relaxing in the crate after a day of socializing and playing with you.
Alternatives to Crate Training
Dog crates aren't necessarily cruel, but they aren't the right answer for all dog owners. These alternative solutions will help you figure out what to do with your new dog or puppy during the day while you have to work or go to school.
Dog crates can be cruel if they're misused, but they don't have to be. As long as you make sure that your dog doesn't spend too long in their crate and they have plenty of access to food, water, exercise, entertainment, and socialization, crates can be used to help housebreak your dog or provide them with a peaceful place to relax and rest.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to train your dog and techniques that could be cruel, then you need to look at these two articles that discuss the dangers of slip leads and electric fences.