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A Dog Crate Is a Cage Is a Prison

What if, at your local pet-supply store, you could purchase a dog-training tool that would make your dog weaker, klutzier, and less intelligent? And what if this tool increased your dog’s frustration and fearfulness about the world and made him or her less likely to bond with you? Would you buy it? Of course not! Yet, millions of these “tools” are sold every year to unsuspecting American dog lovers who want the absolute best for their dogs. The tool is a “crate,” which is just a euphemism for a cage. In fact, dog crates are substantially smaller than the cages that are used to house dogs in laboratories.

Dogs Hate Crates: How Abusive Crate Training Hurts Dogs, Families & Society is a new book by Ray and Emma Lincoln in which they discuss in detail the detrimental effects of crating on dogs’ well-being as well as on American society. They explain how the crating trend got started, what continues to fuel it, why it’s so harmful, what can be done about it, and what the alternatives to crating are. The authors are experienced dog trainers and behavior specialists who found that they were spending much of their training time trying to undo hundreds of psychological and behavioral symptoms caused by crating. These specific symptoms and their connection to classic studies on the effects of isolation and excessive confinement are thoroughly analyzed.

Shockingly, it is now commonplace for people who use crates to keep their dogs in them for upwards of 18 hours per day, according to the authors. Often dog owners fail to keep track of the total number of hours during which their dog is crated, but the hours add up: nine hours while the owner is at work (including a commute), another eight hours at night, any hours during which no one is home in the evening and on the weekend, and any time that company comes over or the dog is simply “underfoot.”

Pro-crate advocates will say, “Yes, but a crate is just like a cozy den.” Well, the truth is that dogs, wolves, and other wild canids are not true “den animals” in the sense that they don’t naturally spend much time in a den. Wolves use a den for only eight weeks, right after their pups are born. Afterward, the den is abandoned. And since dens don’t come with a locked door, there is no true scientific comparison between crates and dens.

Other promoters of crating will say, “But my dog loves his crate!” This statement defies logic and is not based in science. There is no animal on Earth who “loves” to be caged. However, dogs do love people and will tolerate almost anything that their guardians force them to endure, including being locked up. According to experts quoted in the book, dogs who appear to “love” their crate because they keep running back to it even when given their freedom are often really exhibiting a lack of self-confidence or even fearfulness toward the outside world brought on by the extreme confinement and isolation of a crate. Tragically, these dogs are better able to bond with their crate than with their human companions!

In truth, crating is an inadequate substitute for comprehensive dog training used by trainers who lack competence and wish to increase their client base rather than taking the time needed to tailor the training to busy families and solve individual dog problems. At best, crating only postpones the day when real training will have to take place because dogs simply can’t learn how to interact with the world while in isolation. At worst, crating makes behavior training, including house training, more difficult, often creating serious and sometimes even dangerous behavior problems.

But trainers aren’t the only ones who profit from crates. There is a lot of money to be made from crates in the dog industry, not just from the crates themselves, but also from all the peripheral industries, such as products and services meant to cure behavior problems as well as medications and supplements for dogs who have not learned to cope with the world because of crating. If crating were widely denounced as unacceptable and if, because of that, fewer people decided to adopt or buy dogs, realizing that the only way they could manage to have a dog would be to warehouse him or her in a crate much of the time, many dog-related industries would shrink. It’s no wonder that most dog-related professionals have jumped on the crating bandwagon!

In Dogs Hate Crates, Ray and Emma Lincoln ask all the tough questions, such as “Is it ethical to send a dog home with a family if the only way they feel they can keep him is to crate him?” and they provide the reader with comprehensive and well-thought-out answers as well as training strategies to empower families and enhance the dog-human bond. This book contains case studies that will move you to tears, but it also clearly lays out the problems with and the solution to excessive crating. Finally! A book to lead the charge against a practice that has tormented and harmed millions of dogs and brought unhappiness, guilt, stress, and confusion to millions of people who want what’s best for their dogs.

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Want to learn more on crating? Check out our article “Animal Rights Uncompromised: Crating Dogs and Puppies,” and be sure to read our Frequently Asked Questions section, “What’s Wrong With Crating?

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  • C says:

    I was recently in a car accident, and the air bag went off. This makes me cringe because when we travel with our dog she sits on our laps. Had she been in my lap the day of the accident she probably would not be here anymore. I have been searching and searching online for a safe way to travel with her, and I can’t find anything that is sufficient. Rarely do we go on long trips with her, usually she is only in the car when we go to the vet or to a friends house for the day. The one thing I did see online that seemed safe was to strap the seat belt around the crate. I bought a crate, and my dog HATES it. She is terrified of it. I have not forced her into it but have instead let her smell it and walk around. She sniffs it and went in on her own once got spooked and ran out. I really don’t want to force her into it, but I don’t know how else to safely drive with her. I have seen the harnesses that clip to the seat belt. However I do not think that they are appropriate for a small dog, and I am afraid she would get hurt from it. Does anyone have any ideas on how to safely travel with your dog

  • Rosaida says:

    Please I need some advice and help here. I had a beagle/basset hound that passed away on April. I never had him in a crate. I just got a beagle (foster) and he manage to escape out of the fence. First day he ran out and I was at work when I received a phone call asking if I had a dog. His tag save him. That’s why I decided to leave him inside the house inside the crate. This is the first time I’ve done this to a dog. It is killing me. On the other hand, I wouldn’t feel good if he runs away and I cant find him. My other dog lived with me and my kids so there was a lot of action around the house while he had me. This time is just me and the dog. I come home at lunch time but still I believe he spend too much time by himself. I feel guilty that I got him. I believe maybe a family would be better. All my friends tell me that I love him so much that eventhought I am out of the house long hours, the quality time I give to him is enough. Any comments?

  • Emma love says:

    I don’t understand… My pup sleeps in his crate at night, and is crated for about 6-7 hours while I work. I also come home during my lunch break every day to see my baby <3 and believe me or not we have bonded perfectly… We are best friends! I do not want him to get into any sort of danger being at home alone… Although you can puppy proof your home from top to bottom, there will always be something that they can get into.. Like it or not. Also, my dog is not scared of anyone or anything.. He loves attention, and just wants to lick and say hello to anyone he sees really!! I believe the issue here is not about the crate… It is the person running the crate in their home and how one uses it. We need to take responsibility for our pets and actions… But let’s not hate on all crates and crating owners… My boy is a happy boy and that’s because I care about him, to make sure he is safe and lived and happy! Thanks and buh bye =)

  • caira says:

    First I would have never thought about getting a crate, I am stay at home mum, so our dog doesn’t need to be “restricted” at all and if we are out, she will have the whole hallway to use, but I did get one for her own good, I have 2 small kids (6&4 ) and my younger one is autistic and even though he would never hurt the puppy, I think there will be time, when the puppy will want to have some peace and quiet from the kids and I want her to have that safe place where she can go and the kids won’t be able to bother her. I think if using for the right reasons, crate doesn’t have to be bad experience for dog..

  • Scuppers says:

    Two years ago I “purchased” from a rescue society a lhasa apso who was then four years old, and his foster mom told me that he’d been kennel trained like it was a good thing. This beautiful dog was so fearful of everything (and lhasas are a fearless breed, mind you) that if we tried to get him to get up on the couch with us his anal gland would let loose. A year later he would with trepidation get on the couch. Eventually he got comfortable with sleeping
    with me on my bed, and to this day that is the highlight of his day.
    Here’s Howie’s problem: he would rather NEVER go potty if he had his way. I couldn’t take harsh action of any kind with this dog, so the latest ploy is a small treat every time he eliminates.
    Now, let me see…what would cause a dog to be able to hold his potty 12-14 hours? Not too difficult, is it? CRATING!!
    I think this crating thing has become a form of animal abuse, and it is fostered by those in the animal world who should certainly know better! I’ve seen and heard of it used for just about every “problem” one has with a pet, in particular dogs. If you have no recourse but to jail your dog in a cage for the length of your work day, it’s time to find him or her a better home.

  • Stone says:

    Ok. So I was looking to purchase a crate for my dog when I came upon this website. I don’t want to crate him but he is afraid of thunderstorms. This is not a problem if we are home as we can comfort him and monitor his behavior. We have tried “thundershirts” and various medications but none seem to work. Today I came home (2nd time in the last two weeks)and even though it was just rain (no thunder) my dog had urinated on the curtains & carpet, chewed up a garbage can & tore the foam topper, mattress pad, sheets & comforter to shreds. We really would rather he not be crated, but for fear of him hurting himself or further damaging the house, I am at a loss what to do. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Ps….he is about 9 years old and is an Alaskan Malamute/Border Collie mix. He was mostly an outdoor dog when we lived out west but since moving to the east coast and having diverse weather conditions, he mainly stays inside. He has always had the fear of thunder & other loud noises, but we have noticed it getting better since we brought him indoors until recently.

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