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Why I Hate Crates


The following post was originally published by Karen on KP’s Dog Blog, November 19, 2007.

Whenever I’m at the dog park, inevitably I’ll hear someone talking about putting their dog in a crate or even exclaiming, “Oh, my dog LOVES his crate!” At that moment, my hackles go up big-time, and I want to say, à la Saturday Night Live’s Church Lady, “Well, isn’t that convenient!”

Of course, it’s highly convenient to lock your dog in a box when you’re too busy or stressed out to deal with misbehavior or rambunctiousness. “Oh,” they’ll say, “dogs are den animals. A crate is exactly like a den and being in it makes them feel secure.” What they always so conveniently gloss over is the fact that a den doesn’t come with a locked door. In a den, you can come and go as you please.

It boggles my mind that people can be so obtuse about something so obvious. Birds hate to be caged, lions in the circus hate being in cages, humans hate being behind bars … why should it be any different with dogs? Oh, wait—there is one big difference: Dogs are the only animals willing to do ANYTHING for someone they love. And that includes tolerating being locked inside a cage.

Dogs are stoic and they love unconditionally and they want to please their guardians, which is a perfect recipe for abusive treatment. People take full advantage of their dogs’ desire to please and then they even twist it around and tell everyone that their dog enjoys being taken advantage of. It would be like a controlling husband saying, “Oh, my wife LOVES to stay home every night,” when in reality, he won’t permit her to go out.

I wish people would think for themselves and stop taking everything that their veterinarian or their dog trainer or the pet store sales clerk says as gospel. Vets and trainers and sales clerks can have ulterior motives or be uninformed or even mean. Common sense is really the bottom line. Does it make sense to say, “My dog LOVES to be locked inside a cage”? You can put a soft bed in there, and you can throw in some toys and treats, and you can “acclimate” your dog to the crate, but you can’t change the basic fact that the dog is locked up with very little space to move around in.

I wish crates had never been invented. I shudder at their current popularity. I’ve taken care of eight dogs, half of whom came to me as puppies and I never made a single one of them stay in a crate. You puppyproof your house and you train your dogs (getting help as needed) and you stop aspiring to Better Homes and Gardens. That’s all.

Sure, I’ve still got some shredded books and furniture as mementos of the puppy eras. But who cares? My dogs’ liberty and comfort and well-being mean far more to me than my material possessions. If you agree and would like to help counteract this pernicious trend, please order some of PETA’s anti-crating posters and leaflets, like the one accompanying this post.

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  • darci says:

    Crates are a cage. A locked CAGE. Why would you put your pet, your beloved pet, in a LOCKED CAGE. If there is a fire or other emergency they have NO DEFENSE. They are STUCK.

  • Christine says:

    When I first got my puppy everyone told me how I needed to crate my puppy. At first i didnt listen and decide to let my puppy sleep in bed with me and my husband. He was constantly peeing in our bed and playing throughout the night. I then decided to give the crate a try ( if u think about it, its kinda like a crib). It was great to potty train him, but i do not think they should always be crated. i started to let him back in our bed after 2 monthes. I leave the crate in our bedroom with the door always open. But i cringe at the tought of people locking them up all day and all night! ALSO people say the crate should be big enough for the to stand up and turn and they say dogs dislike bigger crates… I bought my dog a large crate for his size and a large bed … HE LOVES the extra room and goes into the crate daily for naps or when he wants his quiet time! Do not cram your dog into a tiny crate please!

  • Gypsy says:

    I took the doors of our crate over twelve months ago, I tried taking it down but my dog went nuts and was not happy until I put it up again, she goes in when she want to sleep in the daytime or if visitor arrive she takes off and lies in her crate herself obviously very intelligent and want a bit of quite her time. She is free to roam outside, and the whole house any time day or night and sleeps upstairs at night she is very happy. I would to take it down as it takes up a lot of room but not at the expense of making my dog unhappy