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Why I Hate Crates

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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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  • Liz S says:

    I have a 2 year old rescue dog who runs each morning for about an hour with me and comes to work with me 4 out of 5 days. I crate him at night. We live in Sydney and crating isn’t as popular here as it is in the US however at night time or when the cleaner is in, crating has been a godsend. And I refuse to believe that it is abusive to crate a dog at night – Peanut has a great life and is a very happy and healthy dog. The problem with organisations such as PETA is that there is not common sense. Clearly I am not an abusive animal owner however you are basically saying that I shouldn’t have a dog if I need to crate him at night. That is absolute bullocks. What would you prefer, no one has dogs and these animals are put down? I understand what you mean with putting dogs in crates all day – but this is clearly abuse. Putting a dog in a crate for a couple of hours? That, in my opinion, is not.
    We confine our children in cots – they are basically locked in (can they get out freely??) and this is considered fine. I see crating my dog at night as being the same.
    Maybe focus your efforts on the dogs bred to fight, dogs who are beaten, puppy farming, dogs being abandoned straight after Xmas..

  • Savannah says:

    I LOVE crates, I have 3 in my house, 2 in the car and some more up in the attic. I do dog shows with my dogs and crates are great for them. In fact, it’s in the AKC rule book that dogs should be crated when not in the ring. At home, my dogs sleep in the crates, and nap in them too! They LOVE them too! Being in a crate means being at a dog show or going for a ride! I’m a dog trainer and ALL my client LOVE their crate too!

  • Alexa says:

    Hysterical, overwrought and completely uninformed. Crating a dog for a couple hours a day is not abusive, mean, harsh or upsetting. Equating proper crate training to abandoning a dog in his crate for 16 hours a day is downright dishonest.

  • Tara says:

    With that note you should probably leave your front door open as well as the gate to the back yard. Please stop closing the door to your car while giving them a ride because, heaven forbid, a dog should never feel locked up. Leashes are disgusting as well. While I understand the concern with people using crates as ways to not have to deal with their dog, its PETA logic like yours that turn me off from this entire organization.

  • Morgan says:

    I know this is an old article but I am now reading it. My question is if crates are so bad and dogs hate crates so much, why is it that my parents 6 year old sheltie sleeps in his crate every night on his own. THere is no gate on the front we removed the front of it years ago. And he has free range to the whole house every day and every night. He starts out sleeping on the bed at night and half way through he ends up getting off and going in his crate to sleep. I would imagine if being in a crate was such a horrible thing that he wouldn’t go near his crate he would actually avoid being around it. Just my opinion I think its the way you train them and get them used to things just like everything else you do with your dog. Walking them on a leash restraining them in the car with a seat belt, everything you do with your dog is training them, there is nothing wrong with Crating you dog if you do it in a humane way and make sure that they aren’t in there for hours and hours. Like I said out 6 year old sheltie LOVES his crate, and he doesn’t HAVE to go in it. Our rescue dog goes in a crate to sleep and he was never even put in crate by any of us.

  • Me says:

    I completely agree with you I have a wolfdog and I have never crated him, all the trainers said I needed to so he would know I was and before anyone spews any hatred about him hes the sweetest kindest dog I have ever owned and our little JRT is more of a terror hehe. Back to the topic crating is horrible its worst then a prison its a little cage you cant even walk around in imagine being forced into a cage that was 2 feet wide and 6 feet long for 6-8 hours let out play and back in? omg monster! that would be my thought, although it has a downside, I cant leave town because my wolfdog wont eat without me too much love maybe I should have crated he would be relieved when I vacationed!

  • Christy Schaar says:

    I HATE CRATES! So, good blog. I recently got into a nasty arguement with my neighbor and her mother, Cruella DeVil. It was about them crating their 2 poor pitbulls ALL DAY! I decided I couldnt take it anymore, them hearing them cry in their CAGE, ALL DAY AND NIGHT! These dogs get a walk of only 10-12 min. twice a day. These are the most gentle loving dogs, it’s makes me soooo mad. How can someone see anything right with confining an animal to a wire cage for extended periods of time without so much as towel for bedding. My cats have destroyed my furniture and carpet, and never, ever would I even think of putting them in a cage. How could someone do that to two large dogs? Its evil. Im glad that there are good hearted people in this world with common sense. Its nice to see that I am not alone in my views, though my husband and neighbors think Im crazy. Im not, I just CARE!

  • Therese says:

    This was such a relief to read!!! I just rescued a dog two weeks ago, a one-year old and everyone is telling me how much dogs love being crated! Well, i put her in the stupid crate twice, two hours each time, and the second time she’s opened it and greeted me at the door when i got home…nothing was damaged, so the crate is now in storage!!! I keep thinking of that scene in gremlins where the guy doing all the lab experiments on them ended up locked in a cage w/a needle in his butt!!! (ffs…)

  • Helen says:

    Sorry…one additional thing because I was reading others responses….a crate without a door is a VERY different thing to a crate with a door…regardless of whether it is a cage designed for human beings or a cage designed for a dog….the door makes all the difference…some people had mentioned their dog loves their crate with no door…well obviously because a crate with no door is just a bed with a roof…a crate with a door is simply a cell…pretty significant difference IMHO.

  • Helen says:

    Thank you for this post. Just got a new beagle puppy (9 weeks old) and have been having some problems with him biting peoples trouser legs and ankles and refusing to stop despite pulling on his collar/ ignoring him/ turning away from him etc. Someone suggested that I should crate him. Intuitively I was against this practice but your post convinced me! If you have any alternative suggestions I would love to hear from you…thanks.

  • Vanessa says:

    I recently adopted a wonderful pit bull that was crated 16 HOURS A DAY for her entire life (she’s about 3 years old). This is clearly an abusive situation–however, because of the current popularity of crating, the previous owners thought that was entirely normal, and suggested that I continue to crate her. I tried to put her in her crate (they said she “loved it”), and she immediately pulled away in fear. I never tried again, and it turns out that she is in no way destructive, and did not need a crate at all! She is a much happier dog ( i do think all of that time in a crate did give her some long term behavioral quirks i’ve been working on). There is a time and a place for short-term use of crates (to keep them out of danger for example), but I would say that 75% of the people that use crates are misusing them.

  • Susan says:

    I also try to convince people who are interested in getting a dog, to adopt two.

    Dogs are pack animals, and they generally HATE being alone. I feel guilty whenever I go to work, but at least I know my two doggies have each other. A petsitter comes by around lunch time to let them go potty and play for 30 minutes. My husband & I usually walk them twice daily- before & after work.

    We used baby gates to keep them in our (large) kitchen when they were small puppies. (Now they have the run of the house!) They caught on to the “pee pads” very quickly. They do have an extra large “den” which we have never locked them in. We put pillows and blankets inside, and they enjoy having the space, especially when we’re not home…we come home & often find them snuggled together there, or on the couch.

    Taking care of two dogs is not much more work than one, and they’re so much better socialized & happier. I feel bad when we meet a dog that doesn’t know how to react to other friendly, but well behaved dogs.

    Thank you for all your good advice!

  • Shari says:

    WHen i go to pet sections of stores, or pet stores, I see how small some of the cages they sell are…By selling cages this small people are placing animals in the cheapest smallest cage..People think b/c their pet is small they should hvae the smaller cage…I HATE CAGES…for all animals…It breaks my heart

  • Sarah says:

    Wow, this post really evoked a lot of strong feelings. I think crating depends on the dog and the situation, the problem with crate training is people abuse it. I have three dogs, one refused the crate from day one and we never forced him into it, his “crate” is under the bed, strange but he sleeps there, keeps toys there and feels safe there. The other two went into the crates on their own as pups and were only locked in at night when they were right next to the bed and i could hear them if they needed out and when they were confined it was for very short time frames, 2 hours max. Now they they are adults, they both continue to use their crates daily and completely on their own, but are never locked in. When left for extended periods of time they are gated in the kitchen & dining room with their open crates inside the area and I often come home to find them in their crates. I cringe when I hear people say the leave their dogs in crates all day long, because that is not fair, but crates are preached so much to the masses, its difficult for people to even think there are alternative methods. Again, it depends on the situation, with some dogs and some circumstances crates can work if used correctly, but again, people take that and run with it and no dog wants to be in a crate all day or punished with a crate. Anyway, great post, brings up good points and food for thought, but I have to think if my dogs continue to use their crates on their own, i’ll leave them around for now :)

  • cheryl says:

    Everyone has their own opnion on crates…I for one do not believe they are cruel. I DO believe that when a puppy is home alone…there are so many dangers if you give them free roam. After all 3 of my dogs were past puppy chewing stage and I could trust that they would not get into anything…I give the free roam of the house. Keeping a dog in a crate for hours on end is another story..that is cruel.

  • Matt says:

    Crate training like anything else–requires some common sense. I have 5 dogs here, work with dog rescue. I have several crates all over my house. the dogs, go in and out. The doors are never closed. However–If, I have a repair person come in, or something like that, all I have to do is say “Crate”–and everyone of my dogs will find a crate, go into it. and then, I will lock the door for a few minutes–while the repair person comes inside–then–they are all out again. Yeah–maybe a great dog trainer, would teach all the dogs to greet the repair man. That is not going to happen here, and many of the people that have to come in and out, are terrified of dogs–so-crate training has lots of positive benefits.

  • Ken says:

    Okay. Nobody wants to crate their dogs. That’s a given. It was be just peachy if we could just leave our dogs out in a big field with a bunch of treats and other dogs so they could play all day long, chase cats and bunnies, and come and go as they please…

    Fantasy Island doesn’t exist though, and dog owners face a little something called “reality.” Read and really be aware of what pro-crate owners tell you. There is a laundry list of benefits of the crate, for both the dogs health and safety, and your home and furniture not being destroyed. You can’t get inside the mind or psyche of an animal. No matter how many studies, experiments, tests, observation, etc. you do, you’ll never really know if crates really are damaging to a dog’s emotional/phsyical health. As humans, we shouldn’t assume other species think/behave/emote like humans. Seems rational…

    In your article you seem to demonize crates, as well as loving dog owners that utilize (not over-use) them. Is it bad to use the crate as punishment? Regularly, yes. Is it probably not a good idea to leave a dog in a crate for 8+ hours? Of course. However, for housebreaking, or a medical condition, and many other exceptions, short term use of the crate is beneficial and NOT harmful.

    Be practical though folks. Don’t stick a 125lb Bernese into a crate built for a Terrier.

    I have a 50 lb shep/lab mix with one of those so-called “beds” you mentioned in your article. I crated her for the first few months just for discipline and housebreaking. She no longer goes in the house, is extremely receptive, and most importantly… She is a VERY happy dog!!

  • Chas says:

    I think the main problem is how crates are used. My cairn terrier is another one that loves his crate. Of course it doesn’t have a door on it – it’s his safe place, his bed, his little home.

    Though we’ve never used the door, it did become necessary when he had spinal surgery to correct a puppyhood problem. We were told he must be crated for 4 weeks otherwise he could end up paralyzed – the spine had to have time to heal. It was no different than a person being confined to a hospital bed.

    To keep our dog’s life interesting I carried him outside for potty breaks every 3 hours, bought him a fountain and put it on the floor in front of his door, rotated his toys daily, gave him massages daily, played “animal friendly” DVDs and CDs for him (he loved “The Wizard of Oz”!), moved the crate to different rooms so he could watch birds at the window or have quiet time to sleep… and the list goes on. I even quit my full time job to stay home with him. Because the crate was his normal bed, he was indifferent to the door being closed. Now that he is recovered, the door is once again sitting in the closet.

    Crates *can* have their uses as a safe place (especially for little dogs that are nervous about being accidentally stepped on) for sleep or as a *sick bed*. I agree that many, many people abuse them, but those are the same people that will find some way to neglect their dog in some other way. I’ve always believed that animals have the same rights to health and happiness as humans.

    Thanks for bringing this up.

  • Meghan C. says:

    Now, I am 14 and I have never realized how cruel crates are, so thank you!I have never used one (too expensive,anyway), but I was planning to.Before I got my dog, I read all sorts of books on dog care, and pretty much all of them said to get a crate…thanks!I’ll pass this on to my dog-owning friends. :-)

  • Amanda Goodwin says:

    My dog has a crate but it is NEVER closed.. I actually even took the door out since i dont need it… She just loves to sleep in it when i am gone or at night but she can always get out of it whenever she wants.. I hope to one day allow her to sleep in bed with me at night but she is still just a puppy and we are working on potty training and since my bedroom is the only room with carpet she is not allowed in there yet but otherwise the rest of the house is hers…..

  • Tricia says:

    Just wanted to add an example of the detriment that a crate can do to a dog.

    My previous dog, Thunder, had a crate his whole life that I kept next to my bed. The door was NEVER closed on the crate–it was his den, not a cage. We referred to it as his “house” and when he was tired or when it was storming outside, he went in there as a source of comfort. He loved his house (“crate”) because he had never been locked in it….

    When Thunder was 12 years old he had emergency surgery for bloating. After being stitched up he had to stay at the hospital for two days before we could take him home. While there, the doctors insisted that he be crated so that he rest and not rupture his stitches etc. (I still wonder whether it was actually for their convenience or not…) My poor baby spent two days locked in a cage with only minimal potty breaks. I thought at the time that it would be okay since he was drugged up with painkillers anyway.

    Anyhow, after Thunder came home and even after he had fully recovered (physically) from his surgery, he would never go in his house again. From the time that he returned from the hospital until the day he died, he wouldn’t go in there to sleep, nor when it was storming or even when we encouraged it with treats….he had been psychologically damaged :(

  • simara says:

    good point and well said!

  • Britanie Heath says:

    I have a miniature schnauzer and have had her since she was 8 wks. I would keep her in a crate at night so that she would not soil my carpets all night long. It was tough at first, but now we notice that when she is tired she will walk into her crate and fall asleep. I believe that crates, if not used abusively, are a source of comfort, similiar to a bedroom. It becomes their place. It also brings structure to the dog’s lifestyle by telling them that they do not rule the house, you do.

    KP’s Response:

    Hi Britanie,
    Please read my blog post called “But He LOVES his crate!” here: http://blog.helpinganimals.com/2008/03/but_he_loves_his_crate.php, then we’ll talk.
    KP

  • Stella says:

    I understand disliking it when people use a dog crate for what they shouldn’t be used for but you are only throwing around assumptions about dogs overall when you say none of them like their crate.
    My dog is 20 pounds and stays in her crate whenever I leave the house. There is no door on her crate to close because I found that when I leave my house she automatically goes to her crate and stays there until I get back. I got the crate for her so she could have her own space and she really enjoys having it. She can leave the crate anytime she wants and she knows that but she still likes to stay in her crate when I’m not there. If she didn’t like it she wouldn’t stay there.
    You don’t know every single dog in the world and you don’t know every single situation so perhaps instead of hating crates you should project your hatred towards those who misuse crates.

    >>>KP’s Response:

    Hi Stella,
    I don’t have a problem with crates that don’t have doors on them!
    KP

  • Alexis says:

    Yes, I agree that crates are too often used for the convenience of the owner.. and really, if used for short periods, is that such a terrible thing? My girl gets to play in the woods for hours everyday but we do have to work so for 3 hours she is in the kennel. Otherwise, she could eat electrical cords or other dangerous things. She goes in her crate gets a treat and takes a nap… not hardly abuse I would say. You should maybe focus your energies on the real problem with crates and that is leaving dogs in them for too long and merely using it as a tool to get your dog ‘out of your hair’ when what they really just need is exercise. So many things in this world need changing and so many animals need saving… so why waste your time on the trivial?
    PS.. I just read in another article on PETA about how your dog should eat first before you. You as a human must be dominant over your dog (and that means eating first and going through a door way first, for example). If you aren’t dominant then your dog is, and we’ve all seen the problems that can come from that. Namely, dogs being put down because they bite someone or owners surrendering their dogs because they are too much too handle. Sometimes PETA really misses the point.

    KP’s Response:

    Hi Alexis,
    The problem is that to me, three hours is too long in a crate. So I’m already focusing on the problem of leaving dogs in crates too long. Did you know that a lot of animal shelters are now requiring adopters to use crates on their dogs? And some of these people are leaving their dogs in crates for 22 hours a day. The dog “acts crazy” when he or she comes out of the crate, so back into the crate the dog goes. It’s a fate worse than death, in my opinion. A slow form of torture. Did you know that crates are smaller than lab cages? Hideous. And completely unnecessary if you just put a little effort into training and monitoring and puppyproofing.
    The eating first issue is controversial, and there are definitely two ways of looking at it. I don’t think it’s the biggest issue in dog training. You could be fixing their food and just pretend to eat something, or drink a cup of coffee and look like the pack leader that way, but you don’t have to cook a big meal and sit down and eat it in front of your hungry dog every night. I think that’s going too far.
    KP

  • Faith says:

    Hey,

    Let’s not mince words. Being that this is a Peta website, why don’t you tell all the lovely commenters that you would prefer that domesticated dogs never existed. You speak about crate users as though they were the devil incarnate, but you (Peta)really think any dog owner is disgusting, so why don’t you speak the truth. Why not tell all the lovely dog owners who vouch for this site that Peta is trying to ban domesticated dogs completely, not just pitbulls!

    >>>KP’s Response:

    Hi Faith,
    I’m not sure where you got your information, but gosh, 50 percent of my coworkers have dogs, so it doesn’t appear to make any sense. What PETA wants to ban is animal suffering, pure and simple. PETA wants every dog to have a happy home too. What’s wrong with that?
    KP

  • Alex says:

    My one dog has actually learned to close his crate door and often does that while where home and just sleeps in his crate. I havnt locked my dogs crates since they were puppies but I do believe especially for my youngest dog that he enjoys his time in his crate since we give him his time to do what he wishes and more likely then not he opens his crate walks in and lets the door close. I agree with you that people that dont know how to use a crate properly can be very neglectful to their dogs but for the most part, or the case with most of the dog owners i know anyway, the dogs enjoy their crates very much so.

    >>>KP’s Response:

    Hi Alex,
    Well, as you’ve described it here, your dog closes the door himself (and I doubt if he has the dexterity to lock himself in). That’s very different from being locked in by someone else for an indeterminant amount of time. It’s kind of like the difference between going on a voluntary fast and being intentionally starved. There’s a big psychological difference, even thought the circumstances are similar.
    KP

  • Alex says:

    I find this blog to be very incorrect, or at least incorrect with the experiences Ive had.The crate is a very efficient tool, If used correctly. Both my dogs infact love their crates and prefer to sleep in there than anywhere else in the house. I know lots of dog owners that dont force their dogs into crates and still the dog continues to sleep in them. The crate isnt suppose to be a punishing tool. Its meant to be a dogs safe place. Where they can feel most comfortable.

    >>>KP’s Response:

    Hi Alex,
    I’m sure that’s true as long as the door is left open, but don’t try to tell me that any dog LOVES to be locked inside a cage. If that’s what you think, then you aren’t really looking at it from your dog’s point of view. Forget about efficiency. How brainwashed does a dog have to become to LOVE being locked up? More likely, your dogs are just humoring you because they know that you like to see them locked inside their crates. Which is very sad.
    KP

  • dog crates says:

    I ABSOLUTELY agree with you…I will be saving this page to my favorites for sure.

  • Lisa says:

    I’m writing in response to your comments on my note. I actually take my dogs for two one-hour walks (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) and for a half hour when I get home in the evening (at 11:00 pm). I also have several different sized Kongs for both of my dogs that I fill with peanut butter and freeze. All of this is in addition to AT LEAST 30 minutes of play in the afternoon before I go to work. So I’m quite offended at your offhand remark that I don’t make enough time to exercise my dogs. And they have two laundry baskets filled with a variety of toys. And lest you misunderstand – I don’t crate my dogs all the time. I only crate my puppy when I’m leaving the house. I don’t crate him when I clean or go to the bathroom or do other activities that take a short amount of time. My second dog is not nearly as much of a follower as my first dog (who is my shadow) – and I spent time training him as I did the first dog. As for your comment about “dogs and cats living together” – it’s fine that you have a differing opinion; that’s what makes the world go around. They’re all rescued because I thought I should give them a better life than the one they would be living.
    I’m sure you won’t feel it necessary to post this message on the blog – it’s not intended as such. I just want you to understand that not everyone who disagrees with you is a boob who thinks animals are property and don’t put in the time and effort to take care of and love their animals.

    >>>KP’s Response:

    Hi Lisa,
    It sounds like you’re very happy with the status quo and not looking for ideas to improve the situation. However, if you were open to trying to find ways to avoid having to imprison your puppy in a small box for any amount of time, I would suggest that your walks with hiim, though lengthy, are not vigorous enough. If he is a high-energy-type dog, such as a herding breed, he might need an activity like flyball or agility to satisfy him enough to keep him from being destructive in the home.
    Alternatively, it may be that he’s getting enough physical exercise but not enough mental stimulation. You might try playing some games that stimulate his mind or teach him lots of things that will challenge him. (There are plenty of books and articles on how to stimulate your dog’s mind.) It turns out that mental activities can exhaust a dog as well as physical activities can.
    I would encourage you to “think outside the box,” so to speak, instead of just passively accepting that there’s no other way besides crating. As I said before, crates are a new phenomenon, and everyone managed without them for eons. You just need to get creative and believe that there’s another solution and you’ll find one if you look for it. I’m serious.
    KP

  • Elise Eaddy says:

    I have four boys and I used a playpen with all of them until they were about 3. When I needed to go to the bathroom, or clean the kitchen, or some other activity that meant I could not keep close supervision on them, I put them in a playpen. I did not think it cruel for my children and I don’t think it cruel for a dog. Eventually, the kids grew out of the playpen because they learned what behaviors were acceptable and what behaviors were harmful. Same with a dog. When I can’t supervise him and he hasn’t learned appropriate behavior, he is put in his crate. He will eventually learn how to behave and then the crate becomes unnecessary. I love my children much more than my dog, and I treated them in the same manner. It’s not cruel, it’s being responsible.

    >>>KP’s Response:

    Hi Elise!
    I wouldn’t object nearly as much to a playpen. In fact, I rented a playpen for my late cocker spaniel when he was recovering from disc surgery. A playpen is much, much roomier than a crate, it doesn’t have a cover over it, and whoever is in the playpen can see out in all directions. Crates are purposely designed to be cramped as a way of trying to make dogs “hold it” so that they won’t have to sit in their own waste. Kind of a mean concept, in my opinion. Why don’t you use the playpen with your dog instead of a crate if your sole concern is that he is going to get into trouble while you go to the bathroom or clean the kitchen? Actually, a normal puppy would be more likely to follow you into the bathroom and the kitchen, so you could, in fact, continue to supervise, but if you insist on confinement, how about trying a less extreme form of confinement?
    KP

  • Lisa says:

    I agree with chelle (11/27/2007). I work at nights, so I’m home all day with my dogs (I switched jobs when I decided to bring a dog home because I wanted to spend time with it). It was very helpful with potty training, and it kept her safe when I was away for short periods of time (emphasis on the short periods). Even with puppy-proofing your home, you can’t get rid of ALL the hazards. And you wouldn’t leave your infant child out of its crib in a room when you left the house, would you? My dog has a crate in the house and eats her meals there. I stopped crating her when I left the house (and she was only crated for 3 hours; from the time I left the house to go to work until the time my husband came home from work) when she was 1.5 yrs old (she’s now 2.5 yrs).

    When I adopted my second dog, we found that he had a totally different attention span than my first dog. Not to mention that he eats EVERYTHING. If I didn’t crate him when we went out, he would be dead from some sort of blockage. He’s 8 months old, and I can’t imagine what he would do if left to his own devices. Also, he likes to “play” with the cats (like they’re little dogs); he still doesn’t get it when we try to train him to leave them alone. The crate protects the cats as well when I’m not home.

    Believe it or not, both crates stay open during the day when I’m home and the dogs play in them. Like I said, they eat all their meals there and the doors are left open. Even the cats go in there every now and then to chill out.

    I’m a good animal mother — I take my dogs for several walks during the day, play with them for at least 30 minutes in the back yard, give them tons of attention and love, and still feel that crating my puppy is in his best interest.

    The problem with crates (as with most other things when it comes to animals), is that often people don’t have the proper knowledge on how to use things or train their animals. People who don’t understand how to use crates and leave their dogs unattended and locked up for more than 8 hours a day and don’t give them any love usually don’t have dogs because they think of them as kids — they think of them as property. Those are the people who shouldn’t have pets to begin with.

    Hi Lisa!
    Thanks for writing.
    I have to ask you: How long were those morning walks? (Or were they even in the morning?) If they were adequate, even a young dog would sleep for the better part of three hours afterwards. So I have a feeling that by “walk” you meant “10 minutes” or “twice around the block.” That’s certainly not enough to keep a dog from “eating everything.”
    And what about interactive toys? Did your second dog have a Kong stuffed with peanut butter when you left the house? That would’ve sustained his interest for a long time.
    I just don’t buy the “there’s no other way” routine. Crates have only been in existence for a short time, and before that, people, including me, did fine without them. I raised three different puppies without resorting to a crate.
    And one other thing: I’m sorry, but I don’t believe in trying to force dogs and cats to get along if you have to resort to cruelty, which, by definition, includes imprisonment inside a box.
    KP

  • CAROLINE says:

    I love your blog and agree with most things you say. And I see all your posts are from people who agree with you, “isn’t that convenient?” but I want to address this issue because there are two sides to every story. If we do not entertain all sides, then we are no better than a dictatorship.
    My 6 year old chocolate lab goes into his crate as he wishes. I do not lock it. I leave it wide open for him to come and go as he pleases. I say crate, but it is attractively decorated to mimic an end table. When there are many noises (such as fireworks on the 4th of July) he goes into his crate. I believe it is his “den behavior” that pulls him to it. My question, then, is are you opposed to the instinctive behaviors as well? Or is it just the mere cruelty of locking up an animal and not exercising them to which you are opposed? I do not believe in persecuting that which is a natural inclination in an animal. Which is probably why I don’t get mad at Ben anymore for peeing on the Christmas tree every year for the past 6 years.
    I completely agree with your blog about your running partner. Ben gets me out of bed on cold mornings just to plug in a mere 4 miles. But it is worth it.
    I appreciate you considering an alternate view.

    >>>KP’s Response:

    Hi Caroline!
    So far, I’ve posted every comment I’ve received, with the exception of spam and duplicates, and some of them have taken issue with my ideas. Go back and check–you’ll see quite a few.
    Anyway, no, I have no objection at all to providing a dog with a small “den” to crawl into–as long as the dog isn’t locked inside it. I don’t think we disagree at all.
    KP

  • Dara says:

    I agree with your article about dogs hating to be crated, and I feel they are never a good tool for training. However, I am glad they exist. No one is a perfect dog mom or dad, and I used a crate when my dog was young. I got a pit bull from a relative with very little money whose dog accidentaly got pregnant from its son. They found no homes for a single dog, and after I took the runt, there were only two survivors after an outbreak of parvo. I didn’t have the perfect setting for an animal with such energy because I don’t have a ton of money and am a full time student with a 30 hour work week. I didn’t start crating her until she ripped up carpet in 4 rooms, and distroyed everything you could imagine. She is more important than my things, but eventually you can’t afford to replace everything. The more important thing, no matter how I tried to puppy proof, I never had enough time, and she has gotten ahold of very dangerous items that passed through her digestive system, and I was always afraid of her gatting something while I was away. I went through several positive reinforcement training programs with her, and bought so many thing to try and entertain her at home its ridiculous. I tried rotating her toys, leaving all of them, leaving only a couple, full house access, one or two rooms, special food and treats. I already played with her for 45 minutes a day, kept doing training exercises daily for short periods of time. She is very stubborn, and also deaf, so training was a chore. Now, she is a wonderful dog, and the spot where her crate used to be is a fluffy dog bed, but at the time I couldn’t find a better option to keep her and my house safe. Also, I always keep one in my trunk in case I run into a large injured animal on the road.

    >>>KP’s Response:

    Hi Dara!
    Thanks for writing.
    I also keep a crate in my car in case I find an injured animal on the road–that’s another matter entirely.
    I’m wondering how much you walked your little pit bull when you first got her. Play sessions are fun, but there’s nothing like a serious brisk walk for 45 minutes every morning to tire a dog out. Sometimes that’s all it takes to improve behavior.
    I’m also wondering how long you left her alone. She probably just needed a playmate to keep her occupied.
    I’m not sure what you meant by “I never had enough time [to puppyproof]”–that seems like it should have been a very high priority, and it doesn’t take that long to do.
    In any case, I’m glad that everything is OK now.
    KP

  • Christie says:

    I was surprised when I happened upon this blog. I have always used crates to housetrain my puppies (I have had 7 now over the years) to good effect. Right now, we have a little French bulldog puppy and he sleeps with my daughter in her bed. But during the day while she is in school, if I need to run out for a bit, I put the little guy in a crate. I believe it is the safest thing to do with him. And I seriously doubt that locking him in a small room with linoleum floors would make him any happier, and he could get into trouble by chewing things he shouldn’t. When I crate him, never more than 3 hours but usually less than that, I know he is unhappy but also safe. Otherwise, I believe that he could hurt himself and would still be unhappy. We have two other dogs that will happily be his companions when he is bigger (one is a mastiff and one a newfy mix). Both were crate trained for a brief time and now sleep on beds and can stay in the house and/or the yard when we are away. Crates are a bummer, esp for long periods of time, but they have their place. Crates can also make dogs that are carsick feel better.

    As for the comment that we should take our dogs everywhere in the same manner we take our kids, that is ill conceived. Dogs, as much as we wish they were, are not welcome in most establishments. And leaving them in the car can be fatal if the weather is warm even a little bit. My mastiff does not like riding in the car and prefers to sleep on his favorite chair while we are gone. My newfy LOVES car rides and is welcome to come along as long as the weather is about 50 degrees or cooler. Our puppy rides around with us all the time unless we are going inside somewhere, and then we must leave him at home. Even if we love our pups as if they were our children, there are very real limitations to how we manage them, sadly enough.

    But it is so great that so many care about the well being of our best friends. It warms my heart and makes me feel hope for the human race.

    >>>KP’s Response:

    Hi Christie,
    Thanks for your comments. You said that your puppy is unhappy in the crate–doesn’t that bother you? Why don’t you experiment with other arrangements to see if you can find a way to keep him safe AND happy. I think crate manufacturers must be doing some serious fearmongering. Yes, puppies can get into trouble, but with a little bit of puppyproofing, they do OK.
    KP

  • Joelle Verdier says:

    Dear Karen,

    I am so happy to see that there are american people seeing how horrible it is to put dogs in cages.

    Being French, I had never seen, before coming to America, a dog in a cage, as this does not exist in France and may be also in the rest of Europe. I was very shocked. I kept on telling everyone, “This is madness, you put your dogs in cages”, and finding so abnormal that everybody found that normal.
    Many of these dogs were very mentally disturbed, of course. And then I found out that instead of getting the dogs out of the cages, taking them on long walks and training them kindly in good behaviour, people were giving their dogs drugs, some kind of canine Prozac.

    I am joining Peta, among other things, to help stop these barbarian customs of caging dogs, and declawing cats, two practices either unknown or forbidden in Europe.

    Sincerely, Joelle Verdier

  • Anonymous says:

    I have to disagree with the fact that no dog LOVES their crate. We adopted our dog from a shelter at 4 months old, we already had a crate at home so we put a bed and blankets in there and she has slept in there every night since we got her. We did not force her to, she chooses to. If she wants to take a nap during the day and she’s not on her bed downstairs, she is usually upstairs in her crate, alone.She is hardly ever alone in the house, we take her with anywhere we can and we work opposite shifts. When we do leave her alone we put her in her crate and she will either chew on a bone or sleep. My opinion is that if she did not like her crate why would she choose to be in it.

    >>>KP’s Response:

    Hi!
    It sounds like she was attracted to the open crate as a “den,” not expecting the door to be locked after she went in. I just hope that you aren’t locking her inside it, because that’s not the same as being in an open crate.
    And as I said, going into an open crate is not the same as “loving” being inside a locked crate. It just shows that she is willing to do what you want her to do.
    KP

  • jourpedo says:

    We have two dogs and until recently, we had crated them. We were crating them because they would chew everything. They took out three couches, and when i say that i mean they tore them to shreds. In addition to this they also destroyed some furniture. We tried gating them in the kitchen so they would be able to rome around but they would jump over the gates no matter how high they were. What would you consider a better solution to this. Now that I am no longer working and stay home with the dogs, they are never crated anymore.

    >>>KP’s Response:

    Hi Jourpedo!
    In response to your question: I consider separation anxiety a symptom of a problem that you have to get to the root of. Just locking a dog up in a crate does nothing to solve the problem from the dog’s point of view–it only makes the dog feel even more anxious and frustrated. Dogs with separation anxiety need some training and confidence-building and they need a lot of exercise every single day in the form of walking. They also need interactive toys when you’re not home, and some classical music would also be helpful.
    KP

  • Michelle says:

    THANK YOU KAREN!!!! Someone who finally makes some sense about NOT crating a dog!! It is NOT right to crate a dog!! I have a crate for my two little dogs and the door always stays propped open!! I do not lock my dogs in it. If they want to sleep in it then it is their choice. I keep them in the kitchen when I am gone and they sleep in their crate when they are tired but they are NEVER locked in it!! It is cruel!! I put the crate under the window in the kitchen and I keep the blinds open during the day. It makes them a nice window seat and they lay on top of the crate (which is padded with several soft blankets) and sun themselves.

    Thanks Karen!!

  • Abby says:

    You know, I agree with some of the points you make about crating and it not being a “natural” thing for most animals – but as with most things – one size does not fit all. We recently added a great dane puppy to our family, and she is the light of our life. She is not a dog, but a “furry child” to me. I know, I know – I am sure there are those that say this isn’t “normal” either – but hey, whatever ! We crated Daisy from the get go, having experience with dogs that have destroyed our home when we left them out b/c of their seperation anxiety. I read all the books and did everything in my power to make this a experience for her she would enjoy – rather than hate. I gave her tennis balls filled with peanut butter and treats, kongs stuffed full, toys whatever – this was a joy to her. She would run to her crate and sit in it and wait. Soon, Daisy outgrew the largest crate we could find at our local “mart” store – I couldn’t stand the thought of her being too big for it, and decided to leave her out when I would run errands for a short while. Daisy was a wreck – she ate the walls, wood, carpet, shoes, wallets – you name it, it was a chew toy. She was a disaster when we got home. I never, ever punished her – b/c I knew her bad choices were my fault. After a few weeks of moving large furniture and praying she wouldn’t eat anymore of our brand new house – I decided that she needed a new “crate”. We got her the biggest, nicest crate we could find – She has a fluffy bed, pillows, stuffed animals – we have neighbors come over and say, “Good gosh, our first apartment wasn’t that big” – but despite what you said in your entry, I feel that this IS the best thing for some dogs. Daisy has a “sister” a 4 year old lab, so she isn’t all alone when she is out. She just can’t handle the Pressure of that much freedom sometimes. I don’t regret crating her and I know it is the best thing for our family.

  • Germaine de Pibrac James says:

    Thank goodness someone is speaking out about crates. I think they’re barbaric and as much a part of an egocentric, disposable culture as “Ferberizing” your baby was(a now highly discredited practice of “training” small babies by ignoring their crying.) Living things take effort and accomodation if you want them in your life and life is sometimes messy and inconvenient. If you’re not prepared to deal with that, then you should have something less demanding like a teddy bear. Living things are not lifestyle accessories.

    >>>KP’s Response:

    Hi Germaine!
    I couldn’t have said it better. Well put!
    KP

  • Tara says:

    How refreshing to finally hear common sense on the subject of crates. I hate them and I have no doubt that our canine companions feel the same way.

    I’ve raised many puppies, all without crating them. You have to watch them every minute, just as you would small human children. We don’t lock our human children in cages. We have no right to do it to our canine children either.

  • lynn wolfe says:

    I’m all for crating. It keeps three of my four rescued dogs safe while I’m not at home. They stay out of the garbage, out of the cat’s face, and basically out of trouble.

    I leave the doors open while I’m home and often times that’s where I’ll find them.

    >>>KP’s Response:

    Hi Lynn!
    I really think you could get the same results if you just exercised your dogs every morning for 30 or 40 minutes, and they would be much, much happier.
    Also, there are plenty of dogproof garbage containers available–that certainly isn’t a very good reason to keep your dog locked up all day.
    And I’m sorry, but I have to say that finding your dog sleeping in an open crate doesn’t prove that the dog likes to be inside a locked crate.
    KP

  • chelle says:

    Response to crate post complaint.
    I really was disapointed by all the negative comments and judgmental attitude toward crate users without any thought to their benifits.
    1. There are many loving pet owners in this world who do not have the means or space to dog proof their home. Thank god they are willing to find a way to give a stray dog a home and make things work with what they have.
    2. Dogs like babies need protection from themselves when they are young. You would not leave a 2 year old unattended would you? Puppies can eat many many things that can harm them. Crates can be very good for the dogs own protection when they are puppies and you must be away.
    3. In a situation with more than one dog some dogs (especially those with behavioral problems that many people are willing to adopt anyway) DO feel more comfortable and secure in their crate, especially if you cannot be around to supervise the interaction between the dogs.
    4. When traveling in a car with a restless animal acrate can be a lifesaver.
    5. A recent situation of my own is a good example. I have an 8 year old hound mix. She had a fatty tumor than had to be removed. The tumor was under the muscle and was a tricky surgery that left an enormous cut and many stitches. I was instructed to keep her still for 2 weeks so she was only leashed walked and was not allowed to play with the other dogs. I left her in the bedroom when I went to work and after 4 days her wound was swollen and full of fluid. It continued to get worse until it split open and began to bleed again. I tried my best to keep her still but could not control her barking out the window at the mail man etc. Just her getting her heart rate up was enough to cause the wound to open up again. The wound would not close and we were going to have to put her out and cut her open again to relieve the presure if I could not find another solution. Thank god I remenbered her old crate that was in the attic. She stayed in the crate for 1 week for 8 hours a day with a bathroom break at 12 noon. She was very happy to have her own space where she could enjoy her bone she did not have to share with the other dogs. As with anything in life crates can be abused and I do not belive in using them for punishment or to leave animals in them for long periods of time unattended but I do believe they can be a very useful tool when used properly.

  • Traci says:

    I have never really thought about the cruelty of crates until now. I am 22 and our family dogs have always used crates, at least in the puppy stages. Our last dog, stopped using his after he was potty trained, only a few months, and he was fine. But our current dog, Cody, who is about 2.5yrs old, still uses his. When he was a puppy we locked him in at night, or when we went out (partly for the protection of our 3 cats); we don’t lock the door on him anymore, but he goes in it himself to sleep, or when he sees we are going out (even when the phone rings and my brother is not home, since he has seen that usually means we need to go pick him up), or when he knows he did something bad or is stressed out. We are afraid to remove it becasue he seems so attached to it. Also, he has some aggression issues but he usually goes in the crate when he is stressed and we know to leave him alone until he comes down; we are afraid taht without the crate to go to he will feel he has no choice but to act on his aggession. Any suggestions about what to do or how to go about removing the crate? Now that I think of it it does seem cruel to use one (locking him in i mean), but at this point would it be cruel to take it away since he chooses to use it humself, even though we no longer lock him in? I would really appreciate some advice. Thanks!

    >>>KP’s Response:

    Hi Traci!
    I think you’re right that removing the crate at this point would be detrimental, and it’s not doing any further harm since you’re not locking him inside it anymore.
    KP

  • Jessica says:

    Wonderful blog Karen! Crates bother me too, and people that a happy about them even more…
    My currently 8 month old Greek rescue puppy liked maps to chew on when I’m out, when I moved those UP in the world he moved on to comics (?, okay) and now I just give him a newspaper to shred. He’s happy, I’m happy.

    The Spanish sweetheart doggy that we have loooooves woolen sweaters and gnawed holes (small ones, but just in the middle of the front, smart, huh!) in five consecutive ones until WE got smart and let him have the last one. It’s as big as my bed now for all the holes and he sleeps on/in it too.

    Don’t you love a good excuse to buy something different?

    I do hope that many people take it to heart when they see the PETA posters and read the info…and read your blog! Thinking about all those lonely hearts locked up breaks mine. And then I’ve still got the easy end…

  • Laura Frisk says:

    Great blog Karen. I would never, ever, put my dogs in a crate. Sounds like torture to me, locked up in a box. All I can think of is those poor dogs locked in crates during Hurricane Katrina, all alone and unable to get out, with some of them dying before help came. Anything can happen, and to leave your dog locked in a crate is not only frightening for them, it’s just not safe.

  • Julia says:

    I agree. I hate crating. I’m 20 and got my first dog and I tried it because a lot of people said it was the perfect way to potty train but she just cried all the time and I felt horrible (i don’t want to make my little girl cry) so I stopped. Well heres my dilemma now…she still has accidents when I’m not home, and it’s not that I’m even gone that long but I do walk her right before I leave…She’s 7 months old…any suggestions on what to do…I can’t lock her in anywhere, another suggestion I got was to put a type of gate up where theres linoleum floors…but I don’t want to do that to her either. Any help so I don’t have to crate her and her accidents subside will be extremely appreciated.

    >>>KP’s Response:

    Hi Julia!
    Are you praising her when she does go to the bathroom outside? If you can take some delicious treats with you when you take her outside and praise her and give her a treat as soon as she relieves herself, she should soon get the message. Also, don’t say anything at all about her accidents indoors. She won’t understand if you try to “correct” her after the fact.
    When you clean up after her, be sure to use an enzyme product (Nature’s Miracle is a good one), which will make the urine smell disappear, even from her sensitive nose. That’s important because dogs tend to pee where they smell pee.
    You can also try “puppy pee pads,” which are available in pet supply stores–they are supposed to attract dogs to pee on them. If you ever see her pee on it, praise her just as you would if she peed outside.
    If all else fails, I don’t think it would be bad to confine her temporarily to a room with linoleum floors, as long as there is a window to look out of, enough room to walk around, some toys, and something soft to lie down on.
    KP

  • shirley moore says:

    dear Karen,
    Thank god someone else hates crates. I work with disturbed dogs and many of my ‘clients’ have been caged every day for hours and hours. Things aren’t much better for dogs left alone in gardens as though they were a burglar alarm or garden furniture. LONELINESS IS TORTURE FOR DOGS.
    Putting your dog in a crate is eliminating the symptom without removing the cause. (like cutting vocal chords). If a dog misbehaves he has a reason. It is our duty to identify the reason and remove it. If the problem arises when you leave the dog alone at home you haven’t followed the golden rule of getting your dog accustomed to things (all things) step by step. As soon as your pup or ex-shelter dog comes home you must make him feel relaxed and comfortable at home, he must feel that it is HIS place. When you then want to teach him to stay alone (NEVER more than 6 hours a day) then, after speaking gently to him and using a short phrase which you must use every time you have to go out without him,(like: wait here, I’ll be back soon) you leave him for 5 minutes, and when you come back you greet him with affection but without making a huge fuss – he must realise that being left alone is no big deal, he must be certain that you’ll come back and he must know that he has not been forgotten. Pay no attention to any mess he might have made, do not scold him if he’s eaten a carpet or chair (spread chilly pepper or garlic sauce on it next time. When he is comfortable with being left for 5 minutes, does no harm to the house or to himself, then lengthen your absence to 10 minutes, using the same method that is 1) talk to him gently and tell him you’ll be back soon (choose whatever words you like as long as they are always the same) 2)make sure he has his bed, fresh water and toys to play with. Never leave a dog in the dark, always somewhere with a window or, at night a soft light on, 3) greet him with affection when you get home without going overboard. When he is comfortable lengthen you absence to 15 minutes, so on and so forth up to max 6 hrs. Using this method I have NEVER had problems with dogs misbehaving while left alone in the 14 years I’ve been working with dogs.
    But it must be remembered that dogs need to feel wanted, being left alone means they feel unwanted. In the wild dogs have a purpose in the pack, a role, if they don’t they will be expelled and this is the worst thing that can happen to a dog. So make sure he really knows that you love him, you want him, you need him and that you are leaving him because you absolutely have to, NEVER more than 6 hrs a day. If your work keeps you away from home for more than 6 hours either 1) change your job, 2) take your dog with you of 3) get a dog sitter to spend at least one hour every day with your dog, taking him out for half an hour and cuddling him (or even just talking to him kindly) for the other half hour, possibly longer. If you do have to leave him alone for 6 hours every day you will have to avoid going out in the evening without him. After his 6 hr ordeal you must take him wherever you go.
    Tomographs taken of dogs’ limbic systems, dogs who spent most of their life alone, were exactly the same as the tomographs of men and women depressed and convinced of being total failures. THis is quite obvious to people who understand dog psycology, who know that dogs need to feel participant in the pack, useful and important. Being left alone is like saying ‘you’re no good to me, you have no reason to live’.

    >>>KP’s Response:

    Hi Shirley!
    Thank you so much for all the detailed instructions on how to make a dog feel comfortable staying alone and for spelling out the psychological damage that can be done by forcing dogs to spend too much time alone. You must be a WONDERFUL dog mom! I’m so glad you shared your observations and knowledge with us.
    KP

  • Lauren says:

    Hey!

    I love your blog, and I read it everyday! I have a question.. I have a year and half old pug, and she is crazy!!! We take trips in the car every weekend to my in laws house (about 40 min away). I can not keep my dog in the car without her being in a carrier. She is very small and unbalanced, and I am scared if we brake she would fly and get hurt. She also wouldn’t stay still and would be climbing all over. Is it bad to keep her in the carrier? I DO NOT keep her in a crate (in fact she sleeps in bed between my husband and I), and after reading your blog entry I felt horrible for using ht carrier in the car. What do you think of this? Should I use something else for her in the car? Thanks so much!! I really enjoy your blog!

    Lauren

    >>>KP’s Response:

    Hi Lauren!
    Thanks for being such a good dog mom, and thanks for your question! How about using a doggie seatbelt instead? They’re readily available online and at pet supply stores. Good luck!
    KP

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