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A Crate is a Cage is a Prison

Posted by at 5:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)


A crate is a cage is a prisonWhat 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 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 even smaller than most cages that are used to house dogs in laboratories.

In their new book Dogs Hate Crates: How Abusive Crate Training Hurts Dogs, Families & Society, Ray and Emma Lincoln discuss in detail the detrimental effects of crating on dogs’ well-being. They explain how the crating trend got started, what continues to fuel it, why it’s so harmful 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 psychological and behavioral symptoms caused by crating.

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: 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.” But dogs, wolves and other wild canids are not true “den animals.” 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 comparison between crates and dens.

Others will say, “But my dog loves his crate!” This statement defies logic. No animal on Earth “loves” to be caged. However, dogs do love people and will tolerate almost anything that their guardians force them to endure. According to some experts, dogs who appear to “love” their crate because they keep running back to it 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.

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 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, many dog-based industries would shrink. No wonder so many dog-related professionals have jumped on the crating bandwagon.

Crating is a cruel practice that has tormented and harmed millions of dogs and brought unhappiness, guilt, stress and confusion to millions of people who simply want what’s best for their canine companions. Dogs—and their guardians—deserve better.

This article was written by Karen Porreca, a senior director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

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4 Comments

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    fuzzibears says...

    July 17th, 2012, 8:19 pm

    We never crate our dogs. They have the run of the house and yard. The one exception is in the car, because it’s the only safe way to transport them. Not even one of those harness gizmos will protect them if you’re in a bad accident. A wire crate, secured with metal straps, will keep them from flying around the inside of your vehicle, or being thrown from the car. It’s also a good idea to have all their I.D. information attached to their crates, in case you are unconscious or taken away in an ambulance.

    Anne Grice says...

    December 15th, 2012, 5:32 pm

    I am amazed that anyone would buy a dog and do then put it in a crate at home. Why bother getting the dog ? It doesn’t make any sense.

    Kelley says...

    December 28th, 2012, 12:27 am

    I wish a human who crates their pet or pets could experience it first hand, just once, upward of 15 or 16 or even more hours without the ability to drink a sip of water or relieve themselves. Maybe there’d be less crating of animals if this were the case! Just saying.

    Rhian says...

    March 1st, 2013, 5:12 pm

    I’ve had plenty of dogs over the years and thought using crates were horrific for the dogs. However, my westie always enjoyed sleeping under something, either my bed, coffee table or work desk. He’s a very outgoing dog who is not afraid to introduce himself to people, he’s very obedient and a very happy dog. With this in mind I bought a cage for the office so he could come with me and had an area for himself. I didn’t force him in or lock it but put a new throw in it, he started to sleep in it of his own accord. At home he then continued at night to leave his bed and sleep under my bed, so I bought another crate for home. I did the same thing, just put a throw in it. He’d abandon his bed to sleep in the crate. So yes I’ve moved his bed into the crate and you’ll often see him sprawled out in it. I do not agree with locking dogs in them at all. But I do believe it is all based on how you use them.

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