The effectiveness of crate training has always been a hot topic of debate in dog training circles.
“Crating” is the practice of confining a pet in a metal or plastic cage, about the same size as the dog, for a certain length of time.
Those who favor crate training maintain that dogs benefit from having a home of their own inside the home. This is a comfortable and familiar area that the dog can use as a safe haven from threatening noises and people.
Advocates of crating would argue in favor of the usefulness of crates during house training. They insist that dogs will wait until they are released to relieve themselves instead of soiling their “house”, where they spend much of their time.
Those who oppose this technique argue that it denies the dog his opportunity to explore. The animal is unable to satisfy his natural instinct to familiarize himself with his surroundings.
Another argument against crate training is that often times puppies will roll around and play in their waste causing a bigger mess than they would have otherwise. Some would argue that crating is used not as much for the good of the dog as for the benefit of the owner.
Those on both sides of this issue present some valid points. Limited studies have been conducted and the results are as varied as the opinions above. If done properly, crating should not adversely affect the animal and could prove useful in training.
Even those in favor of crate training agree that extended confinement is unhealthy for the animal. Lack of exercise and the inability to relieve themselves for long periods of time are both potentially harmful to the dog. More than two hours at a time in the crate is considered too long.
Arguments against crating include the risk of injury to a dog that becomes agitated and tries to escape. The crate should be inspected for safety and durability prior to being used. Make sure the crate will not come apart or collapse if the dog begins thrashing around. Never place the crate in an area that might cause it to tip over.
Another possible advantage of crate training is that it may be easier for the dog to tolerate travel. The experience of being in a car or plane may not be as stressful with the familiar and safe surroundings of their crate.
Opponents of crating would advise leaving pets at home unless it’s absolutely necessary. Short trips are sometimes unavoidable, such as the vet, but animals are always more comfortable in a setting they are familiar with. When transporting your pet becomes necessary, make sure the crate is of good quality and that nothing can fall into or out of it.
Opinions on this type of training will continue to be split down the middle. Take the time to observe how your pet reacts and base your decision on what you see. As time goes by, leave the crate door open and see if your dog really is comforted by the crate or if they avoid it altogether. Your dog’s opinion may be the one that matters most.