In recent years there has been a large increase in the number of dog trainers and behaviourists that recommend the use of a crate to solve behaviour and training problems.
The idea is that you introduce your dog to the crate, which they should come to regard as their den. The theory follows that you then lock them in their “den” when you are out so that they can’t do any damage and feel secure while they are alone.
This may sound like an excellent theory until you examine it in greater detail. Firstly, when the door is locked, the status of the crate is changed from a den to a very small prison. Secondly, it is very unlikely that any behaviour problems will be solved, they may in fact be made far worse.
The trouble with making the behaviour worse is that a vicious circle will be generated that is very difficult to get out of. As the problem gets worse, the crate is used more often – leading to a worsening of the problem, and more use of the crate and so the circle is never broken. The crate is used as a matter of course and the dog continues to suffer.
Crates were originally intended to be used rather like playpens for children, somewhere that the puppy/dog could play safely. Recently crates have developed into an instant crutch for owners. Using the crate means that there is no need for owners to understand their dogs, they simply lock the dog away when they can’t cope with their behaviour.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t do anything for the dog, it doesn’t teach them anything other than when they are alone they must be confined. Once resigned to their fate, dogs can become depressed and lethargic, leading the owner to believe the crate has quietened their dog down.
There are many more humane ways to solve problems other than crating. The big advantage of humane methods is that they tackle the cause of the problem rather than the effect of it. This means that once the problem is gone, it is gone for good and you won’t make the problems worse or risk subjecting your dog to depression through confinement in the process.
Courtesy of Animals in Mind Charity www.animalsinmind.org.uk.