Study shows dogs can see a crate as ‘home’

Published 6:57 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2019


K9 Corner

Almost every person involved with dogs will recommend a dog crate for the newly acquired puppy or dog. That includes breeders, people with show dogs, people who travel to different events such as hunting trials, water competitions, tracking tests and the list goes on.

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However, there are many non-pet owners who consider putting a dog in a crate is cruel and unusual punishment. Actually, a dog that is gently introduced to the crate, by first eating and sleeping inside it, with the door open and finally with the door closed, come to regard the crate as “their room” (“lair” in animal language).

I have kept in my files, a survey conducted by Nicki Meyer in 1972. She wanted to provide documented proof that the proper use of the dog crate has multiple important benefits. Even though it was a limited survey of only 265 pet owners, it is still an eye-opener to those not familiar with dog behavior.

The results mirror the reactions of many of my dog-loving readers, even today.

Meyer made these notes:

(1972) “The average pet dog owner usually regards the dog crate as ‘cruel’ and would not be inclined to use one unless directly convinced of its value by a breeder, veterinarian, friend using one, or by someone else whose knowledge and experience is respected.” (I can see similar reactions in 2019.)

“The proper use of a dog crate by an average pet owner ‘miraculously’ solves most of the common puppy-raising problems in any breed. Since this more secure and controlled pet causes less frustration and anger, he/she has a far better chance of fulfilling its desired role and of not being ‘gotten rid of’ due to problem behavior. Even many older ‘problem’ dogs can be saved by being gradually and pleasantly conditioned to crate use.”

“Convincing a pet owner to use a crate provides a breeder or other dog authority with a golden opportunity for education. Also, while successfully using a crate the pet owner is automatically learning something about dog psychology, control, and training without necessarily being actively aware of it. Many of these satisfied owners then share their experience with others, influencing them to use a crate also.”

The most valued assets of using the dog crate listed by the involved pet owners were:

1) safety/security of dog, 2) peace of mind for the owner, 3) great aid to housebreaking, 4) general control/training, 5) controls dog in car, 6) makes traveling/visiting with dog much easier.

One of my dogs, just rescued from the animal shelter, trotted into my back porch, spotted a dog crate at the opposite end, sped to the crate, jumped in and laid down with a sigh — “Home again” was her attitude.

However, it is essential that the dog is allowed plenty of exercise and interaction time with the family each day if the dog crate is to remain “home.” Confining a dog for hours on end with only a few minutes freedom to relieve itself will result in the dog thinking the crate is a “cage” and not “home” or “my room.”