After I adopted Sahara, her first night home was a complete and utter disaster. We didn’t have a crate and that was a huge mistake on my part. The next day we got a crate and my expectation was that things were going to go smoothly from there on out. Boy was I wrong. After trial and more errors, I no longer crate my dog and you shouldn’t crate your dog either!
The first problem was trying to get her to go in the crate and associate it with positive things. I put a trail of treats leading to the crate and encouraged her to go in. She would put her front paws in to get the treat, and then back out. People recommended that be where she eat and sleep and relax. I put her in the crate with her food and you want to know what she did? Flipped the bowl over. Every time. The first few nights, I put her in there to sleep and she whined the entire time (apparently this is very typical and you just have to let them whine it out, but I didn’t know that then) so I ended up letting her sleep in the bed with me.
Besides at night time, I persisted, after all I didn’t want to have to be cleaning up messes like I did that first night. My logic was faulty. Problem number two, I was still cleaning up shredded pieces of things she could pull through the crate. I thought I was safe with the he crate was over a foot from anything in reach. WRONG.
She would move the crate!
This went on for weeks. She would try to pull what ever she could into the crate, despite having other toys in there. It occurred less frequently but still more than I would like. A bedspread, 3 shoes (none of the same shoe, it would make more sense to chew the same pair), a food bowl, the spill guard of her crate, other miscellaneous items, a new apartment, and a few months later, the crate became obsolete.
It was causing more trouble and anxiety than it was worth.
So I stopped putting her in the crate at my apartment. I’m not going to say that she never got into anything but after getting into the trash for some baked beans and more management on my part (paying more attention to things she was able to get into and putting them in places she wasn’t able to get to them) she was allowed to stay out of the crate and out of trouble. The massacres to the garbage and things laying around ceased, her white flag was raised at my apartment at least. Thank god!
While visiting my parents, she still had to be in the crate. She would still move the crate and pulling anything she could into the crate to tear up. While at my parents Sahara decided to preform a magic act. She popped up the top of the crate where the front panel met the top and shimmied out of the top. It doesn’t do any good to be in there if she is going to get out anyway and there’s a possibly her hurting herself.
That was the end, I don’t crate my dog anymore.
She’s happier about it and so am I. After 9 months in a kennel at the shelter I understand her lack of enthusiasm for the crate. Being in such a small confined space caused her so much stress and anxiety. She now behaves herself and hasn’t gotten into anything in over a year and a half since she’s been free roaming the house. It’s not important enough to me to force her into the crate when she does well left out.
There may be a time and a place to crate your dog
To some people it is important to have a crate because that is their dog’s “safe space”. This is somewhere they eat, sleep, play, and feel safe. It’s nothing more to Sahara than a place to be “out of sight out of mind” even though that isn’t the way I feel about the crate.
I do not disregard that there are plenty of pups out there who love their crate. Nevertheless, there will always be pups out there like Sahara who think crates are terrifying and have more anxiety building up from being in there despite positive reinforcement. It is important for your pup to be in a safe situation. For some that means crating and for others that means not crating at any cost. Crating Sahara creates a multitude of hazards, she faces the possibility serious injury trying to climb out of the top of the crate or being sick if she ingests anything she chews up. There may be a time and place for crating your dog, but I don’t think there’s one for crating mine.
I firmly believe that if your pup struggles with the crate much as Sahara does, then it is time to explore other options. Pet play pens, a closed off room in the house, or a gate keeping them contained in a more open area of the house are all great alternatives to putting a high anxiety dog in a crate but still keeping them out of trouble and danger.
Ultimately, you need to weigh the pros and the cons of the safety and well-being of your pup. Do what’s best for them and don’t think of what other’s might say about it.
Are you team crate or team free roaming? Let me know in the comments!