Why I don’t crate my dog and why you shouldn’t crate your dog either!

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.

Why I don't crate my dog and why you shouldn't crate your dog either
She looks like she belongs to that bed, or rather that bed belongs to her. “What is this crate you speak of?” ~Sahara

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!

14 thoughts on “Why I don’t crate my dog and why you shouldn’t crate your dog either!

  1. Wow do I feel for you! My current dog is fine crate or no crate, so I let her do whatever. But I had a foster dog once that literally had the WORST separation anxiety ever. I learned after the first week that putting her in the crate was the worst possible option, she would hurt herself and have diarrhea everywhere. I totally agree with you that for some dogs, crating is the worst thing you can do. I think crating is a great idea for most dogs, but you’re right, not all dogs. Especially if the background is storied, like my foster, I didn’t want her to be traumatized more.

    1. It’s good your current dog is able to do both! That probably makes it easier when you go on vacation or something like that. Your foster dog was lucky to have you and you were good to her for not forcing her. I feel like most foster parents would crate the dog anyway because there is so much stigma around dogs that aren’t crate trained when people go to adopt them, like crating is the only option and dogs that aren’t crate trained are not trained at all, which is untrue. Thank you for your understanding and love for your dogs!

    1. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment! I hope there’s more dogs in your future!

  2. We put our shelter puppy in a crate and she didn’t like it, but it was necessary for us at the time. I remember falling asleep with my hand in the crate petting her. Eventually she learned to “tolerate it” and would go in without a fuss when we left the house but it was never a haven for her. After she grew out of the puppy phrase we just transitioned her to being behind gates. At 10 years old she free roams and only chews on stuff when she’s mad.
    When we get another dog I would do the same thing. Destructive unsupervised puppies and kids’ toys just don’t mix well!

    1. I’ve always assumed it was easier to crate train puppies, but I’m sure it was hard either way. I think its all part of parenting falling asleep with hands in the crate or in my case my upper half in the crate trying to convince my pup it was okay because, hey I’m in here too! Sounds like you made great choices for you and your pup. I wouldn’t want a youngster tearing up everything in its wake either, crate, gate, or small empty rooms are all great to start off with!

    1. I completely agree! I’ve read about people crate training their puppy and then once they learn the rules and are housebroken then they are let roam free!

  3. Our dog is almost 2 years old. We crated him for most of those two years when we were away from home because we were worried he would get hurt. But he is very good and has never done anything destructive, convincing us to let him roam free when we’re away. No more crates for our pup!

    1. Definitely a good idea to crate him to keep him safe, on the opposite side I constantly hear about people leaving their dogs out everyday and the dog tears up and ingests something new everyday and I just wish they would try a crate so their pup doesn’t get hurt or sick from being out! Yay for behaving and no more crates now!

  4. I grew up with dogs, around dogs and I have had several dogs myself and never used a crate. I do believe that dogs need a place that they can call their own. A place that they are undisturbed and free of being bothered. I think that even a dog needs a mental break or a place to relax, a safe heaven. But I don’t think that that place has to be a crate. My dog has a free reign of the entire house. She doesn’t destroy stuff, doesn’t bark excessively all day or does other things that people indicate dogs would do when not crated.

    1. Yes, even though Sahara doesn’t go in a crate, if she’s up too late or gets upset she will either put her self to bed or go under my bed to just take some time for her self. That’s a great point you brought up, smother mothering like I do to her sometimes warrants a break and parents should always encourage their pups to be able to spend some time alone too! I think there is a huge misconception about uncrated dogs, most people only leave their dogs out in the entire house if they are well behaved but there are a few that aren’t well behaved and probably should have free run of the entire house but maybe a smaller room!

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