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Why use a crate?

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Why use a crate?
  • Hello,

    lots of you are mentioning 'crates'. Here in Australia I don't know anyone who has ever used one, I used to work at a boarding kennel for dogs and nobody mentioned it there either so it seems like an American idea.

    Anyway, I just don't get it, why use one? What does it do for you/ the dog?

    From what i've heard it seems like a small box to keep your dog confined and out of trouble, yes? But why would you need that? Surely afer the puppy phase the dog is well behaved.

    My dogs have full access to every room in the house and all of the outside area at all times. We have a doggy door and its always open. I leave and come back regularly and they don't do anything wrong. Occasionally maybe my old dog has an accident as she cant always hold her wee till she gets outside. My 1 yr old lab has chewed a tag of my stuffed toy but thats it. When i leave for a long period of time they get kongs or treats and their toys. If i need to confine them then they go in a bedroom, but this is very rarely.

    So please help me to understand what a crate is for...im confused!

  • At the ages of my dogs, it's primarily for their safety when we are all out of the house.  You never know when one might get a wild hair and decide to tromp someone else, and if I'm not home to stop it, the "pack mentality" could kick in.  I worry too about fire.  I have very large, nasty sounding dogs and the substation for our local FD knows the location of the CRATED dogs.  Read, safe to enter and rescue because all you have to do is carry the crate outside safely.  Granted it'll take more than one to do that, but.......I have the crates specifically located for easy access and removal.

    our crates just stay up all the time.  They are frequently used by the dogs for naps, for chewing raw bones, for just hanging out. Each has their own and that is their "safe place".  Quite often the CHOOSE to go into a crate for the night, but the doors are never shut in that event.  They are far from small boxes....they are VERY large and give them ample room.

    MY dogs have eaten little goodies like my sofa.....in a heartbeat or two.  They are big and pretty powerfully destructive when they are bored and I rather like having furniture.  That's the least important reason for me to crate them.

    Bottom line is, they are still dogs, and as such subject to whatever dog like responses they might have when I am not here to correct misbehaviors.

  • For some dogs the "puppy phase" lasts for years. (Giant breeds, in particular.) Misha feels safe in his crate and when things get stressful he sometimes goes and puts himself up. His decision to destroy things is pretty random -- sometimes he'll eat a hose left out, but ignore another one. In certain houses it's pretty easy to give the dogs a few rooms, that's not possible in out house. Also, it's easier to proof your house if you have small dogs, every surface in the house up to the top of the refrigerator would have to be clear at all times, if we left Misha out. (Or the top of the refrigerator if you're Callie with Billy.) It also helps with traveling. Misha gets stressed in new areas, so having a crate that's his and not the other dogs gives him time to decompress.
  • In my house crates are for the puppy phase, however I have a few crates kept out with blankets/bedding that stay open and the dogs use them on their own for sleeping.  At Schutzhund, crating is required.  Crating is also required at dog shows and most dog competitions/events.  I also require my dogs to be crated when we're in a moving vehicle, for their safety and mine.  I crate train all my dogs because then if they are sick or injured or at the vet, they are used to being crated/caged and won't freak out, and I do lots of dog shows and competitions so it's important the dog can rest peacefully in a crate and not be stressed because they aren't used to it.

    How are dog shows and competitions done there?  How to people keep their dogs safe at these events between their turns?

  • Excellent point regarding traveling.  My dogs wear harnesses in the car, but in the car is for little short trips such as to the vet or an outing.  Longer trips are always in the RV and crates.

    another advantage to having your dog crate trained is that should s/he need to be at the vets for an overnite stay or post op, the crate they will be placed in there, won't be a stressor on top of all the other stress of just being there and not feeling the greatest.

  •  I have 2 crates for 2 older dogs and hesitate to get rid of them, because they do go in them...security feeling?  They are left open, so it is their option to go inside, unless I put them in there for a reason.

    I have also found it useful when having work done around the house...carpets being cleaned and door open for the hose...keep the dogs crated.  We had windows replaced, same thing...the dogs were safe in their crates.  And the dogs didn't mind, because they felt safe and were comfortable with the situation.

  • Are you sure that nobody in your country uses crates? What about at dog shows, dog sporting events, etc? I would be very surprised if crates aren't used.

    My dogs have free run of the house day and night, but they are in crates while we wait our turn at sporting or training events.

    Crate training is not a bad thing. If used in a positive way, most dogs enjoy their crates, see them as a safe spot and will go in them on their own (I.e. The crate door is always open) to go to sleep.
  • I'm going to back up to some even more elemental differences -- Haley, you're in Oz right?  ('Australia' for we Yanks) -- here in the States it is VERY common for all the adult humans in the home to work full time usually.  This creates a LONG day for many dogs and one where a variety of disturbances may occur because a lot of us live relatively close together with little yard/garden space so for some dogs the distractions may be huge).  And a crate simply gives them a safe-feeling place to sleep. 

    For some of us the ONE time we keep the dog(s) from doing something foolish and dangerous may save a life.  A friend of mine had her dog literally leap out of a pickture window (shattering it) from a 1 1/2 story home -- the dog survived the leap but nearly didn't survive the traffic in the street out front.  Another friend of mine had two young med/large dogs that began to play and in the process got behind a table with a television on it -- they got tangled in the wires and pulled it off -- one dog died from the impact and the other died as a result of the shattering glass.  All because she didn't want to deny them 'freedom'. 

    I quit resisting the idea of crating after a dog, who had for several years never destroyed a thing, decided to chew a 6 foot diameter hole in a Vellux blanket (feature foam, fibers and polyester fibers) just because he got bored -- the risk of obstruction was HUGE, and not just obstruction but cuts from fibers -- he got lucky and didn't obstruct.  The same week all three dogs got into the 5 pound bag of cockatiel seed and not only was there diarreha  thru the house I had three quite sick dogs from swollen seed in their bellies.

    All three have humungous crates (none are over 30 pounds and yet each has a crate for a great dane so they have lots of room to stretch and play.  They're only in it while we're gone during the day -- but it's not uncommon to find someone sleeping in their crate at night from choice. 

    A dog that is trained to enjoy a crate is a dog that has an easier time going to the vet, and travelling with the family.  I don't do dog shows but we travel a lot and all e dogs go with  and hotels/motels accept them readily with crates. 

    If you come home and someone has been ill in their crate you know **exactly** who got sick -- there's no question.  If someone is drinking too much or too little water (UTI) you KNOW -- there's no guess about it. 

    Crating is gaining favor all over the world -- but here in the States where the proportion of both adults working is probably higher than most places it simply makes sense.  It is then the owner's RESPONSIBILITY to make sure they exercise their dogs and devote attention and give fun when they get home -- but you don't come home to destruction or illness -- you just come home to a well rested dog who is ready for FUN.

  • I use the open wire crates for my dogs. (three of them have a personal crate, the other two have separate assigned areas)
    Dinner time is a breeze, they all run to their areas/crates and there's no food fighting.
    Someone is injured or ill, they get a crate to be kept from being bothered by the other dogs. This has really been a help with multiple dogs through various issues over the years.
    Individual training or walking time, they get rotated in and out of the crates or designated area.
    Bedtime, for whatever reason my Lhasa will howl if she is not given her crate. We've had her in bedrooms (she peed and tore stuff up), we've had her loose in the house (again, peed and got into stuff) we put her in her crate and she sleeps all night. Go figure!
    I started with crates when I got my Golden puppy, Josie. She was a destructive puppy and although we had housebreaking mastered she was still destroying anything and everything. She no longer destroys stuff but will be found in her crate when she needs quiet time away from the other dogs. (and eats her dinner there as well)

    I had no idea how widespread crate-use was until I had started researching it for my own purposes. Before then, I was very closed-minded about them. Now I'm sold!
  • Crating is often misunderstood I hope I can add possibly a different perspective.  We Breed and raise Rhodesian Ridgebacks.  They grow from tiny pups into dogs that can easily hit 100 pounds. We live in the Hurricane Belt of the deep South in the USA , If you looked at a map , find Alabama and there we are about 5 minutes off the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.  People heard about the folks who refused to evacuate during Hurricane Katrina because they could not count on their pets being allowed in Shelters, motels or hotels with them.   Had their dogs been Crate trained then most evacuation points now accept them ( it became law they must make sure there is at least one pet friendly shelter for evacuees.  Motels and Hotels filled up fast and they prefered not to have un crated dogs laying on the bedding and furniture. RV parks may take you if your dog is small enough but when you have 6  large dogs as we do you need to show exactly how commited you are to a well behaved animal. As the barometer drops and soars it plays havoc with the dog's inner ear.  Even the best behaved dog may act out or panic in these circumstanses.  So we REQUIRE our families to crate train their puppy in our contract. A  trained dog  understands the crate is their space, it is safe and a calm space and will happily spend long hours in it should a disaster like a Hurricane, Wild Fire or Tornado turn your life upside down. Another Hurricane thought, our home had over $80,000.00 in damage from Hurricane Ivan , one of the worst parts of course was our fencing being blown 6 ways from Sunday. While I can walk  4 dogs at a time on  leads  not all the work was outside. When dog leary workmen came in the house it was either allow the just met workers  to wander through the house without us; ( most of the workers are hired from a post hurricane migration of folks who flood the area to cash in on the clean up) or crate them which after a brief period of concern about the strangers ( often smelly  from power being out and speaking other languages, for the Ivan repairs we had workers from brasil, Mexico, the Domincan Republic, Russia, Canada and our own beloved Cajuns which is a Language of it's own!! ). The dogs settle into a quiet alertness; watching everything from their crates.  Since our kitchen, entries and dog room floors had to be replaced that was weeks of people in and out of the home.  It is terrifying enough to find your home torn up but far worse to the dogs who have strangers speaking loudly carrying sledge hammers and chainsaws and wandering in and out of your home !

     We begin the crate training when they are 8 weeks old. They are fed in the crates, given wonderful treats, toys with food bits inside to pass the time.  In return we have pups that feel no need to howl or be in your lap constantly. They are potty trained while Crate training which means when a Litter leaves our home at 10 weeks old they are about 95% housebroken and our families LOVE this!  When I open our back door in the morning the dogs all go outside to potty,  when I open it again they race to their crate and stand inside with the doors open;  tails wagging as they know food will be delivered to them in moments.  Like many larger breeds we have to be careful to avoid bloat. Bloating most often happens when a dog over exercises right after eating. With young and energetic Hounds we need to restrict their urge to play all out 24/7. So our dogs eat then have a 45 minute nap while I get the kids ready for the school bus or make breakfast. The Dogs respect and enjoy their crates. When I need to put a dog into a crate that is not theirs it normally annoys them.  They like their blankets and toys, they know it is in effect their room. Our Crates can hold a Bull Mastiff easily, We always go for larger than needed crates to assure comfort.  We prefer to use Wire crates allowing for excellent air flow but we always keep one XXL airline style crate set up for rescues and visitors who may need and want a quieter and less accessable space.  As we work with Rescue a great deal I prefer to keep the rescued dog seperate until I am able make sure they are healthy and confident enough to mix with the pack. Crate training takes less than a week when done right.  Dogs are not left crated for more than 4 hours , we arrange our schedules to make sure they are out and walked or playing every 4 hours.  

     You don't have to think to the extreme  for good reasons to crate train. When your dog goes to the Vet and stays for surgery or treatments chances are really pretty good they will spend part or all of their time there in a crate. If they have not been crate trained you are now taking an ill or confused and frightened dog  and putting yet another layer of stress on them by shoving them into a crate space they do not understand or appreciate.

      When a female comes in season having several adult males becomes risky. Dogs who normally love each other may decide to battle since they are thinking through a testosterone haze. Yet they can be crated side by side and never curl a lip at each other.  They even settle down much easier as long as they can see the object of their undying love.  Yes we use fancy pants for the female when she is wandering about the house but I do not like to keep them on her non stop. Crating again allows us a chance to limit the mess.

     When we have strange children  or very elderly guests visiting we realize they may not have the skills to navigate around 6 dogs. Our holiday,  Thanksgiving is coming up and this is a classic example of a day when 6 dogs at 75 to 100 pounds eyeing your plate balanced on your knee makes crating them during meals not simply handy but safer for everyone.  Our guest list which often exceeds a dozen folks . For them to relax and manage the buffet style of service they should not have to be concerned that the drumstick they were enjoying may be snatched up by a younger dog, or their shoes will  be drooled on a couple of dogs !  Not everyone we know is a Dog Person , of course we rarely invite the Non dog folks over but we must be realistic. Far better to have a Plan in mind that will not necessitate your running back and forth to make sure they are not bored or stressed and devouring something in your room out of pique.

    My dogs ARE well mannered, they are trained Service and Therapy dogs but at the end of the day  they are dogs.  Why would I push them to a limit and possibly have them fail when I can remove the temptation and guarantee their sucess? They do therapy work, are amazing with special needs children and fragile adults. They lure course running so fast it brings tears to your eyes at the sheer beauty of their joy and movement. They have titles on both sides of their names for beauty and soundness as well as herding sheep and goats, hunting , Obedience drills and are frequently parts of local parades and school activities.  One of my hounds who I loved so dearly was the reason we began to crate train.  She had the manners and the bearing of Royalty but she felt we should never be seperated.  So when we went to dog shows she would be loose in the RV with our big male and our Rescue Lab.  If left even 10 minutes longer than she felt necessary she would become destructive. Taking my purse and dumping it from one end of the 40 ft coach to the other, shredding stuffed toys,  paper or turning on water.  We sat one rainy afternoon  at a dog Show outside the RV with friends enjoying chat and a glass of wine. Jasmine hated the rain  and wanted me inside. I felt as I am the human I was not going to allow my dog to dictate what I could do! So I ignored her annoyed barking...When she quieted I thought "See I Won , she can be made to be patient ..... right until we opened our rig's door and found she had turned the faucet on full blast emptying an 80 Gallon water tank on our floor ( sink was covered for driving). Water cascaded down the steps on to our shoes and legs. Everything inside was soaked!! In the end we had to have a new floor and carpeting put into the RV !! And that was not her most legendary of revenge stories.  She was most welcomed any where we went and was my Seizure Alert Dog.... But once I crate trained her I lost far less personal property and her damages went from astronomical and evil to just the occasional trick of the moment.  People who did not know her well had a great deal of difficulty believing our sweet girl could be such a monster when the mood struck her. 

    Show dogs are taught to crate train for a number of reasons. To allow them to stay in a motel/hotel room , to allow the owner or handler to leave them and grab a meal. To keep them clean after the extensive grooming many breeds require. To make traveling safer.  There are too many stories about accidents and lost dogs because they were not crated. Show Dogs are often handled by professionals and they may have as many as 25 dogs in their huge custom built rigs.  Not every dogs is sweet to other dogs so fussing or fighting is prevented by using crates.  People who are showing more than one dog in a show ring find a crate invaluable for keeping the extra dogs and preventing them from possibly having strangers hold the leash.  Their Crates are often draped with a light sheet when next to a ring to provide them with a calm spot to rest until it is their turn in the ring.

    Crating is not exclusive to the USA, well known British Dog Trainer Victoria Stillwell ( It's Me or the Dog fame) is another advocate for crate training to avoid problems when you are not with your dog.  For the ease with which it makes housebreaking and simply keeping  puppy safe as it grows.  I mention her as I am guessing her show may be seen in Australia ?  At the end of the lonnng answer I guess the short rreason is Why wouldn't we Crate Train our dogs?

  • hayley018
    From what i've heard it seems like a small box to keep your dog confined and out of trouble, yes?


    Exactly. The longer you own dogs and the more dog people you know, the more you will understand the endless possibilites and situations in which a dog familiar and comfortable in a crate is priceless.  If you never need one, that's great but I prefer to get the odds in my favor by crate training my dogs so that, if needed, they are happy and safe.

  •  Everyone has given you great reasons. The mention was made, about the possibility of dogs getting into the pack mentality when left alone. I second and third and whatever else to that one. Yes, some dogs can be left comfortable together, but others not. Everything might go along fine and then one day something got them started and you have a major horrible fight. I've read too many stories about people who had said their dogs were fine left alone and then one day they came home to a dead dog. I have 4 dogs and I can leave 3. Used to be only 2, that I would leave, but one of the old girls has mellowed and I leave the 3 loose. The other dog, there is absolutely no way I would leave him. He's maybe a jack russel cattle dog mix and supervised, we have figured out how to keep the peace. That took some work, as he started to mature, but now the other dogs, as well as us humans, have it pretty much figured out when he is apt to go off on somebody else. And it is not only the other dogs, we have cats as well. Our little guy has developed a real....this is my space issue and you'd better back off. Problem is he doesn't warn he just grabs. If we left him loose, and he happened to be wandering around, and a cat moved the wrong way to get away from him, well we would likely come home to a dead cat. It is a challenge managing his issues when we are home. So he is crated, when we are out, and will probably be crated this way the rest of his life. He is also crated at night. And he doesn't mind it at all. He runs to his crate, when we are leaving.....well that is unless it is his day for agility class. He also makes a beeline for his crate, after last out at night.

  • Sorry guys, you were right... at dog shows they do use crates. What I meant was normally if you viasit someones house or whatever you wouldn'tsee their dog in a crate...

    I can see you all have gre3at points about using crates so thanks. I don't think its something I would do (I am able to lock dogs into certain areas in teh house if needed) but I now understand how it can work.



  • What happens with my dogs when people come over depends on the people.  Not everyone loves dogs.  Some people are scared of them, some very allergic to them.  When people drop by uninvited my dogs are all free, but if I have invited people over and I know they have a problem with dogs, I have several options: crate indoors, put them outside free (fence), or crate them in the kennel van.  Restricting to certain parts of the house doesn't work really well because our house is so small.  When I have guests over I really have nothing to "prove" about the behavior of my dogs or have them endure dogs if they are scare or allergic simply because it's *my* house.  My dogs are adaptable and well trained enough to be comfortable outside or kenneled somewhere away from guests.

  • hayley018

    I can see you all have gre3at points about using crates so thanks. I don't think its something I would do (I am able to lock dogs into certain areas in teh house if needed) but I now understand how it can work.

    I'm confused. Isn't locking them up away from you the exact same thing as putting them in a crate? Except, in a locked room you have no visibility to them at all.