Crate training in the news

March 25, 2024
By: Adriana Valle

I had the serendipity to join a live podcast today that was discussing a recent Washington Post article about crate training – whether it’s a good thing or not. You may or may not know that crate training is somewhat controversial in the dog training and raising space. Some dog lovers are for crate training. Some believe crate training is a necessary skill, safe to use only if and when needed. Meanwhile, others, like PETA, are fully against it. Crate training is even illegal in some European countries. Today, we’re discussing what’s being said about crate training in the news. We’ll also chat about where I, a professional pet sitting and dog walking business owner, stand on the issue.

Crate training in the news: The Washington Post

The Washington Post article that launched this week’s pet new conversation is Should You Crate Train Your Dog? It’s Complicated. The writer, Kelly Conaboy, does an excellent job of presenting an honest and equitable perspective of crate training. A dog-focused journalist, Conaboy shares that her dog likes his crate. Her dog enjoys an extra large crate outfitted it with a comfy bed and blankets. From her perspective, the dog sees it as a safe, relaxing space. She adds that she uses positive reinforcement, rewarding her pup when he goes into the crate, to ensure that her pup maintains a positive association with his crate.

The writer says she’s grateful to have a dog that does so well when crated. She recognizes, however, that not all dogs take to crates. More importantly, that, based on expert advice, not all dogs are good candidates for crates and crate training.

Crate training in the news: Shoreline Happy Paws

At Shoreline Happy Paws, we have seen excellent crate training and dogs that take very well to their crates. We have seen dogs that aren’t too sure about their crate and hesitate to go inside. Unfortunately, we have also seen the other extreme, where dogs resist their crate and seem very uncomfortable when crated, if not worse. When crated against her will, left in a crate for too long, or sent to her crate at the wrong times – like as a punishment – a dog may develop a crate phobia, which can present very serious issues.

Our stance at Shoreline Happy Paws is that proper crate training is a very good thing. Being crated is an important skill that most dogs will be able to learn with the right training approach and lots of patience from their humans. Of course, as one of the presenters on today’s live podcast said, “a fool with a tool is still a fool.” The tool – the crate – isn’t so much in question as is all that goes along with it like training, management, and execution.

Crate training in the news: Weekly pet Roundup

Today’s live podcast was hosted by our industry friend, Isabel Alvarez Arata of Covered in Pet Hair. She and her co-host, Jessica Fisher of The Pet Parenting Reset, discuss a pet related topic weekly. Both are leaders in our industry with over 30 years of experience in pet care combined. Their opinions of crate training differ because Isabel was a professional pet sitter for 12+ years and saw the many benefits of crate training whereas Jessica, a positive reinforcement dog trainer and pet nutritionist, has seen pet parents misuse the tool, inspiring a love/hate relationship with crates.

Despite their different histories, both Isabel and Jessica agree that crate training has many uses. They believe, however, that a dog should be comfortable in a crate before being crated. The key to comfort with anything pet-related, of course, is proper introduction and acclimatization. When trained using positive reinforcement, most dogs – barring any conditions that are incompatible with crates – will accept crates as a regular part of life, rest, and, in many cases, travel.

Crate training in the news: Crating concerns

As hosts of this live podcast, which is on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube on Mondays at 5 PM EDT and on Jessica’s podcast feed later in the week, Isabel and Jessica focused on some of their concerns vis-a-vis crate training, many of which I share. They agree that many dogs aren’t getting enough exercise before being placed in their crates. They also worry that dogs may spend too much time confined to their crates. Finally, many dogs do not have large enough crates, which could lead to both physical and emotional harm. In addition, they worry that separation anxiety impacts a dog’s ability to be crated. As separation anxiety rates in dogs soar to about 1 in 2 dogs, it’s inevitable to discuss both crating and SA simultaneously.

Crate training in the news: Separation Anxiety & Crates

While focused on the Washington Post article on crates and dogs, this week’s episode of the Weekly Pet Roundup delved into the much-discussed topic of separation anxiety in dogs. Both Isabel and Jessica agreed that Malena DeMartini is the foremost expert in separation anxiety in dogs. Isabel interviewed Malena on her show a few years back where they discuss dogs that are so anxious being left alone and, worse, in their crates, that their owners resort to zip ties and locks to keep them crated. Not surprisingly, Isabel reported that Malena warned against such a practice, explaining that crating a dog despite their reluctance and separation anxiety is akin to confining them with their panic and can lead to injury or worse.

Isabel and Jessica therefore advised that guardians of dogs with separation anxiety seek out separation anxiety support first, and teach crate skills later. With the help of a dog trainer specializing in separation anxiety – you can find one here – a dog’s fear may be reduced but only with a lot of work and dedication.

Crate training in the news: To Crate or Not to Crate

The question of crating dogs is a very important one, something that all dog owners should ask themselves when adopting their dog and throughout their lives. From my perspective, crate training makes potty training easier, helps prevent bad habits and destructive behaviors, and can set dogs up for success when recovering from surgery or spending a night at the vet. If a dog hasn’t been taught to, at minimum, accept his crate, these activities become more difficult and stressful for all involved.

If given the choice, we at Shoreline Happy Paws recommend crate training as long as you 1) use positive reinforcement to introduce and acclimate your dog to his adequately-sized crate, 2) observe your dog’s behavior for signs of separation anxiety or distress when crated, 3) don’t leave your dog crated for more than 4-5 hours, and 4) don’t use the crate as punishment or when you need a break from your dog’s demands. To learn more about why we make these recommendations, read the Washington Post article here. And, visit Susan Garrett’s Crate Games to learn how to make crate training and crate life fun for all involved.

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Crate training in the news: count on SHP

At Shoreline Happy Paws, many of the dogs we care for are crated. Crate training has helped many of our clients potty train and raise happy, healthy pups. As mentioned above, crated dogs need breaks and that’s where we come in. Our dog walking and dog hiking services are a great way to get puppies and dogs of all ages a break from their crate while also boosting their longevity, heart health, and more. We love making pet parenting easier!

New Shoreline Happy Paws clients can create an account. We will be in touch to further discuss your needs and set you, your family, and your pet(s) up for success. Existing clients may book dog walking, dog hiking, or pet sitting services by logging in to your client profile.

Shoreline Happy Paws serves the following areas of the Connecticut Shoreline:

  • Old Saybrook
  • Essex, Ivoryton & Centerbrook
  • Deep River
  • Chester
  • Westbrook
  • Clinton
  • Old Lyme
  • East Lyme
  • Niantic

Certain Parts and Certain Service Hours in:

  • Lyme and Madison
  • Waterford, New London, Groton
  • Uncasville, Gales Ferry, Mystic, Noank

By Adriana Valle

Adriana is the owner and Chief Pet-Loving Officer at Shoreline Happy Paws. She has been a Professional Pet Sitter for over 10 years.

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