If you’re a dog owner, you may have heard about crate training, a popular method of housebreaking puppies and keeping them safe while you’re away. However, there are several reasons why crate training can be bad for your pet. In this article, we’ll explore some of the negative effects of crate training and offer alternative methods for training your dog.
While crate training can be effective in preventing destructive behavior and accidents, it can also be detrimental to your dog’s physical and emotional well-being. Overuse of the crate can lead to medical problems such as arthritis, obesity, and depressa ion, and using the crate as punishment can cause fear and aggression. Additionally, dogs who are crated for long periods may develop behavioral issues such as anxiety and excessive barking.
It’s important to understand the potential drawbacks of crate training before deciding whether or not to use this method with your dog. By exploring the negative effects of crate training and learning about alternative training methods, you can make an informed decision about how best to train and care for your pet.
Table of Contents
- The Negative Effects of Crate Training
- Alternatives to Crate Training
- The Advent of Crate Training
- Crate Training and Housebreaking
- Solitary Confinement Leads to Harm
- Cages are Not Safe Spaces
- Crate Training isn’t Necessary to Stop Dogs from Destroying the House
- It Harms Physical Health
- It has Adverse Effects on Behavior
- It does not “Protect” in Emergencies
- It Gives Irresponsible Dog Owners a Free Pass
- It Increases the Number of Dogs in Shelters
The Negative Effects of Crate Training
Physical Health Risks
Using a crate for extended periods can lead to physical health risks such as obesity, arthritis, and joint problems. Dogs may develop pressure sores, calluses, and infections from lying on hard surfPuppiesly, dogs may become dehydrated, constipated, or develop urinary tract infections from being unable to relieve themselves regularly.
It’s crucial to ensure that the crate is the appropriate size for your dog, with enough room to stand up, lie down, and turn around comfortably. If the crate is too small, your dog may be forced to lie in their waste, leading to skin irritation and infections.
Mental Health Risks
Crating can also have negative effects on your dog’s mental health. Dogs are social animals and thrive on interaction with their owners and other dogs. If left in a crate for extended periods, dogs may develop separation anxiety, depression, and other behavioral issues. They may also become aggressive, destructive, and difficult to train.
Using a crate as punishment can also promote fear and aggression in dogs, leading to further behavioral problems. Dogs may also develop learned helplessness, where they become passive and give up trying to escape the crate, leading to a lack of confidence and independence.
Alternatives to Crate Training
If you’re not comfortable with crate training your dog, there are several alternatives you can try. These options can provide your dog with a safe and comfortable space while also allowing them more freedom.
Positive Reinforcement Training
Positive reinforcement training is a method of training that rewards good behavior and ignores bad behavior. This method can be used to teach your dog to stay in a specific area of the house without the use of a crate. You can use treats, toys, or praise to reward your dog when they stay in the designated area.
It’s important to note that positive reinforcement training requires patience and consistency. You’ll need to reinforce good behavior every time it occurs and avoid punishing bad behavior. With time and practice, your dog will learn to stay in the designated area without the need for a crate.
A puppy playpen is a portable enclosure that can be used to keeareasur dog in a designated area of your home. These playpens are usually made of metal or plastic and can be adjusted to fit any size dog. They provide your dog with enough space to move around and play while also keeping them safe and secure.
Puppy playpens can be used as an alternative to a crate when you’re not able to supervise your dog. They can also be used to help with potty training, as you can place a pee pad or litter box inside the playpen.
If you’re not able to be home with your dog during the day, doggy daycare can be a great alternative to crate training. Doggy daycare provides your dog with socialization, exercise, and mental stimulation while also keeping them safe and supervised.
When choosing a doggy daycare, make sure to do your research and choose a reputable facility. Look for a daycare that has experienced staff, a clean and safe environment, and plenty of activities to keep your dog entertained.
The Advent of Crate Training
Crate training is based on the belief that dogs are den animals, so they must have a natural proclivity for seeking out a sanctuary where they can feel secure, hence using a crate for this den. Despite this being a popularized belief, there is little to no substantial evidence to prove this.
On the contrary, in the Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training (1984), P.L. Borchelt clarifies that dogs are not den-dwelling animals, although they may build a nest for the pups which are to act as a defense against predators and also protect against harsh weather. However, the den has no door which would trap the pups for long and prevent them from coming out to explore.
Nonetheless, crate training is still widely accepted across the country, and is mostly done for housebreaking, behavioral issues, and to discipline the dog when the owner is away.
Crate Training and Housebreaking
Dogs have the instinct to relieve themselves away from where they sleep and eat, which is why most crates are just big enough for the dog to stand, lie down, and turn around in a circle. Keeping your dog in such a confined space to prevent it from soiling in its bed does more harm than good.
Puppies physiologically do not have proper bladder control until they are six months old. They are physically incapable of holding in their urine, and eventually, end up soiling their crate after experiencing much discomfort. In fact, puppies who frequently soil their crates lose their desire to keep them clean, which ends up prolonging the housebreaking process.
Better ways to housekeep dogs is by training them to relieve themselves outdoors on routine walks and in the backyard via doggy doors.
Solitary Confinement Leads to Harm
Proponents of crate training say that a dog should only be kept in a crate for about 6 hours a day. In reality, however, most dogs stay for well over 6 hours inside.
Many dog owners often crate their dogs overnight, and when they are at work, to prevent them from soiling the house in their absence. And when you factor in the amount of time dogs are inside crates when the owner goes running errands or to some social event, you have at least 12 hours of solitary confinement.
Dogs are not meant to stay in restricted spaces for such prolonged periods. This has detrimental effects on their mental and physical health.
Cages are Not Safe Spaces
Dogs, like any other living being, deserve to live in a place where they feel safe and at peace. After the initial feelings of distress, a dog may find the crate to be familiar and safe. Dog behaviorists believe this behavior is very similar to Stockholm Syndrome.
A dog raised by loving and caring owners will feel safe in many places: on the couch, under a table, or even right next to your bed. Once again, dogs are not den animals. They do not instinctively feel safe inside what is essentially a glorified cage.
Crate Training isn’t Necessary to Stop Dogs from Destroying the House
Another common reason to crate train is for the dogs to be non-destructive without supervision. Due to their hyperactivity, dogs might rip apart cushions, chew shoes, and scratch doors when they’re alone to expel all that energy.
Crate training will not stifle these instincts; rather, it might exacerbate behavioral issues.
The humane solution is to dog-proof a room, or some specific area, with toys and drinking water, so that there is plenty of area for the dog to run around without causing any destruction.
It Harms Physical Health
Dogs who do not take well to crate training may end up seriously hurting themselves. They might bite the metal bars of the crate to get out and end up cutting their gums.
Moreover, dogs spend most of their time inside a crate sedentary, which leads to muscle atrophy. The lack of cardiovascular exercise also leads to other serious health problems. Dogs are active and excitable animals, staying inside a confined crate does them no good.
It has Adverse Effects on Behavior
Many experts believe that routine crate training underlies the development of many adjustment problems, including separation anxiety and owner-directed aggression.
In some cases, dogs end up developing more of an attachment to the crate instead of the owner. This leads to separation anxiety when the dog is removed from the crate and interferes with the human-animal bond. The dog might be hysteric, and even lash out at the owner.
It does not “Protect” in Emergencies
A popular argument to justify crate training is that it’ll make the dog comfortable during an emergency, such as during an earthquake, since the owner can just pick the crate up with the dog and evacuate.
If anything, it does the opposite. Due to regular crating a dog isn’t mentally stimulated enough, which makes it more likely to react negatively when faced with something huge and calamitic.
A dog raised with proper love and attention will feel safe with its owner no matter what.
It Gives Irresponsible Dog Owners a Free Pass
It’s an unfortunate reality that not all dogs get good owners. Lazy, irresponsible people often end up with a dog, but put in no effort toward raising it.
With people singing praises of crate training, despite the reality being otherwise, such irresponsible dog owners get away with the abuse and negligence of their dogs.
It Increases the Number of Dogs in Shelters
As is to be expected, there comes a point when the owners find the dog “difficult” to handle after jeopardizing its mental and physical health by crate training, and thus give them away for adoption.
And this cycle goes on and on, with dogs going from one shelter to another. In the end, shelters usually have no option but to put the dog down.
My name is Ken and I’m one of the staff writers at Petloverguy.com. I’ve cared for pets most of my life starting with hamsters, turtles, and snakes. Then moving up to parakeets, guinea pigs, and even ducks.
I currently live with two yorkies and a chihuahua mix.