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What do you use a crate for?

  • In the car, when at competitions/training/vet

    Votes: 21 17.2%
  • While at work/away

    Votes: 30 24.6%
  • At night

    Votes: 13 10.7%
  • Only during puppyhood

    Votes: 22 18.0%
  • I never use a crate

    Votes: 17 13.9%
  • Other

    Votes: 19 15.6%

  • Total voters
    122
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi everyone!

This is probably going to be a pretty long post, so for those of you to manage to read through the whole thing, kudos!

Let me start off by saying that in what I am not about to write I am not trying to accuse anyone of anything, nor am I trying to say whats right and whats wrong, and I'm not looking to offend anyone. This is simply a topic that interests me and seeing that the majority of the members on this forum seems to be American, I am interested to hear you guys' opinion, as it seems to differ a bit from the opinions here (Norway).

SO! The crate! I've heard so many opinions in regards to the use of the crate for our beloved companions; the dog. When I first started doing research and preparing for my own pup a few years back I was living in Ireland, and most of what I read about dogs was on English speaking forums, probably american when I think of it, but also some UK ones.

When I read about important things to teach a puppy, one of the most mentioned things was crate training. And I must admit that I had never even heard of it at first. When I was a kid, my family had a dog, and a crate had never been used at any point, so this was all new to me. The more I read about it the more I figured "Hm. These guys are all experienced dog owners, surely they must be right and the crate must be necessary."

So when I got the puppy I also got a crate for him. He slept in it at night next to my bed (not entirely peacefully as he'd whine for a bit before going to sleep, or sometimes when waking up randomly). However when he was about 3-4 months old I decided to try and just let him sleep outside the crate. And never has he slept more peacefully. It's not that he 'hated' the crate, he just seemed to enjoy it more outside it. I thought it would be "the dogs safe den" however once it was moved to stand in the living room with the doors open, he was barely ever inside it. Only if I put treats in there. The floor and the sheepskin was a much better place to sleep it seemed.

So now comes the part that the topic is actually about and that I am really wondering. Is it so that in America it's seen as almost obligatory to have a crate for your dog, and is it really necessary?

I spend a lot of time on a Norwegian dog forum which is based a lot around positive training, and in there the crate is frowned upon. And this I can understand, cause after reading a lot about it and seeing how some people use it, I can see how many are opposed to it.

For example, some people have their dog sleep in the crate at night. That's for, let's say, 7 hours. Then they put the dog in a crate while they're at work. To be nice we'll say it's a 8 hour workday including travel time. This is 15 hours a day inside the crate for a dog, and THAT I think is wrong.

If you've observed a dog at night while they sleep, they often will move from one spot to another, probably because it's too hot or they simply feel like a change from the surface they're sleeping on. In a crate, this will not be possible.

A lot of people will insist that the dog loves its crate and automatically goes in there at night when it's bedtime. Someone I know recently adopted a dog and the previous owners had said that the dog loved to sleep in his crate at night. When the new owner left the crate open that night without closing it (as the previous owners had), the dog chose to sleep on the carpet instead.

Is it possible that the dogs have simply resigned to this and go in their crates, not because they want to, but because it's become a habit? I mean, dogs can "get used to" the most incredible things. Even jumping out of airplanes in parachutes!

Crates for dogs to use inside seems like a relatively new phenomenon. 20 years ago this was not even something that would be considered by most dog owners (of course with exception of car cages, and crates for dog shows, competitions etc.) Is it a new easy way out of teaching the dog to be home alone?

Something that is often repeated on the forums I go to is that crates are the lazy mans way of preventing separation anxiety. Now, a lot of dogs struggle with this, which means a lot of owners too, and many of the owners that do, have not taken the time to actually do 'alone-training' with their dogs, so instead of doing this they stuff the dog inside a crate during the day to prevent it from wrecking the house. (These are not my words, I'm repeating what's being said on the forums.)

Another reason why a lot of people I know are against it, is if the dog has an accident in the shape of a poo or a piddle, or gets sick and throws up inside its own crate while the owner is at work, they have to sit there in their own feces.

Myself, I do not use a crate anymore except from in the car (and later when we will join competitions I will use it then.) And it's working fine for me. Dog relaxes while I'm gone, sleeps through the night in the living room, and we're all quite happy about it.

Now I wonder, since crates seems to be such a wide spread thing in America, is there a particular reason for this? I was wondering if perhaps it could be due to there being a lot more adopted dogs there that may have issues from their previous homes and needs the crate to relax?

Or am I completely wrong and not nearly as many as I think are actually using a crate? As mentioned before, I'm not trying to offend anyone, but simply educate myself to see what is actually the facts around this and what others opinions are and why the crate has become so popular?

I would very much appreciate it if someone took the time to share their opinions, and by all means, DO disagree to what's been written. After all, that's a major part of what a discussion forum is about! :D
 

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It certainly can be abused and an easy way out for owners who aren't able or interested in training. Perhaps it makes dog ownership for inexperienced or 'lazy' owners to be more attracted to owing a dog than they would have been if crates were not a common practice. However, I've used one for probably the last 20 yrs and I think they're invaluable during puppyhood and training. I have the kind of dog that can be trusted to be left out alone, day or night without any problems. Maybe it's the dog, maybe it's the training - most likely both.
 

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If the dog is use to being crated that is a wonderful thing...especially if they have to be vetted or at a groomer.
If a dog has proven themselves to be safe out of a crate with out destructing or getting into inappropriate items, then I feel they've earned the right to freedom out of the crate.
I have them set up in my house for service people visiting or when I want them contained. When we are away, they have free run of the home, because they are good.
I crate in the vehicle for safety reasons, but have had my dog ride loose in the vehicle. At training when we are not working, dog is safely crated.
I think a baby pup should be crated when not supervised, but not for lengthy periods of time.
Crates should be the dogs safe place, they know they can go there when they feel the need to get away from it all!
 

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I have NEVER used a crate for my dogs, and I don't own a crate. By the time my german shepherd was 10 months old or so, he could be trusted anywhere in the house and I had trained him not go get into anything he shouldn't even when I am not home for hours. My lab is also trained to roam free. They sleep where they want and they don't even know what a crate is.

I think this thread is very interesting. Consider using the thread tools and adding a poll to this thread to give a better idea of just how many people are using crates for their dogs.
 

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I crate when they are puppies but as soon as they are trust worthy I leave them out. Most people use dogs to help protect the house and if the dog is in a cage its no help at all. I don't work so my pups are not crated very often only if I am in the shower or if I go shopping. At night I use a leash tied to me which one teaches being tied and the other I can tell when he moves to make sure he doesn't need out.
 

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Mine are 11 and 7 years old. Daisy ,11 was in a crate as a puppy until she learned to escape.After a bit she had free roam and has only ever been in crate for medical reasons.Lucky was crated the first few nights here and since has not been crated that was 6 years ago.
 

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I crate trained my dogs when they were puppies, doing the potty-training, time out (not for them being bad, but for me needing a break from constantly chasing them and keeping them out of things), and at night.

Now that my Chihuahua is over two years, she rarely uses her crate. I only ask her to go to her crate when I need to keep the dogs seperated, when company is over, or if I travel somewhere other than my house and need to make sure she doesn't have any issues (she sometimes gets a little scared when she's away from home). Other than that, she hasn't been crated in a while.

As for Alex, she's just now one year old - I use her crate a lot still, but not as much as I used to. I did the same with her that I did with my Chihuahua, crate-wise, and still crate her when I'm out of the house. I'm slowly introducing her to the whole house roaming concept, but I'm taking it very slowly since I have two cats and the chi-chi. I have to put the cats in the room and either take the chi-chi with me (like when I visit my parents' house) or crate her - so it's give or take with the two. She's slept out of her crate with me in my room for about four months now. During the day, I crate her if I'm going to be running errands or going to class, but if I'm going to be longer than a few hours I let her in the backyard (a few of you will probably want to nag me when you read that, please refrain!).

As for my other dog, the Doberman Pinscher, she only used the crate when I first brought her in the house and when she was going through her knee surgery. She has the full run of the house when I'm home, and while I'm gone the full run of a bedroom.

When it comes to 'lazy' people, however, I honestly don't think they could stand to crate a dog, unless it was previously crate trained. Having crate trained two dogs, I know how annoying and patience-trying it can be to train the dogs to stay quietly in the crate. I think someone that's lazy would most likely just toss the dog outside and leave them out there 24/7. But that's just my take on it.

EDIT: Forgot to mention; both my dogs' crates are not only big enough for them to stand up and turn around in, but, Alex's crate is probably a whole size bigger than it 'should' be (she gets up, stretches with a little room leftover, and there's about a foot above her when she stands up), and Isabel's crate could probably fit three of her in there comfortably.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the replies everyone. And Jack's Dad for the link to the thread. So far it looks like most people have a healthy view on crates.

Germanshepherdlova: It would indeed be a good idea to use a poll, however it wont let me go back and edit the first post now, so I guess I'll have to do with reading the replies.

Alexandria610: I can certainly see the need for a crate in this case and you don't seem to be over using it at all. In regards to crate training, (and I might be wrong when saying this but I can only speak from my own experience) I actually found it quite easy. Whenever I'm out driving the dog will be in the car cage/crate or when we're at training and such he will be in it during breaks, and he lies still and relaxes while waiting patiently. Took me a day to get him used to it. Could be that I was just lucky.

Stosh: I do agree that it's handy during puppyhood and house training, especially during the night, but then again, this is my first own dog so I don't know how it would have been without it. For all I know he could still be peeing inside if I hadn't used it.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Wubba, you don't need to edit the first post to add a poll. Just go to where it says Thread Tools and click on it, and then you will see the option to add a poll to the thread.
Heeey, would ya look at that! You learn something new every day! Thank you! Shall add one now.
 

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Alexandria610: I can certainly see the need for a crate in this case and you don't seem to be over using it at all. In regards to crate training, (and I might be wrong when saying this but I can only speak from my own experience) I actually found it quite easy. Whenever I'm out driving the dog will be in the car cage/crate or when we're at training and such he will be in it during breaks, and he lies still and relaxes while waiting patiently. Took me a day to get him used to it. Could be that I was just lucky.
Well, I also forgot to mention that my two dogs were somewhat special cases in the crate-training area. The chihuahua was a puppy mill rescue and thus HATED the crate in the beginning, so it took some getting used to to get her to like it again. In Alex's case, I have no clue what happened to her before she was abandoned in a home and I rescued her at 4.5 months. I'm not sure how old your pup was when you started crate training with him, but Alex had been (assumed) almost 5 months crateless and didn't seem to understand the concept very quickly.

But I have heard of some dogs taking to the crate quickly - the foster I had once took to her crate the first night, as well, so my two could just be outliers to the norm. Glad to hear your's took to it so quickly :)

EDIT: Oh, and you mentioned you use it in the car? That's actually a LOT better than letting them to be loose in the back. There isn't much room in my car for any crate (but luckily there's a travel crate I can use) so I can't use the metal crate, but I know if I had a truck/suv/van I would be crating both my dogs on rides. I would love to have them all excited and sticking their heads out the window, but if there was ever a wreck or I had to slam on brakes for any reason, I wouldn't want my dogs getting hurt flying through the windshield or hitting and killing me and them if there were an accident. There was actually a study that in the impact, the dog (an 80lb lab mix, I believe) would fly through the window with enough force as a baby elephant. That's a lot.

One of my friends actually had a REALLY bad accident once, and she had her Border Collie in the back of her hatchback in a crate. The car was crushed when someone t-boned her, and the hatchback opened up, ejecting the dog and crate. The crate (no lie) rolled and bounced almost 50 feet down the road........and the dog (minus a few bumps and bruises) was perfectly fine. The crate was banged up, but the dog was good. My friend actually had more injuries than the dog, and she wasn't even ejected.
 

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I like the crate. It worked well for me during training, especially if I ever got to the point where I was losing my patience with him, it was somewhere i could put him so I could have a time out before I did something I regretted.

He is 16 months now, and he still sleeps in it. We tried leaving him out of the crate, but he doesn't go to sleep and ends up wandering all night. So I guess we will wait until he is a little older and try again.

Also, I think even if you don't want to crate your dog regularly, they should still be trained in case they need to stay at a vet hospital/groomers/boarding, etc. I have seen many caged dogs that weren't crated trained and have bloody noses, mouths, even chipped tooths from biting cage bars.
 

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I don't really know how widespread the use of daily crating is in the US. For me, I use a crate when puppies are small and might get into things it shouldn't. Or nibble on the cupboards when I am at work. I use the largest size crate. It's 42 inches long and the puppy gets the entire crate. I don't use them for potty training, because they learn that from my other dogs very quickly (except for my Malinois).

When my puppies are about 6 months old and seem to be doing well, they get the whole kitchen and an open crate. This is while I am at work. At night, the puppy is leashed to my bed for the first month. So, if it thinks about wandering off, I will know. If somebody has to go potty in the night, my male, Balto, will come and alert me. (He's an interesting dog.)

I don't know what houses look like in Norway, but the homes I've seen in The Netherlands have a different layout than in the US. People I know in The Netherlands never let their dogs sleep upstairs. And their entire downstairs is usually tiles, sometimes wood.

The people I bought Boaz from have an entry area that is separate from the rest of the living areas, and their dogs sleep there. It is easy to clean up after a dog on tile or wood, and much easier in the smaller area where they sleep at night. Though the nesting instinct probably takes over so they don't pee at night where they sleep.

Many homes in the US are carpeted throughout, and are very difficult to clean entirely if a dog urinates on it. I know, I had a sick dog and after he died, I had to pull up all the carpet. That was 3 years ago and I still haven't finished putting a new floor in.

In the winter, I put two soft crates in the living room with the doors always open. At night while I'm watching TV, those two crates will have dogs in them. One cold winter I brought those crate upstairs and the dogs definitely slept in them all night, or most of the night.

One other point, my female hates my Dutchie, and she will run into the crate to get away from him.

So, there is always one crate in my house. It will have various uses, but nobody is forced to stay in it. That's my story.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Well, I also forgot to mention that my two dogs were somewhat special cases in the crate-training area. The chihuahua was a puppy mill rescue and thus HATED the crate in the beginning, so it took some getting used to to get her to like it again. In Alex's case, I have no clue what happened to her before she was abandoned in a home and I rescued her at 4.5 months. I'm not sure how old your pup was when you started crate training with him, but Alex had been (assumed) almost 5 months crateless and didn't seem to understand the concept very quickly.

But I have heard of some dogs taking to the crate quickly - the foster I had once took to her crate the first night, as well, so my two could just be outliers to the norm. Glad to hear your's took to it so quickly :)
Ah, yes I can see how it might be more difficult to teach it to dogs who has had no experience with it before (and/or has bad associations with it).

And I actually have to correct myself a bit when I think about it. I used a crate in early puppyhood for my boy as well (however he never properly accepted it then, hence why I stopped using it.) So when I got the new cage which was meant for the car and training it only took a day then (I believe he was about 5 months but I can't remember for sure.) So he was not -completely- without experience with crates. Perhaps that why the second time around was so smooth.
 

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I crate train for several reasons. First, I do not allow dogs to ride "free" in a vehicle. It's extremely dangerous and I was in a near-accident (not my fault) where my dog was thrown inside the vehicle and would have gone through the front windshield if she'd not been restrained. Since I travel a lot with my dogs, both for fun and to dog events, I want them to enjoy traveling and be comfortable in their crate so they need to be acclimated. When I let my dogs out the front door they run to their respective crates and jump in ready to go. Second, as much as I love dogs many of my family and friends do not (allergies, dog attacks, etc) so I need a good place to keep my dogs quiet and comfortable out of respect for my guests. Third, if a dog has an injury or needs to be on "crate rest", I'd rather have a dog that is already acclimated to being calm in a crate. When Nikon had his foot infection he was supposed to be kept confined and still for a month. That would have been a nightmare if he was a few years old, never been in a crate, and panicked.

I don't punish dogs with a crate. If they are being naught I put them out in the yard. The crate is their den, their safe, quiet place. Often Nikon will go sleep in his crate because he likes the bedding.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
sharkey19: I do agree that crate training is a necessity, for the reasons you mentioned in regards to being at the vet and such. Also for riding in cars as its usually safer for both owner and dog for the dog to be in a crate.

BlackPuppy: Norwegian houses varies from everything to wooden floors, to tiles to carpets, so can't really give an example :p In regards to a crate with a constant open door, I have no possible objections in regards to that, nor do anyone else on dogforums I can think of. Cause that's effectively just a bed with a roof. Also, thanks for sharing in such an elaborate post! It's nice to read and learn about how things are done in countries across the world.
 

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I used it during puppy hood and I only very rarely use it now. If we were traveling with him I would take the crate to leave him in if we had to. If he were injured and couldn't be running around like a maniac I would use it. I also have used it on very exciting occasions when I want him to take a time out and just have a nap (Thanksgiving!! with all the people over and craziness plus I have 1 relative who is terrified of large dogs so I make sure she doesn't even have to see my terrifying cuddler). In the car I have a seatbelt but if I had a larger vehicle I would use a crate.

That said, there are some dogs who are kept in crates at all times and it is disgusting. Around the block from my house is a Mastiff who is kept in a crate in the garage. He is walked half way up the block and back twice a day and otherwise is in the crate at all times. I know this because in the summer they leave the garage door open- I have never gone by their house and seem him not in the crate or on one of his short walks.
 
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