Do Dogs Like Crates? Truths And Misconceptions

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Do dogs like crates? 

That’s something you’ll need to know if you’re about to welcome a puppy or rescue dog into your life. Some dog owners regard a dog’s crate as nothing more than prison and wouldn’t dream of confining their pet to one. However, others swear by dog crates as excellent tools for potty training and helping overcome conditions such as separation anxiety.

Read this guide for the truths and misconceptions about whether dogs like crates.

To Crate Or Not To Crate? – Two Schools Of Thought

Do Dogs Like Crates

There are two contradictory views on dog crating.

  • A crate provides a natural, den-like, comfortable space for the dog.
  • Crating dogs is inhumane and tantamount to abuse.

Basically, those two viewpoints come from seeing dog crates that are used correctly and incorrectly.

Correct Use Of Dog Crates

  • When dog crates are used correctly in training puppies and adult dogs, the crate can provide a safe, secure environment that the dog regards as his den.
  • If the crate is used appropriately, and the dog is trained to accept the crate with kindness, patience, and positive reinforcement techniques, crating your pet is not cruel. In fact, most dogs come to regard the crate as their sanctuary, a comfy space where they can feel secure and safe.
  • Many dogs even willingly head to their crate when they want somewhere quiet and private to retreat to in a busy, hectic household environment.

Incorrect Use Of Dog Crates

  • The image of a puppy crying in his crate, appearing distressed and upset by the experience of confinement, is often used by Animal Rights organizations to compare dog crates to prisons.
  • If you forcibly shut your dog in his crate as a punishment or leave him confined to his crate for long periods of time, your furry friend will quickly learn to fear and resent his crate.

So, Do Dogs Prefer Crates Or Beds?

A dog appreciates a small, safe space or den where he can feel secure and cozy, and a properly fitted-out crate can provide that experience.

If you don’t provide your pet with a crate, he will most likely seek out some other similar enclosed space, such as under furniture or in the corner of a room. Some dogs are even known to dig holes underneath bushes in a backyard and curl up there.

The Right Environment

Green and Earthy
Image Source: lindamerrill.com

Ideally, you want to create a comforting, homely environment in the crate that your dog will treat and use as his go-to private space for sleeping and relaxing.

Crates come in a variety of sizes, and the crate you choose must be the correct size for the dog. So, when inside his crate, your pet must be able to:

  • Stand up without bumping his head or ears on the roof
  • Lie down flat out without catching his toes in the crate wire mesh 
  • Sit upright without hitting his head or ears on the roof
  • Turn around without bumping into the crate sides 

That said, the crate must not be so large that the dog can use one end of the space for sleeping and the other as a toilet area.

Divider Panels

If you want to purchase a collapsible metal wire crate for your puppy to grow into, choose one that comes with a divider panel. A divider panel enables you to make the crate smaller for a puppy and move the divider to gradually enlarge the space as the puppy grows.

Ventilation

The crate should be well-ventilated. Collapsible metal crates offer the best ventilation, while an approved, the hard-sided plastic crate has built-in ventilation down the sides and a mesh front door for additional airflow.

You can also buy a furniture crate with holes punches in the aesthetic design that allow excellent airflow for your pet, and a material crate with mesh windows is also fine for traveling with your dog.

Crate Bed

It’s crucial that your dog’s crate is comfortable, so you’ll need to fit a crate mat or pad so that your pet has somewhere cozy to snuggle up and sleep.

Water Bowl

Your dog should have access to water in his crate, especially during warm weather, and if you have to leave your pet alone for a few hours. Water can be provided via a crate water bottle or a special dog crate water bowl.

Correct Training

Golden Retriever inside the crate

Once you have selected the ideal crate and set it up for your pet, you can set about crate training your dog.

We must stress that successful crate training does not happen overnight, and rushing things can lead to your dog developing a fear of crates, which is clearly not what you want to happen.

Use positive reinforcement methods to crate train your dog so that your pup comes to regard his crate as a fun, comfortable place to be. Once you’ve achieved that and your dog understands your house rules, your furry friend will enjoy spending time in his crate. 

Your dog will regard his crate as the perfect spot to rest and a comfortable, den-like bedroom where he can spend many hours at night. 

Is It Cruel To Crate A Dog While At Work?

Crated Dog

When properly trained, dogs can grow to love their crate. That’s great news for owners, as there are several advantages to crate training their dogs.

Helps Treat Separation Anxiety

Dogs are highly social animals, and some breeds hate being separated from their human family, even for a few minutes. These pups can become extremely stressed and upset when left home alone, but a crate can help with that

If your dog regards his crate as a safe space where he’s happy to spend his time, he’s much more likely to settle and relax while you’re out of sight than if he’s allowed to have the run of your home.

Makes Potty Training Quicker And Easier

As a housetraining tool crates are indispensable items! Dogs will not willingly soil their sleeping area, so keeping your dog confined to a crate for short periods can help to teach him to hold his bladder until you let him out of his crate.

Choose a crate that’s an adequate size for your pup, and use a crate divider to reduce the crate size. That can help to prevent your dog from using one end of the crate as a bathroom area. As your puppy grows, and when he’s fully potty trained, you can move the divider to give your pet more space.

Prevents Destructive Behavior

Although you should never shut your dog in his crate as a punishment, a crate can be used to teach your dog acceptable behavior. Teething puppies are notoriously destructive little creatures that will make a meal of pretty much anything they can grab hold of! Favorite items for nibbling include your shoes, carpets, door frames, wooden furniture, and anything that smells like food!

As well as being incredibly annoying and potentially expensive, chewing and destructive behaviors can be dangerous to your puppy if he gets hold of anything toxic or dangerous, such as power cables.

Keeps Your Dog Safe

Dogs are naturally curious animals that will think nothing of eating leftovers, trash, household cleaning products, and the like. That can be highly dangerous for your pet, especially if he eats some of your medication or munches on something toxic, such as week killer.  

By keeping your dog confined to his crate when you’re not around to keep an eye on him, you’re helping to keep your pet safe and out of harm’s way.

Safety In An Emergency

In the event of an emergency situation, such as a house fire, earthquake, tornado, etc., you’ll need to get your dog to safety immediately. It’s much easier for you and the emergency responders to help your pet if he’s safely confined to his crate.

Safe Travel

When traveling with your dog, it’s far safer to have your pet contained in a travel crate.

In some areas, distracted driving is an offense, and a dog bouncing around inside your car is not only dangerous, but it’s distracting, too. So, by keeping your dog confined to a crate while you’re on the road, you’re staying within the law and making travel safer for everyone.

Recovery From Illness 

If your dog has been sick or is recovering from surgery, a dog crate can make an excellent alternative sleeping spot. 

Also, if your dog is admitted to the vet clinic, he will spend his rest periods in a crate, so having your dog crate trained helps to keep your pet calm in a potentially very stressful environment.

Crate Misconceptions

dog in travelling crate

Now, let’s take a look at a few common misconceptions surrounding crate training.

Do Dogs Like Sleeping In Crates?

First of all, do dogs really like crates or hate them?

Some animal rights campaigners allege that crating a dog is tantamount to animal abuse. However, most dogs like spending time in their crates provided the crate is used correctly. The crate should be viewed by the dog as a den-like, cozy house and private bedroom where he feels safe and secure and wants to spend his time.

If the dog’s owner is misusing the crate or fails to train the dog correctly and sympathetically, the animal will learn to hate his crate. For example, if the dog is shut in his crate for 23 hours a day with no toys, no company, no water, and no potty breaks, he will definitely dread being shut in his crate.

The only exception to that would be if the dog is recuperating from injury, surgery, or illness, and confinement for long periods is essential for the dog’s full recovery.

Does Crate Training Prevent Successful Housebreaking?

Absolutely not!

Dogs and puppies will not involuntarily soil their den. So, dog crates are used by most owners to housetrain their pets. The dog quickly learns that he must wait until his owner takes his pet outside before he can relieve himself.

Of course, young puppies can’t hold their bladder for as long as older dogs, so you need to remember that when using a crate for toilet training and give your pup more frequent bathroom breaks.

What Really Delays Potty Training?

What really delays potty training is allowing the dog or puppy the unrestricted run of the house so that he can pee and poop whenever and wherever he feels the need.

By doing that, you’re teaching your pet that relieving himself in that way is okay. The dog needs to understand where it’s acceptable to go and where it’s not. By using a crate, you can train your dog to understand that going outside immediately after leaving his crate is a signal for relieving himself.

Of course, once your dog is reliably and completely housetrained, you won’t need to use the crate for that purpose. However, you should still have the crate available for your dog, as he will quickly come to recognize the crate as his den.

Is Crating Your Dog Animal Abuse?

Although there are people who misuse crates, such as leaving the dog shut in the crate alone for most of his life, crate training is not cruel when used correctly.

Two of the main reasons that dogs are handed into shelters and rescues are failed housetraining and destructiveness. Crate training can be used to correct both these behaviors, enabling those animals to find new forever homes.

Final Thoughts

Did you enjoy our article about whether or not dogs like crates? If you did, please take a moment to share it.

Provided that crate training is done correctly and sympathetically, most dogs learn to love spending time in their crates. However, a negative crate experience can lead to a dog that hates the idea of being confined to his crate. 

Does your dog love to spend time in his crate? Tell us your crate training tips in the comments box below!

Meet our writer

Alison Page was brought up with dogs and various other pets! For a few years, Alison worked as a Practice Manager in a small animal veterinary clinic. Alison is now a full-time writer, specializing in creating articles on the care and training of dogs, cats, and fish.

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