One of the worst punishments for humans is to lock them away, particularly in isolation. Yet this is what many otherwise caring people do to their dogs, and other animals, on a daily basis.
Crating a dog seems to be a normal habit for many. Yet it denies them freedom, access to companionship and encourages muscle atrophy and constipation, at the very least.
Dog crates can have a purpose. When traveling, particularly by plane, a dog must be confined. Sometimes it is best to use a dog crate when introducing a new animal into the family, at least for the first few minutes to establish if there is likely to be conflict.
Crating a puppy at night allows you to have him in your bedroom without creating a mess. This is better for the puppy than confining him in isolation, in the laundry. Other uses for crating a dog for very short periods can be useful.
But to confine a dog to a crate all day, while you are at work, is nothing less than extreme cruelty.
Dog are highly active animals. In the wild, dogs can travel many miles in a single day. It is not for nothing that some dog breeds are used for herding sheep or cattle, for pulling sleds or even for hunting. All these pursuits, whatever you think of them, need dogs who have stamina and endurance. Most dogs have both.
Dogs are highly social animals. They are pack animals. They need companionship. Without at least one other pack animal (be it another dog, any other animal or you), they are miserable. They may adapt. They may compensate for the loss. But they will never be happy. Or balanced.
The triple wammy of no freedom, no room to move and no companion will lead to untold emotional problems and a myriad of physical health problems.
If you cannot have a dog without crating him for long or regular periods, you would be much kinder not to have a dog.
Some breeders crate their dogs as they mature. This is even worse, as young dogs need to have a lot of exercise to physically mature. They also need to be in the company of other dogs to learn how to socialise.
If you buy a dog, you are wise to know if they have ever been crated for long periods. If they have, you are risking taking on an emotionally and physically disturbed dog.
Such a dog is likely to be fearful of open spaces, at least to begin with. Muscle tone will be undeveloped, so care needs to be taken not to overdo the exercise initially.
They will probably have no social skills. Punishing them will enforce the fear. The best way to socialise such a dog is with another dog up to the task. Patience, a gentle approach, but also using language that dog understands, rather than human language, will all go a long way to bring such a disturbed dog back.
Crating a dog (or any other animal) for any length of time should be illegal. Don’t fall into the trap of doing it to make your life easier. Think of your dog first. You asked him into your life. You make the changes. You adapt.
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