What’s with the crates? A new dog owners bemusement at the crating practice.
OK, I buckled – we got a bloody puppy! I did well – I resisted the kids pester power for ten years . I hate commitment – how I became married still amazes me. So the thought of being responsible for another creature when I’m still shell shocked from kids was inconceivable. However, as was rightly pointed out to me, taking the commitment and responsibilities of having a dog so seriously – must mean I’m a pretty good candidate for a puppy home. Not just for christmas right? Another consideration was our daughters allergies – until we stumbled across the Cavachon – damn another good reason out the window. So, now we have a hypoallergenic pup and I have it for the next maybe fifteen years – so I guess, like the kids, I want it to look back on life and think yeah – that mother was alright!
Again, like the kids, I want it to be well behaved, obedient, friendly and above all, not shit on the living room floor. And just like when the kids were babies I have a sudden abundance of unsolicited advice. The first being from the breeder, who along with the puppy starter pack and microchip, tried to sell me a cage. It wasn’t a cage apparently, because it was baby pink or baby blue and this therefore made it a crate. The breeder was quite aghast at my refusal – I’m sure the loss of a $115 sale hurt, but I’m sure the $1000 they gained from our need for a 1st generation hypoallergenic guarantee soothed the pain. Needless to say we parted company with the stern warning of I’ll regret it ringing in my ears.
I grew up in the UK. I don’t recall ever seeing a crate or seeing it endorsed as a training tool. I don’t know how long it’s been around in the US but when I moved here, it was well established as the norm. To a newbie it’s the most bazaar concept. The notion that because dogs are in essence a den animal so they need a crate…Well isn’t your home the den? Shouldn’t they feel secure everywhere in your home? Want to protect the home? Desire to eliminate outside the home?
Now that I’m part of the dog club I’ve realised the crate issue is very much a defensive issue. Reminiscent of breast feeding being promoted as best after years of conditioning that it was inappropriate. Mothers feeling blamed for making the wrong choices when there had been a huge industry making money out of them. What loving dog owner wants to be considered cruel? They followed advice. They were told crates are best by a multi million dollar industry.
Now I have to say, I know saying that putting your well cared for pup into a crate is cruel is akin to saying spanking kids is abuse… until people have stopped putting their cigarette butts out on baby’s skin let’s not sweat the small stuff! I wouldn’t consider crating a puppy for a few hours cruel, like say, a whale spending a lifetime in a swimming pool – imagine that? However one must concede that locking a puppy in a cage can’t be conducive to a well adjusted, secure, happy animal.
People say their pup feels secure in the crate. Does that mean it feels insecure out of it? I’m guessing a child born in a jail probably feels pretty insecure in the free world too. People say it won’t poo where it sleeps , well neither will I but if you tie me to the bed I will eventually! I would prefer the freedom to just learn where the toilet is. I’ve been asked if I'm worried about the furniture being chewed – not enough to cage the puppy. What if it gets hurt on something when I’m out? I’ve dog proofed the house to the best of my ability and it’s a great motivator to keep the house tidy.
Our puppy seems really happy. I’m guessing he experienced a crate as when he first arrived he hid under the sofa, but after a few days he’s found numerous sleeping spots – the bottom of the stairs, on top of my feet when I’m standing in the kitchen, our little boys trundle. Yes he does have little hiding places when he’s fed up with the kids – but so do I ! And they have strict warnings to leave him there when he does. Wish I had the same consideration. He has a few accidents but seems to be getting the concept of doing his business outside – and the furniture – well, to hell with it, they aren’t antiques.
So If you’re a loving owner and used a crate, please don’t crucify yourself, I’m sure your dog is fine and I may soon eat my words when the house is trashed and there’s dog crap everywhere , I’m not a dog whisperer. All I’m asking is that new dog owners seriously ask themselves who is benefiting most from the crate business. I’m sure it’s not the dogs!
I grew up with dogs, my mother loved Labs and German Shepherds. She managed to train them all to where you could take a steak out of their hands without so much as a growl. They knew all the rules, they knew their place and were securer for it. She did that without any form of a cage. Just positive reinforcement and consistency. If she can do that with a German shepherd I can do it with a ten pound Cavachon!
And so can you.