While crate training a puppy has plenty of benefits it can have drawbacks too. It’s a process which can speed up your dog’s obedience training and when done correctly help them feel safe. But it’s not for everyone, and more importantly not for every dog; the crate can be a dog’s castle or their cage.
This is part two in a two-part series that explores what crate training is, why it’s done and the good and bad that can result. In this article, we look at the drawbacks of crate training.
Find out about the benefits of crate training in part one: Should you crate train a puppy?
What is crate training?
Crate training uses a dog’s natural urge to cosy up in small spaces (known as denning behaviour) to teach behavioural boundaries. For example, a crate can clearly signal when it’s downtime for your dog but note it must never be used as punishment.
Because dogs naturally don’t want to pee and poop where they sleep, crate training can fast track toilet training.
However, while many dogs benefit from crate training, it can also have adverse effects.
We explore these in more detail…
When NOT to crate train your dog
Many people feel crate training a puppy is cruel. But take heart in the fact that even when there’s no nearby crate dogs tend to curl up under or behind things like tables, beds, and blankets. That’s because they have a natural penchant for denning behaviour.
Denning is an innate behaviour that helps dogs feel stable because the enclosed, quiet space is a relief for their senses.
However, you or your dog may have adverse feelings toward a crate. For instance, you perceive the crate as a cage in which case your dog is also likely to form the same associations. Remember, they’re very perceptive of our emotions.
And your dog may have negative associations of their own too, in which case you may want to call in a trainer or behaviourist to help them unlearn and relearn the correct associations. Or you may decide together with pooch that crate training isn’t for your family.
Here are some reasons not to crate train your pup:
Con #1: Pet shop puppy
Puppies from pet shops may have already developed negative associations with confinement. In a pet shop being in an enclosure isn’t complemented with playtime outdoors and free roaming through a territory.
Also, puppies in pet shops are often in an enclosure with other puppies. Although this may simulate pups in a den, unlike a den, there are no quiet isolated corners when puppies need downtime.
Con #2: Rescue dog
Rescue dogs come with a wide array of histories and quite often trauma. Like us, dogs do retain the memories of their past traumatic experiences and need to be coached and helped to overcome these.
Who knows if your rescue dog was confined as a form of punishment? Or maybe neglected by being locked up for days? If so, a crate can act as a barrier that prevents your dog from bonding with and feeling close to and protected by you.
Con #3: Babysitter
Never under any circumstances can a dog be left in a crate while you’re away all day at work. A crate is for short periods only and needs to contrast with other living areas and activities. Your dog must willingly go in and stay in their crate or it’s not being utilised properly.
Crate training must never replace physical activities either. As pet parents, it’s imperative to not underestimate the importance of playtime for dogs. Spending too much time in a crate can cause dogs to become anxious and it can atrophy their muscles. Find out how long is too long further down…
Con #4: Separation anxiety in pets
If a dog has separation anxiety or isolation distress, then crate training won’t benefit them. On the contrary, it may foment deeper levels of fear. Not every dog needs or suits crate training, so listen to your dog’s needs and follow your gut.
Con #5: Vomiting or diarrhoea
Crate trained dogs need to be out of the crate when they’re vomiting or have diarrhoea. If they soil their cage it’s the equivalent of you or I doing the same said activities in our beds – eek!
Even after you change the crate bedding your dog’s association toward their crate may change. A negative association with the crate means they lose their den, which neither you nor they will want.
You also should never leave your puppy or dog inside a crate for too long even when they’re healthy. They could end up soiling it, which will further any associations with entrapment and unhealthy isolation.
If your dog is misbehaving and you’re not sure why, they might be sick or injured. Dog insurance helps reduce your pet’s medical costs across their lifetime. Our optional wellness package also covers costs for when they’re well (like microchipping, boarding fees, vaccinations desexing and more).
Check out our pet insurance section to see what’s covered and what’s not.
Crate training – over to you
We’d love to hear your crate training story in the comments below: