I recently stumbled across a post on a dog related forum which I will not name that read, paraphrased, Help! My (insert dog breed) is destroying my house! I don’t want to get rid of her but it’s getting to that point, and I don’t want to crate her because it’s cruel.
Hold the phones – go back. You think that crating your dog for eight hours while you work is cruel but getting rid of him/her is not? Let me be real with you – rescues are up to their ears in dogs, so you’re going to have a hard time finding a rescue. So other options? Craigslist free to good home ad? Well, come on, we all know how horribly wrong those can go – bait dog, abuse, breeding dog, guard dog, junkyard dog, I mean, if I’m not willing to meet someone at my house to sell a piece of camera equipment on Craigslist because of the shady characters you might find there, are you really willing to give your dog to some of these people? For real?
So…what’s your other option? A no-kill shelter? An SPCA, Humane Society, a pound? Because even in the no-kill shelters dogs are NEVER crated, right? Because crates are cruel…Oh no wait, I remember, shelter dogs are essentially “crated” pretty much all day.
What’s cruel is allowing your dog to tear up your house and hating him/her for it, or yelling at him/her for it because you can’t get your shit together enough to know that he/she doesn’t know any better and he/she doesn’t even know why you’re yelling at him six hours after he did something “bad.” What’s cruel is not training your dog to be happy and comfortable in a crate.
Let’s say he/she gets sick and needs to be kept in an emergency hospital overnight. Do you really think your dog is going to have free reign of the hospital, ripe with expensive surgical equipment, needles, highly toxic medicines, other animals, etc.? No, your dog is going to be in a damn crate, on the most stressful night of his/her life when he/she is SICK, sick enough to be in a hospital in the first place! How do you think that will help his/her health?
Is it cruel to crate an eight week old puppy or a one year old dog who still hasn’t learned not to chew on electrical wire? What’s more painful? Sad puppy dog eyes in the kennel or electrocution?
Crating your dog is not cruel if you do it using positive reinforcement. My dogs love their crates, and even though Panzer doesn’t stay in one anymore during the day (because he’s been trained to be trusted, novel concept, I know), he still goes in there to nap or hang out on occasion. Shelby is sleeping in her crate right now, with the door wide open. Buy a book, take your dog to training, do something, but if you show up at a shelter to surrender your dog because he/she ate your couch and crating the dog is “cruel” I will judge you. Period.