Pet crates are awesome tools for training and providing dogs with a place safe place just to hang out away from the family. However, used too often or as a replacement for walking a dog, and the crate can turn into a miserable dog prison that is both abusive and an anti-training tool.
Many trainers recommend using a dog crate to potty train puppies and dogs. The reasoning is simple. A dog does not like to relieve himself where he sleeps. Used constructively, a dog does not stay in the crate more than a few hours at a time before he is taken out to relieve himself and stretch his legs. Over time, he learns that he does not go potty indoors. When a grown dog is left in a crate 8 to 10 hours a day, he may or may not be able to control his bladder that long and ends up having to live in a wet or dirty crate for hours while waiting until you get home. Dogs can also develop bladder problems over time from trying to hold on too long.
Life in a wire crate such as the type some breeders use becomes a special kind of hell for dogs. Dogs have pads on the bottom of their feet that are meant for walking on the ground, not for walking on wire day after day. The dog's paws may become damaged, and the dog may develop hip and leg problems. Left untreated, this damage can lead to a crippled animal who can no longer enjoy walking.
A crate should be large enough for your dog to turn around in and to stretch out for a nice nap. A crate that is too small is not only uncomfortable, it can be abusive, especially if the dog is left in the crate for long periods of time. Imagine how you would feel if you were crammed into a box with no way to stretch stiff muscles. After a while, your limbs would fall asleep, and you may have problems standing when you finally got out. Your dog feels much the same.
A crate should feel like a second home for a dog, a special place where he can hide away for a nap or to chew on a bone. If the crate is used to punish him or as an all-day prison, he may develop an anxiety or fear of small spaces. The crate is no longer a training tool, but rather a place of torture to be dreaded.
- David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images