A Friendly Debate: To Crate or Not to Crate?

dog in crate

“Is it okay to crate my dog?”

“How long can I leave my dog in the crate?”

“Is a crate a temporary tool or should it be a permanent fixture in the home throughout the dog’s life?”

These are questions most dog owners find themselves asking from the moment they bring home their little (or big) bundle of joy.

Some people believe it’s cruel to keep a dog confined to a crate for hours at a time. They can’t imagine being cooped up in a cage just big enough to turn around in—never mind spending the day or night there. What they may not realize is that dogs actually have a natural nesting instinct, and that having a quiet, cozy den to retreat to can actually be comforting to them. So, it would be a mistake to see the use of a crate as inherently unpleasant for the dog.

Still, there are two schools of thought about crates. One maintains that crates should strictly be used for a limited period of weeks or months until the dog is housetrained and can be trusted not to create a mess or damage the home. The other says that crates can function as a permanent retreat within the home for the life of the dog.

In the end, it is your choice. If you get past the stage where the crate has served the house training purpose, but you feel more comfortable keeping your dog crated during the few hours you are away from them, that is a legitimate position to take. If, on the other hand, you feel comfortable giving your dog free reign of the home when no one is home and that works out, that’s fine, too.

Regardless of what we’ve said up until now, there are certain rules to crating that responsible owners should always follow:

  • Crates should NEVER be used as a form of punishment.
  • Don’t let the crate deprive your dog of exercise and enrichment. If you are away from home for an excessively long period during the day, consider hiring a dog walker or placing your pup in doggy daycare. These are both great crate alternatives that will give your dog a way to expend some energy while you are away.
  • Whether you’re house-training a young puppy, or just welcoming a new dog into your home, it’s important to have patience during the process.

For more information about proper crate introduction or crate training techniques, check out these helpful resources: