Some dog owners believe their dogs like their crates, but is this really true? Do dogs like their crates?
Well, it depends on which way you mean this. In some cases, a crate can serve as a personal space for a dog, a private bedroom. Perhaps a safe space on the 4th of July when fireworks are loud.
Most of the time, a crate in the home can be a safe space for a dog as long as it is unlocked, and they can go in and out as they like. However, when it’s closed, we would probably say, no, not really.
There are a lot of myths around crating dogs, and how dogs feel about their crates, and we think it is time to talk about this, get into detail and fight false facts with honest explanations!
Crating Misconceptions: Always Running To The Crate
If your dog is always running to their crate, it is highly unlikely that they love its crate, and it is its favorite thing ever.
A dog will run to their crate because they feel uncomfortable, insecure, or scared in the environment outside of the crate.
You are likely not creating an environment in which your dog can relax and feel safe, it could be down to abusive training, an unhappy household, or obnoxious children among many other reasons that this could be the case.
If your dog has also been confined for a long time and isolated as such this could have made your dog feel insecure outside of what he knows.
This can often be the case for dogs who have gone from an abusive past to a loving home and are struggling to come to terms that things outside of the crate are not scary anymore.
Crating Misconceptions: Liking Crate Training
Some people believe that you simply need to train your dog to like the crate. We can all agree that no one can be trained to like something, especially if it includes being confined. No one would willingly do so.
The reason training works is because your dog loves you, they want to please you and of course, they like treats too.
You can train a dog to get well acquainted with its crate, so they are more comfortable in it, but you cannot train them to like it.
Crating Misconceptions: It’s Always Good If It’s Done Right
While it is possible to follow key steps to properly crate train your dog without it being cruel or abusive, using positive affirmations and associations, limiting time inside, and never using it for punishment, you are still restricting their space.
Now, we understand that in some situations, yes, you may need to use a crate.
Sometimes a dog needs a crate to see the vet, in cases of poor health, or during travel. However, even in ways as humane as possible, you are crating the dog for your own benefit.
You are in total control in these situations. Dogs do not like this, as it is restrictive, the best thing you can do is keep time to the minimum, and avoid using the crate as much as possible.
For example, for vet visits, you could instead train your dog to be calmer in new environments, help them to feel at ease, and remind them you are there. Most dogs will happily stay on a leash in these situations.
Crating Misconceptions: Positive Associations Means It’s Good
Dogs love eating and playing, but just because they can get these things inside the crate does not mean they like the crate because of this.
This would be like saying that you love the dinner table because you always get food when you sit at it. You don’t love the table, you love the food.
Positive associations do most mean like, it just means there is a positive relationship, rather than a negative one.
Your dog does not like the crate, but is instead, not so scared of it, and is more at ease when they need to be in it for unavoidable reasons.
Crating Misconceptions: Crating = Safe
All animals like to have a safe space, a place to call their own, but this could be their bed, or a space in the yard, or a place on the couch.
Just because a crate can serve as a space does not inherently mean that it is good or that they like the crate.
Your dog may hide in there when there is a loud bang from gunfire or fireworks, simply because it is an enclosed space. However, you needn’t lock the door.
Keeping a crate there with an open door can serve as a great safe space for when they want it, but locking the door is totally unnecessary and makes it unsafe unless absolutely necessary.
Crating Misconceptions: Crating Teaches Your Dog To Be Good
Some people may use crating as a way to foster healthy relationships and promote the learning of house rules.
Basically, by putting them in the crate whenever you don’t want them to do something, or if they do something bad.
This is a really bad idea. If you use the crate as a form of punishment, the dog actually builds up a negative relationship with the crate and with you.
Training a dog takes time and effort, and this is just an easy shortcut that leads to negative relationships, and, usually, more bad behavior.
It is highly unlikely your dog actually likes their crate, in fact, it is much more likely they just have a positive relationship with it.
They may seek it out when they are scared by the 4th of July fireworks, or perhaps find it a decent place to nap.
However, there is a difference between having a positive relationship with it and liking it. At least, if your dog has a positive relationship with their crate and with you, you have used it well.