Dog crates and kennels have been used to keep pet dogs comfortable and secure for a very long time now, but some people wrongly believe that keeping a dog in one of these homes is cruel. This article aims to dispel some of these myths and help you to understand why keeping a dog in a crate or kennel can be good for their health and help your pet have a healthy and happy life.
Many people make the mistake of thinking of dogs as being like humans but in a fur coat. This might sound humorous, but there is a serious point here. Dogs have different needs to humans. One of those needs is the urge to “den”. In a natural environment wild dogs will dig a hole big enough for them to sleep in, or perhaps flatten grass in a small area by walking in circles. This is classic denning behaviour. Aside from making a comfortable bed in the grass or a draught free place to sleep and perhaps bring up pups in the case of digging behaviours, both of these activities give the dog a place that is exclusively theirs. As dogs are territorial creatures these dens give them a sense of security and help to lower their stress.
In a noisy, modern home a dog still has the need to be able to have their own space, no matter how much they love us. Providing dog crates and kennels is just one way in which we can say to our pet “This space is yours. You are safe here”. What a human see’s as confinement, a dog will see as security. Understanding this difference is crucial. Of course a dog crate or kennel should not be used to excess or as a form of punishment to the dog, else they will come to associate it with punishment and its beneficial effect will be lost.
A human analogy to a dog crate would be placing a baby in its cot or playpen. No one would suggest that placing a baby in its cot to sleep is cruel. It allows the baby to sleep undisturbed in a secure environment. Just as we would not leave a baby all day in a cot, we should not confine a dog all day in a crate. Providing good judgement is applied, dog crates and kennels can be a great help in raising a well balanced animal.