Ask Jake & Scout

Crate Training

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Dear Jake and Scout,

I feel so guilty! I have recently taken in a stray dog hoping to find her home or a wonderful new one. She is a fairly young dog and her dog manners are not the best – likely the result of living on the streets for a majority of her life. In an attempt to make her an ideal pet for someone, I have been working to teach her to sit and stay, to not dig or escape the back yard, and to behave well when indoors. She is a terrific dog on all fronts, except she does not do well when left unsupervised in the house for any extended period of time. She is housebroken, fortunately, but wants to chew on anything she can get her teeth on. I have had to repair a sofa, replace an end table, and discard countless socks, shoes, and decorative items. She has many safe dog toys and chews to keep her busy and two other dogs to occupy her, but she seems to bore with them quickly. I have resorted to kenneling her for the 7 hours that I am away at work during the day, or when I have to leave for more than 1 hour at a time. When we are at home, she is a well-mannered, well-adjusted dog that is free to roam about the house and yard. I just can’t afford anymore destruction and really am not prepared to give up on her being a great pet for someone one day. Am I cruel and crazy?

Sincerely,
Disaster's Master

Dear Disaster's Master,

First, I have to stand up and give you lots of praise: very few humans would put up with what you have with their own pets, much less with a stray. Although your new companion can’t say it, I’m certain that she appreciates your efforts and wants to please you. With that said, let me stress to you a very important point – there is nothing wrong with crating your pet so long as it is for a limited amount of time and there is adequate room, shelter, and fresh water to keep him/her comfortable. Many, many pets are crated each day in effort to keep them safe while preventing damage to their homes or to isolate the pets from stressful situations. As such, a crate is often a sanctuary for pets when they need time away to unwind or to ease anxieties associated with visitors, thunderstorms, or fireworks. Seven hours is not excessive so long as your dog is given the opportunity to exercise and socialize once you have returned home.

Remember: socialization is one of the most important tools in preparing a dog for placement in a forever home. So, don’t stress about the crating – just always make the most of your time together when you are home. Don’t give up – I know you will be proud of the end results when you see her doing so well with her new family one day.

Crating philosophy

Crate training uses a dog's natural instincts as a den animal. A wild dog's den is his home, a place to sleep, hide from danger, and raise a family. The crate becomes your dog's den, an ideal spot to snooze or take refuge during a thunderstorm.

  • The primary use for a crate is housetraining. Dogs don't like to soil their dens.
  • The crate can limit access to the rest of the house while he learns other rules, like not to chew on furniture.
  • Crates are a safe way to transport your dog in the car.
  • Read more about crating philosophy from The Humane Society of the United States

Best of luck,
Scout