Would you like it if every time your parents left you home alone, they locked you in the closet? You’d have no room to stretch or move around and you’d be bored out of your mind for hours on end until your parents came home and let you out again. Sounds pretty awful, right?
Well, if you wouldn’t want that to happen to you, why in the world would you do this to your dog?
No matter what a dog trainer, pet shop owner, or misinformed dog enthusiast might tell you, a dog crate is just a box with holes in it. Locking dogs in a crate is simply a way to ignore them out of convenience until you decide that you have time to take care of them properly. Studies have shown that animals who are caged for extended periods of time can develop psychological disorders, including aggression, withdrawal, depression, and the inability to bond with humans.
Here are two common myths about dog crating:
This statement defies logic. There is no animal on Earth who “loves” to be caged.
Regardless of the training method, puppies don’t develop full bladder control until they are about six months old. So really, it’s totally counterproductive to crate young puppies and hope they’ll just “hold it.” They are physically incapable of doing so and are eventually forced to urinate in their crates. (Not to mention that it’s extremely uncomfortable to hold it for long periods of time. Am I right?)
- Find a humane trainer. Interactive dog training teaches guardians effective ways to communicate with their animal companions, and committed caretakers who successfully complete training can be confident that their dogs won’t engage in destructive behavior while they’re away.
- Walks! Exercise! Especially in the morning! Give your dog the chance to use all that playful energy so that he or she will be less anxious and more tired while you’re out. In addition to nice, long walks, take your pooch to a dog park to run, play, and socialize with other dogs.
- For short periods of time (two to three hours, max!), gating your dog in a tiled area covered with newspapers or pee pads and providing him or her with interesting toys—such as a Kong filled with peanut butter—should help.
- If you or your parents can’t make it home during the day to give your dog a potty break and some attention, try hiring a pet service or asking a reliable friend or neighbor to help out.
- Another dog or another animal friend can help keep a lonely dog stimulated and content while human family members are away. You could adopt a second animal as a companion to the first, take your dog to a doggie day care center, or even arrange to have your dog spend the day with someone else’s dog or vice versa. Get creative!