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I crated my puppy a LOT the first month or two I had him. My situation was pretty specific for me to do that. One example is that my puppy came with me to work. So on top of being in a crate 8 hours at night he was also crated 8 hrs during a work day in my office, with 30 minute breaks throughout the day to potty, socialize, and train.

But instead of telling you how many hours to crate your puppy, I will recommend that you observe your puppy's health and demeanor. If your puppy seems content in the crate and is getting plenty of socialization and enrichment when he is out, then what you are doing is likely fine. People who dislike crates usually have a personal aversion to the idea of caging a dog. And I will be the first to agree that excessive isolation or confinement is detrimental to a dog's mental and physical health. But it really is not about the number of hours. It is about the quality of a puppy's time inside a crate (or pen, or loose, or anywhere), and the quality of a puppy's time outside of the crate.
 

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"He needed the rest but he wasn't able to make a good choice on his own." Well said!

Yeah that was Brae as a puppy too. His quality of life was higher the more he was crated. Less stress, less frustration, calmer body language... And still very energetic, social, clear headed, and eager (but not frantic) when he was out of the crate. He was arguably crated the most out of his littermates (not that I know the exact amount his littermates were crated), but had great musculature and bone development per vet and chiropractor visits, multiple Xrays, and OFA eval when he was around 2yo. And actually grew up to be the largest in his litter much to my dismay.

But I want to be cautious here. So I am emphasizing that more crating is not necessarily better for all puppies out there. It was for mine, given my very specific living situation and my puppy's temperament.
 

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Sorry, can I ask what you mean by that? Of course my opinion is personal but it’s based off of dog’s behavior, needs and facts/studies on the subject. Then it’s also a cultural aspect since it’s illegal to crate your dog where I live and it’s viewed as animal cruelty.
Happy to clarify! What I meant was I have literally talked to dozens of people about crate training and they blatantly say something like 'I don't like the idea of putting my puppy in a cage'. But at the same time, the reason why I am talking to them is they are stressed about behaviors like 'I'm just trying to sit on the couch and my puppy is biting me' or 'my puppy runs all over the house and I don't even see where he pees'.

I don't think a crate is the be all end all of training. Baby gates, closing doors, tethering, drag lines, pens... There are so many good management options depending on the household and the puppy. But crates=bad is overly simplistic. I appreciate the sources that you listed (though I would not call PETA reputable). None of them claim that crating is harmful. They do claim that excessive confinement of many kinds (even listing tethering and keeping a dog in the yard too long) is detrimental to a dog's physical and mental health. That is a very reasonable consideration. However, I would not use these studies to discount crates entirely. It's totally fine that some countries ban crates. That said, I would wager that if you live in a country where no one crates their dogs, you don't see the positive outcomes of crating either - I spoke with a woman yesterday whose hoarding case dog sees his crate as his safe space. This week I worked with a bitch who gave birth in a large crate of her choosing, even though there was an open whelping box available. At work this week, my coworkers dogs were crated in the staff room, stretched out and snoozing or chewing on a Kong - with plenty of breaks to play with each other in a large field.

To be fair, I've seen horrible, abusive use of crates too. Dogs who grow up in their crate and have splayed feet, severe behavior issues, and other problems.
 

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I want to add on to two of the links provided.

Keeping Dogs In Kennels Can Literally Drive Them Crazy
This one references a study done on 30 police dogs that live in kennel situations. They equate well-trained for police work to ability to settle in kennel environments, which has no correlation. I think if you look at ANY dog in a kennel situation (I work in a shelter), you will get a very different picture. Also, having worked with police and detection dogs, I can agree that they can go crazy... Because often times the training revolves entirely around the work, not on settling. I think any study done on police dogs living in a kennel environment does not give accurate perspectives on dogs that are crated in home settings. It's also interesting that the article references the Stafford shelter in Montana. I know that shelter personally and I even have videos they've sent me of dogs being kennel stressed. "Kennel stress" is a term I use very frequently and it is a very real thing. But again, this is referencing dozens of dogs housed in a wall-to-wall kennel environment. I would not use this to reference dogs who are crated in a home setting.

Crating Dogs | PETA
PETA is an extreme activist organization. A lot of what is said in this link is extremely one sided or flat out wrong. Unrelated to crate training, but this article shows that PETA euthanized 90% of their animals in a Virginia shelter in 2014: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nati...4e9af2-c8fa-11e4-bea5-b893e7ac3fb3_story.html Their intake was around 3000 animals. They blame this number on the number of unwanted pets, no-kill shelters turning pets away.

But this municipal shelter (ie, they do not turn pets away and intake all surrenders) in the same state, 3 hours away, has an annual intake of about 4000-5000 animals, has had a 90% or higher live release rate since 2013.

Just showing that PETA is far from reputable, in the sheltering world or in the training world.

Here is a far more reputable source by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior: Housetraining Tips - AVSAB
The article is on housetraining, but they speak fairly on the use of a crate as well. It is hard to find a position statement on crating among American organizations because it is unanimously accepted that a crate is a great tool when used correctly.
 
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I think we come from vastly different cultures and short of showing you hundreds of videos of dogs very contently enjoying their crate, I don't know what to say?

I am very open minded to the idea of not crating dogs. If this country banned crates tomorrow, I would not be out there protesting. I would make better use of pens, baby gates, tethers, etc. That said, it doesn't really seem like you are here to learn more about how crates can be positive. You've made some pretty general statements correlating use of crates to irresponsible pet ownership.

If I may ask, have you been to this country? Have you ever seen a dog enjoying their crate? Have you worked with police dogs? If not, you are making broad assumptions about a few things here. (for example, assuming police dogs receive stimulation on par with pet dogs... ) You say you've "talked to dozen of owners that need help with their dog that shows clear signs of distress, under-stimulation, discomfort and separation anxiety, meanwhile they’re crating their dogs for hours each day and stand by that method." Are you a trainer who works with families in this country who crate their dogs?
 

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I'll take one more stab at sharing a different perspective than yours - not to convince you to like crates or use them, but perhaps to help you see that not all use of crates (even for 8 hours during the day) are detrimental do the dog. No sentiments, just facts.

I've personally seen hundreds of dogs enjoy their crates. Not just tolerate - but enjoy. Behaviors that indicate enjoyment:
-dog willingly goes in, and chooses to go in without prompting
-dog chooses to sleep in the crate when other options (ex. floor, couch, dog bed) are available
-dog shows loose and happy body language when in the crate, including ability to express full range of motion (ex. lying on back with legs splayed)
-dog chooses to enter crate in stressful situations (ex. loud sounds, strangers, etc)
-dog brings other motivators (ex. food, toys) into the crate when other options are available to enjoy those items

A crate is a space, just like a room or a pen or a hallway blocked off by a gate. In behavior, management of space is an antecedent. It can function as an establishing operation (ex. dog wants more space and movement after being crated), or an abolishing operation (ex. decrease the dog's desire to be in confinement). I agree that if crating causes an excessive desire for space and movement, or causes the dog to want confinement less and less, then crating is punishing and inhumane for that dog. However, if a dog is crated and the dog shows no change in behavior (ex. not more or less willing to be crated next time), then the crate is not punishing. If the dog shows an increase in behavior (ex. chooses to enter crate more and spend more time in it), then the crate is rewarding. ALL scenarios exist in the use of crates. The crate in itself is no more or less punishing than any other setup. This is in contrast to other tools that are banned in other countries (ex. shock collar), which by design is a punishing tool used to decrease behaviors. When discussing behavior, the learner decides if a stimulus is punishing. IE, It is less useful for people to say "crates are bad" than to observe the behaviors of the dog that is crated. There are many dogs who find crates punishing. But there are also many dogs who find crates reinforcing. If a dog is in distress when loose in a room, but shows calm body language in a crate, then in that scenario a crate is more humane for that dog than being in a loose room (I know this dog, btw).

Here's my opinion. I could care less if crates are banned tomorrow. Puppies and dogs need management, which varies depending on their behavior and the household they live in. There are many ways to manage a dog, and the crate is one of many efficient tools that can work. Of all the pet issues plaguing this country (there are many!), the use of crates is almost a nonissue next to so many others that exist.
 

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🤷‍♀️ No, you don't need to be an educated trainer to have an opinion on how to care for dogs. But everyone seems to be enough of an expert these days to make broad claims about training without hands on experience on the topic they are advising on. There are many things that dog professionals disagree on in this country. The general use of crates (yes, to lock dogs up in during the day) is not one of them. I am speaking from thousands of hours of hands on, professional experience. But if your internet conversations grant you more wisdom, then all the more power to you.

To the OP and anyone else reading this and considering a crate for their dog, my recommendations are the same - the crate can be a wonderful tool if the dog is trained to enjoy it, if the dog shows no distress when crated. There are many resources that help you do this. Here is one by kikopup (no affiliation to me, just a great trainer and a great channel for training resources):

To folks feeling guilt over crating their dog over a work day, I recommend setting up a camera and seeing what behaviors your dogs are exhibiting when crated. If they are calm, enjoying food enrichment, sleeping, etc. then they are fine. If they are showing stress signals (heavy panting, pacing, digging, chewing the bars, excessive vocalization, salivating, etc.) then either the crate is not a good option or you should reduce the number of hours your dog is crated. Obvious factors to take into account - make sure the dog has appropriate exercise and enrichment prior to leaving them alone (crate or not).
 

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I want to add that, in all fairness, I do fine Sunflower's points to be interesting and I am not trying to argue for the sake of arguing. I do follow the science as best as I can, in my personal and professional training. I think it would be interesting if crates were outright banned, and like I said I would not be up in arms if that were the case (I could say the same for a lot of training tools). I would actually love to see a world where crates are no longer needed. And in my personal training I use a crate to teach skills that later allow my dog to be free roaming. That said, I've made it pretty clear that I have no issue with the idea of crates themselves.

I've tried really hard to find research surrounding the effects of crating on companion dogs. I've also tried to learn why dog crates are banned in Sweden. (The vet I work with has lived and worked in Sweden for years, so I'll check in with her.). I've read a lot of fair articles that debate the use of the crate. But there is nothing objective on the topic. It's kind of like the breed ban in the States. There is no actual science that supports it but there are laws on it anyways. This is in contrast to laws like the shock collar ban - there are tomes of studies that show the negative effects of shock collars, even as many people have gotten desirable results from the tool. Honestly, I was imagining that the crate ban was tied to an effort to reduce puppy mills or something, but that doesn't seem to be a problem in many European countries. So I am perplexed here.

But if crating is deemed so unanimously cruel, it should be easy to find research that proves this point. Not research done on working dogs that don't live in homes. Not research done on shelter dogs. There is research that shows the physiology of dogs living in kennel conditions is entirely different than that of dogs living in homes. My shelter participated in studies that show how even one stress hormone is present in drastically different amounts between kenneled dogs and owned dogs. So what we need is research done on companion dogs whose owners utilize a crate - the study size would be thousands, given how popular crates are in this country.
 

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The PETA article was wrong because it was full of absolute statements without a shred of evidence. It's not really worth debating with you Sunflower because you lack enough of an understanding of dog behavior to discuss this objectively. You wrote

"“A good sign that your dog is loving the crate is that he offers to go in again”.
Ehhm.. I mean, you do understand that the dog goes in there because he wants the treat and not because he loves the crate. If I taught a dog to stand on its hind legs and then they start doing it on their own, it doesn’t mean they love standing on its hind legs but that they understand what they have to do to get the treat."

That is the very basis of R+ training, to increase behavior - to increase the dog's desire to perform a behavior. Whereas if the crate was punishing, or induced a state of shut down stress, the dog would not choose to go in it as frequently or stay in it as long. I KNOW that a dog going in willingly does not equate a dog being locked in. But how a dog behaves when not locked can inform how the dog feels when locked in, because the same stimulus is being used on the dog. Also, because you keep referencing learned helplessness... There is a vast different between "calm behavior" and absence of behavior/shut down. You can tell if a dog is shut down in a crate, versus performing natural and calm behavior. I have seen both.

In contrast, the studies you keep referencing are valid but you are using them to make correlations. And that is simply not how it works.

You brought up the idea that maybe folks in the country haven't asked the question of 'why crates' enough. I think that's a very interesting idea! So interesting that I emailed two canine researchers and posted the question on a FB group centered around canine behavior analysis. But here's the flipside... How much has Sweden asked the question 'why not crates'? It is worthy to consider that too!

Someone provided me this link: https://cratesinsweden.wixsite.com/crates/crates-in-sweden
And here's what I've found so far:
This article mentions "There's been studies showing that dogs stored in crates get abnormal behaviors. (Suzanne Hetts et. al. 1991, Robert C. Hubrecht et al 1992; Bonnie Beerda et al 1999)."

Suzanne Hetts, 1992 "Influence of housing conditions on beagle behavior" http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download... Done in a laboratory setting. Her 1991 is https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2053257/. I can't see the full article but it is not focused on crates/companion dogs.

Robert Hubrecht 1992 "Correlates of pen size and housing conditions on the behaviour of kennelled dogs"
https://www.sciencedirect.com/.../abs/pii/S0168159105800966
Study done on dogs in animal shelters and labs

Bonnie Beerda et all 1999 "Chronic stress in dogs subjected to social and spatial restriction. I. Behavioral responses". https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10336149/
Again, I can't access the full article but this is the first sentence in the abstract "Six weeks of social and spatial restriction were used as a model to induce chronic stress in Beagles."

Sunflower, believe it or not I am looking for hard evidence to validate YOUR viewpoint. Because I am open to it. But like I said, you don't seem open at all to seeing my (our?) viewpoint. I have objective information on how dogs behave in crates but me being American and a professional with thousands of hours means nothing to you. So 🤷‍♀️ . I will take this debate to other professionals who may be able to find me the answers I'm looking for.
 

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I don’t know why you’re focusing on me not having hands on experience with crate training in the states. Like I’ve said previously, I base my opinion on the facts around dogs behavior and needs. Being confined into a small space for hours and hours, everyday, immensely interferes with a dogs natural behavior, habits and needs. But you’re welcome to prove me otherwise.
So this poster is stance is entirely based on "my opinion on the facts" and not experience. That would be like me reading books on dog training and then claiming I am a dog trainer.

Are you saying that there are not cases where the use of a crate itself is the reason for a problem? Or what is it I have been misinformed about through my internet conversations? Does this not happen do you mean?
Not at all. I've said many times I've seen horrible situations surrounding dogs and crates.

To be fair I don’t think you can assume that it’s not harmful because the lack of research on the subject. On the other hand I think you should be required to be able to proof that the way you care for a dog is not harmful or abusive. Not the other way around. With that argument you’re claiming that you should be allowed to care or handle your dog in whatever way you want unless you have a study that proofs it to be wrong. Not to apply all the science and facts about dogs to different situation to determine if it’s harmful or not.
I am not saying you should be allowed to care or handle dogs in whatever way unless a study claims otherwise. But there ARE studies that support the obvious (ex, don't hit your dog). However, your first sentence is very interesting. Because when laws are created in an absence of studies to support it, there can be consequences. So far, Sweden's ban on crates (which I don't dislike!) holds as much water as BSL.


“A stimulus-poor environment that prevents the dog from performing its natural behavior is a common reason for stereotypes to develop (Schipper et al., 2008).”
Study done on dogs confined to yards. What this study could inform - the welfare of dogs kept in yards.

“In a bachelor's thesis, Olby (2017) conducted a survey with owners of 75 dogs in convalescence after orthopedic surgery, as the dog has a lower activity level and limited areas to move on, and found that both the incidence of stereotypical and misplaced behaviors increased.“
Study done on dogs that have undergone orthopedic surgery. What this study could inform - best practices for housing dogs recovering from orthopedic surgery.

“Stress can be triggered if the dog's movement possibilities are limited, for example if it is tied up or stays in a kennel or cage for longer periods, but also if it is allowed to be in the garden without being allowed to go out and walk.”
Wherever this citation is... it is a general statement. It would be similar to if someone wrote "obesity can be triggered if a person snacks too much on processed sugars and potato chips" and then a law was enacted to ban all sodas. Obviously there are detriments to dogs being caged for long periods with limited movement. But it doesn't mean there aren't positive outcomes too.

“Situations that can contribute to the dog learning helplessness are if it is subjected to one or more shocks, or if it is trapped in a cage, resting yard or is chained or tied up for longer than short periods.”
(same as above)
 

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Well said, Daysleepers.

I'd also - and not trying to be snarky here, this is genuine - really want to know how you would manage a dog with genuine separation anxiety that requires both pharmaceutical intervention and training, who will seriously injure themselves if not restrained, during the period it takes for the medication to on-board and then the training to be effective (which can quite literally take months), if you have to work outside the home to afford the dog's treatment? This is one of those 'no good solutions' scenarios that always bothers me, so I'd love to hear what your take on it is.
I want to talk about this point briefly. I started as very pro-crate for separation issues IF the dog is already conditioned to enjoy their crate. But I've had some really interesting talks with Malena DeMartini and she pretty much never uses crates in treating severe separation anxiety. Her words during our conversation were something like 'I cannot think of a case where a crate was part of the solution'. I am still wrapping my head around the idea and to be fair Malena did not say that crates can never be part of the solution. Just that they often times are unnecessary and that they do sometimes inhibit progress. I think the treatment process for SA is very, very meticulous. Prescribed desensitization, behavior meds, and then literally putting resources into never leaving the dog alone (daycare, sitter, stay with a friend, etc). I've presented the idea of adding some operant training to help with the process (ex. Chirag's bucket-game style training to teach the dog to 'start' separation training, shaping calm behaviors on a mat, etc.). Malena entertained my ideas but said that pure DS was, in general and in her experience, the fastest way to progress.
 

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Didn't know I can @ people @DaySleepers! Yeah, I've heard of situations where people pretty much sedate the dog to prevent harm. But I'd like to imagine that it is a last resort scenario, as it pretty much functions like a bandaid over the problem. A lot of this tips over into discussions of quality of life and owners of SA dogs are constantly making hard decisions, evaluating numerous pros and cons. But I've had some pretty hard discussions along the lines of - the person needs to make a living to support themselves and their dog, the dog cannot be left alone, what is the dog's quality of life when it is drugged to the point of sedation so that the owner can go out and make a living, no resources for alternatives, is euthanasia more humane. It truly is a horrible challenge to deal with. The other crazy thing is I've seen many instances where the maximum safe dosage of a drug or cocktail or drugs does not sedate a dog enough. Really heartbreaking for all parties involved. Many shelters that are limited intake do not place dogs with severe SA. I can't speak for the whole country, but I am relieved that in my area incidences of truly severe SA are rare.
 

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This is a bit off topic from crating, so I apologize if this is inappropriate for this sub (and please feel free to delete).

But I was so tickled by this thread and I want to share that discourse on this forum has led to some pretty tangible outcomes for me in real life. As I mentioned, I reached out to some scientists about this topic. I am now in the middle of discussions with two separate canine behavior researchers about the possibility of doing canine welfare studies at my shelter. I was also talking to a someone with a PhD in behavior analysis whose done a lot of canine research, and was encouraged to pursue a Masters in applied animal welfare and behavior. Zoom meeting scheduled to learn more. Full disclaimer - none of this is to say that things will come to fruition. But the point is, I appreciate debate, different perspective, and opportunities to ask hard questions.

PS. No one I contacted had any studies answering the crate question. I asked a LOT of people, from researchers to certified professional trainers. There is a really interesting study on beagles in a lab setting, and findings implied quality of space matters more than quantity of space (Hetts, 1992 - "Influence of housing conditions on beagle behavior"). But lab setting, small sample size of 18 beagles. Someone needs to do a crate study on owned dogs!
 
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