Prison or secure retreat? It all depends on how YOU use the crate, because dogs are genetically programmed to “den.”
*special note: Gunner Kennels does not condone kenneling your dog for extended periods of time in any crate. Dogs were not made for long stretches of daily confinement. Please consider a better option if you are crating your dog each day for multiple hours.
Recent viral videos like this one have caused a few commenters to claim claiming that kenneling your dog is cruel.
To us, that assertion seems pretty ridiculous. Training your dogs for the kennel is meant to protect them. We’ve always used den provisioning with ours (see Gunner Kennels’ suggested crate training schedule here), and they treat their crate as a safe haven – tails are wagging every time they walk in.
But it did get our wheels turning: why do dogs innately enjoy their kennel, at what point does your dog spend too much time in his crate, and how exactly are you protecting him when using a kennel? See below for our thoughts.
As direct descendents of wolves, dogs are den animals and are naturally most comforted in a nest-like area. They crave a secure space, and will probably make a makeshift den of their own if you don’t provide it for them. One sign that dogs are den animals is the way they’re genetically programmed to circle before lying down. That’s an inherited trait from wolves, who would use the mechanism to trample the surrounded area to make way for their sleeping nest.
Often, we see owners giving their dog more space than needed because he/she feels guilty – but honestly, dogs are hardwired to prefer a confined space that isn’t too large, and that they can make their own. They don’t need the extra area unless you’re abusing the crate time.
As you know, we specifically designed our crate for travel. The intended use for Gunner Kennels is to give you – and your dog – peace of mind from point A to point B.
However, if you are kenneling at home, note that crates should ideally be used for brief periods of time. It can be a convenient tool when you need to run a few errands, or for specific situations like anxiety when a storm hits, but a crate isn’t meant to spend endless hours in it. Its primary function, when at home, is to serve as a den. It becomes more of a punishment for your dog than a sanctuary when you abandon them for long stretches of time in it.
Kenneling at home can safeguard your dog from outside dangers that include other pets; eating and digesting a foreign object or liquid; escaping your house; and destroying your personal items, among other things. It’s a measure meant to protect him, and you’re doing it all wrong if you use a kennel to punish him – that’s rule number one in crate training.
According to recent studies, 85% of us travel with our dog. But as more research happens, it’s clear that there’s a big risk factor associated and that pets need to restrained just like people. We’ve documented some of those eye-opening stats here. Fortunately, our G1™ Intermediate was the Top Performer in the Center For Pet Safety’s 2015 Crash Study, sponsored by Subaru – so you know that when you travel with your pet in a Gunner Kennel, he’s completely protected. See those crash studies here.
Plus: if you’ve properly trained your dog to think of his crate as his own personal space, then he’ll feel at home wherever his kennel is. This is especially important when traveling – whether you’re headed to the beach, loading up for a hunting trip or visiting the inlaws, he’ll feel at ease as soon as he loads up.
These are some quick highlights of why we think crate training is good for your dog. Do you agree with us? Let us know below, or email us here.
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