House Training

The “Con” Side of Crate Training

There are many valid reasons for using a dog crate when training a puppy or adult dog, but when used incorrectly the cons of crate training reveal that there are some dog owners should not use this training method. Let’s take a look at some of these negative reasons and then you can decide for yourself if crate training is a technique you are interested in trying.

Cons of crate training

Perhaps the biggest reason many people, dog owners and non-dog owners  alike, have against crate training is some people will leave their dog inside the crate for long periods of time. It needs to be understood by these individuals a dog crate is NOT meant, nor is it designed for housing a dog for several days as a substitute for placing the dog in a kennel. This is a big con of crate training some canine owners fail to understand. The longest you should leave a dog you are crate training in the confines of the crate is eight hours while four is the norm most professional dog trainers recommend.

The things that can manifest as a result of lengthy stays in a crate are your dog will learn to associate going into the crate with being left alone for amounts of time they do not like. The dog will begin to fear the crate and never enter it unless forced to do so. These cons of crate training again go back to dog owners who are not properly schooled in how to correctly use a training crate. The dog will begin to struggle in the crate doing their best to find a way to get out. Chewing and clawing to get out often results in the dog injuring itself, and tearing up the crate. These frantic struggles by your dog will lead to separation anxieties, changes in the dogs demeanor, he or she most likely will become aggressive towards other animals and even family members, and in general turn an otherwise happy, social able, easy going dog into a far less desirable pet.

A couple of other cautions from the HumaneSociety.org website:

  • Puppies under six months of age shouldn’t stay in a crate for more than three or four hours at a time. They can’t control their bladders and bowels for that long.  The same goes for adult dogs that are being housetrained.  Physically, they can hold it, but they don’t know they’re supposed to.
  • Crate your dog only until you can trust him not to destroy the house. After that, it should be a place he goes voluntarily.

Other crate training issues include the physical condition of the puppy or dog. If your dog has medical conditions or is ill resulting in their lack of controlling their defecation and urinating, they are going to soil the crate. This then leads to additional medical issues arising if the dog has to live in these conditions for any length of time. Yes, there are cons of crate training all dog owners who use this method must understand. Knowing how to correctly use a dog crate for training is vital if you decide to train this way.

Crate training has made our life much easier, both for housetraining our dogs and life ever since. They go to their crates occasionally during the day for whatever reasons, and also know to go there for the night when we simply say “bedtime”.

How do you feel about crate training a dog? Please leave comments and advice below.

35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. CJ

    May 5, 2017 at 3:12 am

    I can't believe some of these ridiculous comments. The author of the article has it right. Crate training can be helpful IF done properly. In fact, crate training is a matter of SAFETY. It is irresponsible not to train a dog to be comfortable with a crate. How do you ever safely travel in the car with your dog if they are not crate trained! A hard shell crate is the best chance your dog has of surviving a car accident! I frequently travel cross country with my little pommy but he is allowed to get our frequently for breaks and play time. He loves to travel with us. I agree that dogs should not be their crate all of the time. The humane society has pretty good guidelines. But these comments about "I never crate trained by dog" blah blah blah are silly and frankly unsafe.

  2. RUTH NELSON

    Apr 8, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    I agree with Shannon the personal time spent with a puppy is time well spent. To me crate training slows down the potty training and it is like a prison to the animal and I think an insult. My puppies are all potty trained at 8 weeks and have never seen a crate. It is just a convenience to people not willing to spend their time with a puppy.

  3. Beth75

    Jan 8, 2017 at 3:30 am

    I have a friend who crates her dogs forhours and hours on end alot of times.They whine to be let out but only get let out twice daily.One has severe skin problems and I believe it’s made worse by being crated for so long.I feel so bad for them and would never do that to my dog.

  4. Shannon

    Jan 4, 2017 at 12:32 am

    We got our first puppy in July. He’s an English Mastiff and 7 months old now. We do NOT use a crate. Everyone thought I was an idiot for not crate training, but no one that I knew through my childhood crated a dog, and all those dogs were great. Yes…when he was too little to go upstairs, I slept on the couch and woke up every 3 hrs or so to take him out to potty. When my husband and I both had to work at the same time, I made arrangements to have my parents or brother come over to “puppy sit”. I only work part time, so this was only a couple times a week. He also has tons of toys and things to chew. Was I exhausted? Yes. Did I spend ALL of my time training and playing with my puppy? Yes. But it was soooooo worth it. I have a happy, sweet, affectionate dog who was house trained in a month and has never destroyed one thing!

  5. Jamie

    Oct 31, 2016 at 12:24 am

    My American Eskimo was crate trained when I adopted her . She still poops in the house if left alone by herself outside the crate & the purpose of the crate is to train her to only poop outside . She only whines & barks in the crate when I leave for work . But she will not poop or pee in the crate . Dogs won’t do that in their own space if properly trained . I put blankets chew toys & balls in the crate to keep her company & leVe the tv on so she won’t feel alone . Crates are fine for dogs as long as you don’t leave them in for long periods of time & you provide them with entertainment. Most dogs will sleep anyways until their owner returns. Give them love & attention when you are with them & crates are fine .

  6. peter dykstra

    May 7, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    I am passionately against crating dogs-it is totally unnatural and cruel.In fact dogs should not live inside a house at all-only visit and socialise Houses for people and kennels for dogs.Yes dogs obey and use crates and live inside full time-but does anyone really think they like it? People in general are up in arms about caged egg layers and tethered pigs etc.,yet they force solitary confinement on their dog for many hours each night.The former species don’t know any difference-unlike dogs.Unlike us humans!Crating dogs in particular should be outlawed-it is cruel!It is unnatural!
    There are medical implications resulting from using these practices-READ MY LIPS. Vit D deficiency due to restricted natural sunlight. Virtual depletion of the little essential Vit C that dogs produce naturally due to stress.These 2 vitamins are essential for the metabolising of Calcium-amongst other things.Like Vit C being essential for production of collegen for just one!
    Then of course we have the quality of air indoors V outdoors.Oxygen!
    Don’t believe all this? I am not a book learned professor or vet,simply a guy that has learnt and studied with involvement of various species commercially for over 50 years.The BIG school!!
    You can learn some of this thanks to the internet,but be wary of book taught or arm-chair experts.

  7. Pingback: Dear Labby: Is Crate Training Cruel? | SlimDoggy

  8. Miss Cellany

    Nov 27, 2015 at 9:27 am

    The people saying “my dog loves her crate!” your dog does not know anything different so of course it “loves” it’s crate. If it was given a whole room to itself when you were out, and later, forced to stay in a crate when you’re out which do you think it would prefer? Which would you prefer if you were the dog?

    I still think it’s better to confine the dog to a single room where there is nothing dangerous for him to knock over / chew. When it’s old enough, has been housetrained and has learnt not to chew furniture / wires you can give it the run of the house (or at least those rooms that are safest). If your house isn’t puppy proofed you shouldn’t have a puppy in the first place – if it can get into the cupboards and get at chemicals you need to fix that before getting a puppy (or having a kid for that matter).

    If you have an adult dog that you still need to crate when you are out (and it’s not a recent rescue or similar) then you have failed to provide the proper training and socialization to your dog – shame on you.

  9. Jeannine Mallory

    Sep 17, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    I’ve had dogs since I was a child. Never used a crate. Now, it’s like you’re a bad pet parent if you don’t provide a “den” for your dog. Apparently it was a miracle that I’ve had more than a dozen dogs live full lives without being crated. I wonder what people did before this crate “mandate.” I’m getting a puppy tomorrow and don’t plan to crate her. Yes, I’ll lose sleep. But to me, that’s just part of having a puppy. My parents, their parents, and others didn’t use crates. Why do I feel guilty now because I don’t plan to use one?

  10. Jake

    Aug 8, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Incredibly valuable post — doggypads.com is sharing it on all our social networks. I think the biggest takeaways are that it depends on the dog (some can handle it, some can’t), the age and the temperment. Overall, though, I think there are better ways to house train your dog.

  11. AnimeRelief

    Jul 31, 2014 at 4:58 am

    Hey,

    So I recently got a new German Shepherd puppy, and it’s around 12 weeks old now. I want to get a second puppy to grow up with him, and found a breeder selling one I want, however, it was crate trained. How do I go about un-crate training her? Since my first pup isn’t crate trained at all, and is a perfect, beautiful puppy.

    Thanks,

  12. Ivonna

    Feb 27, 2014 at 7:25 am

    I’d never crate train my dog! I think it’s just inhumanely. It’s much harder to train your dog and spend more time with him o her, but it’s worth it. There’s also a thing called Petcube, a gadget to watch a pet and play with a pet from the smartphone. It isn’t shipping yet, but I’ll get one as soon as it’s out. The key is to entertain your dog. not to imprison it.

  13. Kristin

    Sep 1, 2013 at 9:29 am

    We had initially begun crate training with my American Eskimo puppy Dexter when we got him at 10 weeks old. He’s now 21 weeks and still hasn’t taken to it. We tried everything to make his crate a happy place to be – soft pillows, its twice the size it needs to be for his final size, a little water, a kong filled with wet food (he hates peanut butter) and clothes that smell like us. We only crated him at night (letting him out once during the course of it so he could go potty).

    The intent was that he would get used to sleeping in his crate so we could take him along when we stay overnight with friends and family and he would have a safe “home base” where he would not be able to get into trouble in someone elses house. He now goes into his crate willingly during the day and eats there, but will not go in and night on his own. When we do get him in at night he “screeches” for at least an hour before falling asleep and won’t touch any kongs, toys or food that we put in with him.

    The other night I fell asleep on the couch and he fell asleep in the kitchen (he is confined there with his crate during the day and we move the crate to our bedroom at night). When I woke up I took him out and was too tired to move his crate by myself to the bedroom. I grabbed some toys, a bone, a kong and a blanket for him and he slept in my room free with the door closed. He licked my hand a few times and didn’t make a peep all night. I got better sleep, he got better sleep and he seemed much happier the day after. I’ve been letting him free at night for a few nights now with no problems. I think we’re done with crate training. I might try to get him to be ok with being in there at random intervals (building up slowly) for future travel purposes, but he’s proven himself pretty trustworthy.

    In the end I think I just need to trust that in some cases he knows what is good for him. 🙂

  14. cathy

    Apr 9, 2013 at 5:13 am

    My dogs have always been crate trained. I start them out as young puppies for a few hours, and increase the time only as they get older and it is needed. Within a month, I can take the “door” off the crate and they go into it as free will, often as a “safe, secure”, place to lay out of foot traffic. I travel across country with my (large breed) dogs, and many places will let me room with a crated dog, even if they regularly do not allow pets. (I do not tell them there is no door.)Flying with my dogs requires the door, but the dogs seem to not mind when the doors are in place. The crates are not an place of fear.
    A crate should never be a “prison” or “bad” place. I never violate their “sanctuary” by entering the crate space, not even with my hands. My children, visitors, and others are not allowed to enter the crate space either.
    There are uses for crate training, but your “cons” stated are too common, and I understand that there is proper crate training, and too much improper uses of crates. Good article.

    • Barbara

      Jun 15, 2014 at 11:23 am

      I left the door open on my lab puppy’s crate (a wire cage that a full grown dog could stand in) whenever she was out of the crate. She would often return to the crate on her own. There was a sheet covering the top and sides, but not the door end of the crate, so it was like a shelter or dog house. I put the crate away when she was in-house trained. Years later, when she was about 8 years old, I was organizing the room where the crate was stored, and just for the fun of it, reassembled the crate. My dog immediately went inside and laid down. Wish I had room to leave it setup for her to use at will.

  15. Michele

    Apr 3, 2013 at 11:09 am

    It depends on individual situations, I believe. I’ve never crate trained and I never will. I just don’t like the idea of it. It seems like a ‘doggie jail’ to me and very sad. However, I won’t knock someone who uses the crate, unless it does harm to the animal. What works for one does not mean it will work for everyone. It’s a personal choice.

  16. Pjoenixxx

    Feb 8, 2013 at 9:10 am

    I used a crate to train our coon hound. I am a city girl who moved to the country with my husband. We got Gin because she is a blue tick coon hound who was born red (A very undesireable trait to blue tick breeders)and her owners were going to “get rid of her” one way or another so other breeders wouldn’t know his breeding female threw a red dog. My husband warned me that coon hounds could be VERY high energy and destructive, and that “coon hounds live outside”. I disagreed. Whats the point of owning a dog if you are going to leave it outside? He was right about one thing…she is VERY, VERY high energy and desteructive! We had to keep her in “bed” (her crate) at night for her own safety. She would destry and eat ANYTHING! We once had to take her to the vet because she are a disposable lighter! As she got older she learned that when we told her to “go to bed” that meant to go to the crate. We put plenty of blankets and toys in there and She was only put in there at night or when we went out. (I don’t work so she wasn’t in there all day). As she got older she would go to her “bed” on her own when she was tired or had treats. She loved her crate.

  17. Shay

    Feb 4, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    I crated trained my dog when he first joined our family. Then when housebroken the door was left open @ all times and he would still sleep in there with the door wide open. Now he doesn’t use it at all. I think crate training is fine as long as you are a responsible owner.

  18. dawn

    Dec 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    I really appreciate the advice. I’m gonna try it slow.. I had been, but maybe I need to take a step back. Her crate is always open for her whenever. But she doesn’t want to go in it anymore, which is fine with me.. I’d rather be able to leave her out of it while I’m gone. Thank you very much.

  19. Lynn

    Dec 13, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    People are crating dogs and keeping them like birds in a cage. Crating needs to be discouraged. A secure fence, a doggy door to go in or out and protection from the weather should be promoted instead of crating. If a fence isn’t possible and crating is the only option then possessing a dog isn’t a good idea. Just had another crating case today where 2 german shepherds are kept in a crate, together, for 12 hours at a time. The crate isn’t even tall enough for the older dog to stand up properly. Stop promoting crating like it’s normal, it isn’t. Too many cruel, neglectful people are using crating because a percentage of animal advocates say it’s ok, making it socially acceptable. As a result too many dogs are living a long, slow, crated torture.

  20. Jeanne

    Dec 13, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Dawn, just the way you crate trained your dog is a way to “uncrate train” her. Leave the house and return 15 minutes later. Try this a few times a day for the first couple of days. Then work up to 30 minutes, then 45 minutes, etc. Eventually she will realize that you are not abandoning her. It also involves some “tough love” on your part. I understand that it’s hard to hear her cry but in the long run you’ll be glad you got through it. Good luck!

  21. Jeanne

    Dec 13, 2012 at 11:48 am

    My dog hated his crate from the beginning but I didn’t give up on crate training him. He doesn’t go in it during the day on his own but he will go in it for sleeping and during the day when I have to run errands. When I run errands I make it pleasant for him by putting a treat in his kong toy and he looks forward to it every time. He never is in his crate any longer than 6 hours at a time though. We can’t let him have a run of the house when we’re gone because he climbs on furniture and eats whatever he can find.

  22. dawn

    Dec 13, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I actually have a question. I am trying to “uncrate train” my dog.. she is old enough where I feel I can trust her out of the crate, but when I leave her alone for a short period of time outside of the crate, she panics. She runs all over the house howling & crying & then I feel horrible. Should I just keep doing it & let her figure it out on her own? Ps I videotaped her when I wasn’t home to see how shed react outside her crate – that’s how I.know this.

    • Lisa

      Dec 13, 2012 at 11:59 am

      Your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, and you’re actually doing a disservice to her by letting her have free reign of the house. You would be better off leaving her crated when you’re out if this is how she is reacting. The crate gives the dog a sense of security and many dogs who can easily be trusted with free reign of the house because they aren’t destructive chewers, are much more balanced and healthy if they are crated. Perhaps start by letting her just have one room in the house – leave the crate in there and don’t close the door of the crate so she can have access to it. If you continue to allow her to be anxious in your house, you may see her start to damage things. Unlike other comments made previously, crate training is not cruel. Dogs in the wild create dens for themselves to feel safe and secure. As long as a crate is not used improperly, it is an effective tool and often a comfort for a dog. If crate training has been successful for you, then I would encourage you to continue using it. You want your dog to be quiet and calm when you’re out, and if it means having her in a crate then that may be the best thing for her. Just make sure when you’re home you are playing with her and keeping her active! She wants to do those things with you anyway, as she knows her job is to make you happy. Without you, she isn’t doing the job she was born to, so keeping her in an axious state is just causing her more harm.

      • Kflower8

        Jan 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm

        I think its great that you’re ready to get your dog out of a locked crate. 🙂 I agree with the use of a crate, if the door is always left open; otherwise, I feel it is cruel and unnatural. (Basically, prison- for the owner’s ‘convenience’.) Neither eparation anxiety nor housetraining is not solved by leaving a dog in a crate. A great little booklet for Separation Anxiety is by Dr.Patricia McConnell (she’s a well known animal behavioralist, author, and teaches via positive reinforcement)- the title is “I’ll Be Home Soon”. Can get it on Amazon, or on her website: http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/store/I-ll-Be-Home-Soon.html
        . My Husky had vicious separation anxiety issues when I adopted her (at almost 2 yrs old). Through a slow but steady process of leaving my dog alone for short amounts of time (and then returning)- starting with even a minute or 2…gradually increasing to 45 minutes/1 hr… [During the training, never be gone from your dog long enough for her to get anxious. Come back before that happens, so she’ll know that she is safe whenever you’re gone, and that you’ll return.] During the training process.. if I had to be gone all day, I would bring my dog to doggy day care, where she got to hang out and play with other dogs. She LOVED that. Dogs are pack animals, and naturally do not want to be alone for any length of time.

        Anyway, ALL of Dr. McConnell’s books and booklets are incredible. She has a book called “Puppy Primer”, as well as ones on Dog/Dog Aggression, Housetraining, and a variety of other issues that may come up. The good part about her books are that they humane-based and intelligent…everyone’s happy. 😉

        • Miss Cellany

          Nov 27, 2015 at 9:38 am

          Exactly. When I adopted an adult border collie I did the same slow acclimatization to him being alone in the flat. First a minute, then 2, then 5, then 10, then 20 etc over a period of a week or two until I got him used to being alone for 6 hours or more while I was at work. I never used a crate – he would have hated it and it would have made his anxiety WORSE not better. He felt secure sitting on my bed or my sofa where it smelled of me and he could feel close to me while I was gone. Plus it was a nice and warm, comfy place to sleep while he waited for me to come home (I did cover the sofa and bed so he wouldn’t get hairs all over them and he soon learnt to only go on the bed or sofa when it was covered). He never chewed anything (except for his own toys and chews) and never marked inside the house (despite being intact). I felt he was thanking me for trusting him with the run of the house by being totally trustworthy in the house. He was the best dog 🙂

    • cathy

      Apr 9, 2013 at 5:31 am

      Try leaving the door off the crate and see if she will use it when you are home. If it is necessary, put the door back on when you leave, BUT take it off soon after you are home (but not immediately). If she does not use the crate when you are home, or tears the crate up when the door is on, seek PROFESSIONAL help.

  23. Jeri

    Dec 13, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I have a husky/lab mix who was crate trained, properly. She used to get car sick whenever we took her anywhere in the car. We put her in her crate in the car and no more car sickness. This year we drove all the way out to the west coast with her and she would spend 3 o4 hours in her crate at a time
    in the car and she was happy to be with us. We stopped at a lot of dog parks along the way.

    The crate is her security. She is very sensitive to gun shots and fireworks and whenever she hears them she heads for her crate. Other than that she never goes in it anymore but sleeps at the foot of our bed.She has the run of the house when we are out and has never done any damage.

  24. Sick of ignorant people

    Dec 13, 2012 at 4:48 am

    Repulsive ! Never have, never will crate train. Every experience I have had with people who ‘crate train’, including family members, have abused the situarion. THe longer the puppy/dog stays cooped up the more restless he is when released so back in the crate they go. If you don’t have time to spend with your dog and /or train the dog,DON”T GET A DOG.

    • Maria R.

      Dec 13, 2012 at 10:36 am

      I disagree. I have two toy poodles and used the crate train method to house train them. They loved it. After a short time, they used, and still do, their crates as their little rooms to chill in. Yes, they spend every day out and about the house. But they do enjoy resting in their crates from time to time. Saying ALL dogs dislike or ALL owners abuse the crate training process, is a very general statement.

      • Karen

        Dec 13, 2012 at 10:47 am

        I’d like to hear more about using the crate to help housebreak. I have two young (but not puppy)Papillons, and having a very hard time with house breaking. What was your method?

        • Susan

          Dec 13, 2012 at 6:31 pm

          Karen ~ Me too. I also have 2 young Papillons and cannot seem to get them house broken. We are very frustrated:(

        • cathy

          Apr 9, 2013 at 5:25 am

          A HSUS site should tell of the proper ways to housebreak a dog with a crate. The biggest problems I know of are a crate that is the wrong size for the dog, and keeping them in it too long.

          Try to notice when your dogs eat and how much past that time they need to “go”. Then you will know when to take them out. (This will not work well with an bowl of food constantly available.) It is mandatory that you take them out as soon as you get out of bed, and right before you go to bed.
          Puppy Pads also work well for most dogs. If you confine the dog(s) to a specific area, make sure you spend “quality” time with them in that room. Some breeds seem to be more difficult yo housebreak. I, fortunately, have a pet door, and mine are placed outside 90 minutes after they eat and must “find/remember” their way back in through the door. Sometimes they will stay uot for over an hour, sunbathing and playing. Other times i have to prompt(slight push, without them fighting back) them to go back in through the door if the weather is bad.

    • Beth

      Dec 13, 2012 at 10:50 am

      I too know someone who uses crates ALL the time for her dog. Even when she’s home, just so he won’t bother people or some ridiculous reason like that. It makes me sad and mad, she should not own a dog for sure because she is not at all willing to train him and even so he is old enough now that he has learned (somehow) not to destroy the house while he is out.

    • KK

      Apr 3, 2013 at 9:44 pm

      I’m with you, Sick of ignorant people…Absolutely agree that ‘crate-training’ is simply a euphemism for ‘tossing in a cage’. A practice created by humans who can’t be bothered to actually care for another living being. (Much easier to toss him/her in a crate.) Despicable and shameful practice.

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