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Owning a dog can be a lot of fun. Dogs are lovely companions, highly intelligent animals, and great walking companions. However, owning a dog can also be a lot of responsibility. Our furry best friends must be exercised regularly and require much attention and care, regardless of our other responsibilities.
As a dog owner, you may have found that one of the most challenging parts of owning a dog is leaving them behind to go to work. Not only is this highly stressful for your pet, but it can ruin your home if they have high levels of separation anxiety. Chewed carpets, urine stains on the floor, gnawed table legs, pulled-apart sofa cushions – a nervous dog can do a lot of damage. To get around this, some pet owners have tried crates for their dogs when they’re away for an extended period. Let’s talk about the pros and cons of putting your furry friend in a dog crate when you’re at work.
How to Properly Crate Your Dog
Before we get into the pros and cons, we should first talk about how you should properly crate your furry little friend. While you might have it in your head that “crating your dog” means putting them in a crate for the duration of your shift at work with the crate door locked. However, pet experts and veterinarians will discourage this behavior, which is tantamount to animal abuse.
You can do so practically and humanely if you want to utilize a crate to help curb your dog’s anxieties while you’re away at work. However, it requires you to leave the door open. While that might sound counterintuitive, the benefit of the crate doesn’t come from your ability to lock up your dog inside of it. Sure, that’s all well and good when you need to bring them on an airplane or transport them in some other way, but the real benefit of a crate comes from familiarizing your dog with a safe, enclosed space.
Getting Your Dog Used to the Crate
There’s a well-established method of introducing your furry to a new crate, whether a young puppy or an adult dog. Firstly, you should put an item they like inside of it, like a blanket or shirt with your scent, a beloved toy, or a treat or two. Most dogs are naturally curious and will sniff out the new addition to the home. Since dogs inherently like tight, cozy spaces, they might start sleeping in them immediately. If they seem opposed to it, you might want to sit near it for a spell in intervals to get them to spend more time around it.
Always retain a positive attitude around the crate, and never use it for punishment. You want your dog to think of the crate as a panic room for when they’re stressed, not a punishment. If you are always smiling and playful around it or while putting them inside, it’ll be easier for them to associate it with positivity. This will be much healthier in the long run. You can also start feeding them meals inside the crate – this will further cement their positive opinion of the enclosure.
As they become used to it, you can experiment with locking the crate behind them and having them spend more time inside it. However, you’ll want to space out these occasions over a long period. Eventually, you might be able to crate them overnight. However, you’ll want to keep an ear out for whining, as this might mean they need to eliminate themselves outside. Eventually, you’ll be able to distinguish whether they want to go out or just get out of the crate.
While most pros and cons lists start with the positives, we’d like to state all the negatives of crating dogs right off the bat. The most significant negative of relying on a crate is the anxiety it can bring your dog if they haven’t been appropriately trained. Crate training can be a long and challenging process, and some dogs, particularly rescue dogs with troubled pasts, might not take kindly to being locked up in a box for long periods.
Keep a careful eye on your dog throughout the crate training process to ensure that they react positively to circumstances. Some dog owners may also rely on crates as an alternative to giving their dogs a potty break during the day. Even an adult dog should not be expected to go without a potty break or be forced to go in their dog bed. Crate training should never be used as an alternative to a proper outdoor pee break.
When appropriately conducted, leaving your dog in a crate while at work can ease your stress as a pet owner. It will stop your dog from nervously tearing up your property while you’re away, going to the bathroom inside, and more. It can also give them a guaranteed safe space to retreat when they’re overwhelmed by energetic houseguests or loud noises.
Your dog is used to being in a crate is also useful when you need to travel with your pet, as many buses, trains, and planes require dogs to be inside crates when on the go. A dog that isn’t used to a crate might be very stressed when suddenly placed inside one for long periods. Crate training allows you to be prepared for the eventuality of you traveling with your beloved dog!
Another significant benefit of crate training your dog is that it can be helpful when pet sitting. If you go away and need to have someone watch your dog, letting the sitter have the crate to use can be a godsend to them, especially if your dog suffers from separation anxiety.
Alternatives to Crating Your Dog
There are plenty of reasons why a dog not crated is prone to destroying the house. Not only is a dog who is often left alone more likely to develop separation anxiety, but they are also more likely to act out due to boredom.
Instead of relying on crating to keep your home damage free, consider hiring a dog walker or enrolling your furry friend in doggy daycare to ensure they are happy and well taken care of during the day. While it’s true that this is an extra expense that not everyone can afford, dogs should not be left alone for several hours during the day, crate trained or not.
By hiring a dog walker or dropping your pup off at doggy daycare, you can ensure that they are receiving mental stimulation and not feeling lonely during the day – plus, your home will stay in one piece!
To Crate or Not to Crate?
There are many more pros than cons regarding whether or not you should introduce crate training to your dog while you go to work. However, if done correctly, you shouldn’t have much to worry about. Just take time to ensure your dog is comfortable with the process, and organize regular pee breaks for them. Best of luck on your crate training journey!
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