Episode Seven, To Crate or Not to Crate?

Episode Seven, To Crate or Not to Crate?

There has been some discussion in the dog training world lately about the use, or over use of crates. To me, and I think Pono agrees, dogs should learn to be comfortable in a crate because there are times when they have to be crated. For most cases that would be the groomers or the vet. But there could also be emergencies where actual life or death is on the line and time is crucial.

Several years ago there was a tsunami warning where we live and we were ordered to evacuate. Unfortunately, I was stuck at home with no vehicle. My husband had our truck at work and he worked at a place where he was not allowed to have his phone with him. 

At first there was a notice on my phone about there had been an earth quake in the Pacific Ocean that triggered the tsunami. Then another with an approximate time line and then a more pinpoint of where the waves were going to hit. The TV news started talking about evacuations. Voluntary evacuations. I could see and hear my neighbors leaving and sadly many left their dogs behind. Their plaintive cries in the form of barking broke my heart. I knew I would not be able to do anything for those dogs but I looked at Moku, (Yes the famous Mighty Moku Thunderpaws) and promised him I would not leave him not matter what.

Soon I could hear helicopters over head with loud speakers telling us the evacuation was mandatory. I looked at Moku, 85 pounds of the best dog in the world, and wondered if I could somehow get him him on the roof.

I had never crate trained him, I didn't even own a crate. It was mean to crate a dog, right? But what was I going do if the national guard or who ever came to my house to save us but my protective boy wouldn't let them near us? Then what? Try to get him to climb that ladder to the roof? (a another thing I had not trained him for)

And they were closing the only road between my husbands work and our house. I was have a very hard time keeping the panic inside me from exploding.

But then my husband made it home before they closed the road! YAY! But we still couldn't take our un crated dog to an evacuation center. So now what?

We loaded up our truck with emergency supplies and Moku and headed for the nearest hill we could get to. That road was lined with other folks in there vehicles, Many with their dogs, I am guessing they also did not have a crates for their dogs.

We were so very lucky, the tsunami waves were very small and after a few hours we were allowed to return home.  We were lucky, that time, but what about next time? What if it's a fast moving fire? 

All through to ordeal Moku was wonderful but I am sure he could feel the stress. But I am so grateful I did not have to put him under any additional angst of being put in a crate that he was not accustomed to. Also since he was a rescue (a stray) he may have had some bad experiences in crates.

So my mind was changed about crating. It is a skill than can actually save your dogs life and make things much easier in an emergency. And make crating while at the vet or groomer not big deal.

BUT if you want your dog to be comfortable in a crate, it cannot be used as a punishment. Ever. You want it to be a happy place or at least a MEH place. If you need help to get your dog to feel this way about their crate check out Susan Garrett's Crate games program.

How long should a dog be kept in a crate? That depends, is the dog recovering from an injury or surgery? Then perhaps most of the day, are you going to work and going to be gone for 8 to 10 hours? Then NO! and ex pen is a better choice or carefully selected room is a better choice.

So to me it all boils down to this make sure your dog is crate trained, not crate kept.


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