Crating and Indoor Dogs

I see, constantly, folks berating the use of crates when working with dogs. Let them run free! Crating is cruel! That isn’t how to treat a pet! Well, as someone who has seen what a dog can do, or what can happen to a dog running wild, I completely disagree. That is not to say I think dogs should be crated all the time, but crates, from my experience, have benefits.

When I first adopted Nakama a few years ago I had him crated when I went to work, mainly because he was young and I was working on potty training him. He was only in the crate when I went to work or to the store, but was out the rest of the time, including when we slept. Nakama didn’t have as severe an anxiety issue as Tomodachi, but that crate, for the first two years, was his cave of comfort. He had no issues in the crate and at two years he was able to stay out of the crate permanently, which is good because Tomodachi came around quickly thereafter.

Tomodachi has a much more severe case of anxiety. The crate is her comfort zone and she is happy enough to go into the area even when she doesn’t need to (because I am home). I live with anxiety myself as a side-effect of my ASD, so I know full well why a safe zone is a comfort. I crate her fully in the morning, then come home quickly at lunch to let her out for a bathroom break. During the afternoon I let her roam free, which is a plus because she can be with Nakama. He used to glare at me when I put her up as if to say, ‘You brought me this new toy, but you lock it up!?’ I leave the door to the crate open when I leave so if she wants to go inside then she has that option.

Crating a dog is a personal preference. Some dogs can’t go the day without chewing a hole in the wall. Others like to find their human’s shoes! Tomo and Naka have done that, little imps. I will say this, though, as many folks hate the idea of even keeping dogs inside. The dangers in a man made society are not conducive to letting dogs roam. Two hundred years ago, yeah, a dog roaming free was okay. There weren’t people driving vehicles, shooting off guns, and basically taking over the land. Where I live it is well known that the village pays the cullers twenty dollars a dog to keep the population down. If my dogs were running free I can only imagine the torture they might endure, at the hands of humans, mind you. There are also natural issues to worry about such as feral dogs, wolves, and porcupines. Any of those could get at a domesticated animal and kill it pretty quickly. So, yeah, I am all for indoor dogs, in a crate if necessary.

I am not here to make people change their minds regarding indoor dogs and crates. However, I will point out that what may work for one may not work for others. Many people in this village let their dogs run amok. They get quilled, hit by vehicles (and survive), or shot by people and live to see another day. Personally, if that were my dog then I would consider myself an unfit pet parent because I wasn’t monitoring their activities. I’ve seen the poor dogs with broken legs trying to run around. I’ve seen the dogs with quills in their faces countless times. I’ve seen the dogs who were shot by disgusting people. I don’t want that for my dogs. Nakama and Tomodachi are happy enough and we make it outside for occasional (for the moment due to weather and Tomodachi going through her first heat) walks and playing in the snow. Their happiness and safety come first.

Dogs on the Bed

I have people constantly telling me that dogs are dirty and they don’t belong on the bed or the furniture. Well, good on them, they don’t need to allow their ‘pets’ on the bed. Why did I insist on my pups on the bed? Well, dogs supposedly have an innate desire not to ‘mess’ where they sleep. By having the dogs on my bed from the beginning it kept them from messing on the bed, but also helped me wake up to take them out to for a potty break. Both Nakama and Tomodachi nosed me when they needed to go from the time I brought both of them home. The bed isn’t huge, a full-size, but as neither could get off the bed in the beginning without assistance, it helped them easily night train. I still had to get up multiple times a night with Tomo, Nakama was older when he came to live with me, so he only needed one break a night from the beginning. Now, at four months, Tomodachi can make it through the night most nights, other times she needs one break, but she always wakes me. As for being on the bed or the sofa, they can cuddle with me on these pieces of furniture, and I want to have a bond with them, not treat them as objects. My fur-family, my choice. I chose their names intentionally, companion and friend. To me, they are not pets, they are family.