Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pampered Pooch... Or Not? Part I

"My dog is so spoiled."
"I treat him better than my own son!"
"I can't get away from Ms. Kitty without giving her at least five treats!"

No doubt, we love our dogs and cats... but do we always do what's best for them?
Is a dog spoiled when he is locked up in a crate all day while the owner is at work?
Is a cat really being treated better than a human child when he is shut out of the room at times when he doesn't make you happy-- and, when he does something "wrong", gets hit by a jet of icy water?
And I'm not going to pretend that Ms. Kitty is a happy cat if she eats so many treats she gets a whole host of obesity-related diseases.

In Part I this week, I'll discuss those infamous dog crates. Here is a video of  poor dog named Kiwi, who managed to escape her crate when her "family" was out. In the video, they say that "Crate training is recommended by the humane society and only done for the first few weeks you have your pup. Kiwi now has free access to the entire house but still sleeps in her crate because she chooses to."
To be blunt, I don't care that crate training is recommended by any humane society. You shouldn't keep an animal locked up in a cage, all alone like that! Animals can be claustrophobic, get lonely, feel depressed, etc. The real reason why people lock up their dogs in crates is for convenience. But it certainly isn't convenient for the dog to lock her up for 8 hours a day without anything to do, bathroom breaks, or a chance to take more than a couple steps. Crating can also lead to pet obesity, which I'll talk about more in Part III.
If you adopt a dog, you most certainly should have someone home for a large portion of the day so that she doesn't get lonely. Besides, Kiwi could have gotten seriously hurt while trying to escape. If giving your dog free range of the house at first is overwhelming, then keep her in a separate room for a while.

Courtesy of
Can crating ever be okay? It really depends on why you are doing it.  Never keep your dog in a crate on a regular basis, like while you are at work, or for a prolonged period of time, like while you are on vacation. Only keep your dog in a crate if he is too sick to walk around without dying. And if your dog tears apart the house if he is allowed out of his crate, you really need to reconsider your keeping this animal indoors. You can always give him a fenced-in area outside with a warm doghouse if he is too wild to have free run of the human-house.

The best things you can do to help change the crate problem are the following:
  1. Don't do it yourself! Obvious, I know. But far too many people engage in this cruel practice!
  2. Spread the word! Link to the websites listed below on your blog, website, and social networking pages.
  3. Know anyone who crates their dog? Tell them that you think it's a cruel practice. Don't give them the impression that you're just some crazy animal-rights person, though (a lot of people feel that way about us)-- instead, explain why you are opposed to crates. Send them a quick follow-up e-mail with these links:
    1. "Alternatives to crate training":
    2. "Crate training is cruel":
    3. "Pampered Pooch... Or Not? Part I":
Have fun teaching your puppy... crate-free!

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