Crates - interesting info Discussions

Discussion in 'General Dog Chat' started by Toedtoes, Oct 5, 2021.

  1. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    Crates - interesting info

    I admit, I am not fond of crates. I find that too many people use a crate as a replacement to training and socializing. With that, I find they are good as a tool for specific purposes, or left open and used simply as a dog bed.

    While looking for something else, I found the following information.

    In the U.S. , the USDA Code of Federal Regulations, Title 9, Chapter 1, Subchapter A—Animal Welfare– Part 3, Standards, dictates the amount of space needed for a “primary enclosure” for a canine as:

    measurement of animal nose to tail, plus 6 inches, X measurement of animal nose to tail, plus 6 inches = the required floor space in square inches. To determine the required floor space in square feet, divide the square inches by 144.

    This is the minimum size for an enclosure for a dog in a laboratory.


    So, I did a quick calculation for Tornado-dog:

    48 inches long tip of nose to tail

    48 + 6 = 54
    54*54 = 2916 sq inches

    2916 ÷ 144 = 20.25 sq feet

    So, if Tornado-dog was in a research facility being experimented on, he would be required by law to be in a 20.25 sq foot enclosure AT MINIMUM for the bulk of his time.

    Then I looked at the common crate sizing recommendations and calculated those measurements. According to the instructions, this measurement is the recommended length for a crate for the dog.

    Tornado-dog's measurements are:
    Tip of nose to tip of tail = 48 inches
    Tip of nose to base of tail = 34 inches
    Tip of nose to base of tail plus 1/2 length of front leg from armpit to toe = 42.5

    So, then I looked at the common crate square footage of crates within those recommended lengths:

    36 inch crate (the smallest recommended for Tornado-dog according to his length measurement):
    36 * 23 = 828 sq inches ÷ 144 = 5.75 sq feet

    42 inch crate (the size recommended based on his weight of 50lbs):
    42 * 28 = 1176 sq inches ÷ 144 = 8.167 sq feet

    48 inch crate (the size meeting the largest "how to size a crate" calculation):
    48 * 30 = 1440 sq inches ÷ 144 = 10.00 sq feet

    54 inch crate (the size based on the USDA measurement for the dog's length):
    54 * 37 = 1998 sq inches ÷ 144 = 13.875 sq feet

    Now here is the kicker.

    The 36 inch crate is only 28.4% of the USDA requirement.
    The 42 inch crate is only 40.3% of the USDA requirement.
    The 48 inch crate is only 49.5% of the USDA requirement.
    And the 54 inch crate is only 68.5% of the USDA requirement.

    In addition, the 48 inch crate is recommended for breeds like GSD, akita and newfie and the 54 inch crate is recommended for breeds like great dane, st bernard, and mastiff. The 42 inch crate is recommended for a border collie which is the breed I would consider as equal to Tornado-dog's size.

    So, for folks considering crate training and planning on crating their dog throughout the night and whenever they are away (not to mention potentially feeding the dog in the crate, separating the dog from visitors or kids or human mealtimes by using the crate), really think about it.

    Consider alternatives to crating your dog. Using baby gates to limit the dog's access to people food or visitors accomplishes the same thing but allows your dog to have free and full movement. Confining a puppy to a single room with a hard floor surface during the night with a comfy dog bed will prevent it from peeing or pooping behind the living room couch or chewing the tv cords just as well as a crate.

    If you do choose to use a crate for training, use it with the intention of eliminating it as a confinement as much as possible. So if you choose to crate the puppy/dog in your bedroom to teach it to sleep there instead of on your bed, once he has become used to sleeping there, remove the door and continue training him to stay there throughout the night. (I actually taught my prior dogs to remain on my bed throughout the night - only when they were sick or were older with incontinence did they get off the bed during the night, and that movement woke me up to the problem).

    And if you choose to crate your dog for multiple reasons (nighttime, feeding, visitors, etc), make a daily log and actually identify how much time the dog spends IN the crate.

    Consider this scenario:

    I only crate him without breaks during the night. I work 8 hours and am 15 minutes from the job. During the day when I'm at work, he gets three potty and exercise breaks. When I get home I take him out and he only gets crated during my dinnertime.

    Now do the math:

    I take him out to potty at 6 am, I put him in his crate at 6:35 am while I shower and dress, I take him back out to potty at 7:20 am and put him back in the crate at 7:45 am when I leave for work. At 10:00, the neighbor takes him outside for a 30 minute potty break, at 10:30 am he is placed back in the crate. At noon, I come home from work and let him out to potty and play. At 12:50 pm, I put in back in the crate and go back to work. At 2:30, the neighbor returnes and takes him out to potty. At 2:45 pm, he is put back in the crate. At 5:20, I return home and take him out to potty and play and do some training. At 7:00, I put him in the crate while I fix and eat dinner. At 8:00 pm, I take him out and he potties and plays and we relax on the couch. At 10:30 pm, I put him in the crate for the night.

    That actually ends up to 17.25 hours of actual crate time per a 24 hour day. In a cage deemed too small for a dog used for laboratory experiments.
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  3. Chris

    Chris Member

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    Malka and CaroleC like this.
    I'm sure there are many, like me, that used a crate for a puppy throughout the night only until they were reliably clean. Of course, some will abuse them, but some will abuse anything
  4. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    Helidale likes this.
    That's what my post will helpfully help discourage. Maybe folks who are told to "crate your dog" will consider the actual time spent doing so and reconsider some of it.

    On another forum, there is a poster who recommends crating every dog at night, at canine mealtimes, at human mealtimes, when someone comes over, whenever the owner is away or "can't put in the time to work with the dog", as well as always keeping the family dogs apart so they don't "bond with each other instead of you" (meaning every dog is crated unless it is actively working with the owner). Most folks aren't that extreme, but will recommend crating as the first choice for any issue rather than actually providing training help.

    Websites that promote crating never provide the downsides to it. They push the (false) argument that dogs are den animals and then tell you how to make the den (crate) not a scary place for the dog which rather proves the point that dogs are NOT den animals as if they were they would naturally seek the safety of the den (crate).

    I read one post (elsewhere) where someone trying to potty train their 4 month old puppy was instead taught how to crate train the puppy. In the time it would take to crate train, they could have had the puppy potty trained - thereby not only eliminating (no pun intended) the need for a crate, but actually getting a faster end result.

    I really like this forum, because everyone puts training above removal (crating) for behavioral issues. I'm just hoping that newcomers looking for advice will see this thread and question the overwhelming idea that crating solves all problems.
  5. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    Well, it seems to be helping. On the other forum, I mentioned the law regarding housing for laboratory dogs and the poster who always recommends crating actually stepped back and recommended crating only if "absolutely necessary". They also clarified that they use actual kennels rather than crates for their dogs.

    I admit this has become a bit of a crusade for me. I want the casual "crate your dog" recommendations to be replaced with actual training tips - if it includes crating, that's OK. But it needs to include actual advice on how to change the dog's behavior. And I want to see "crating for four hours without a break is too long" to be replaced with actual time frames (eg, one hour long break for every two hours in the crate and no more than 8 hours total per day of crating).
  6. CaroleC

    CaroleC Member

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    I find a crate useful in housetraining, but the crate remains open during the day. I set it up like a den, covering the top and three sides, and furnishing the interior with padded rugs, a Teddy, and a couple of chewable toys.
    During the day I leave the crate open and the puppy will usually choose that place to nap, in preference to the open beds - unless it is very warm. They don't consider anything unnatural about being in a crate - which is fine as they will spend a lot of their time travelling to, or resting in their crate, on their bench, at shows.
    I don't close the crate door when we are at home, except for Merry, who had her door closed at night because of her spay incontinence - but OH always got up and let her out at 3am! My dogs have always loved their crates, but I would hate to see them used as prisons.
  7. Malka

    Malka Member

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    Helidale likes this.
    Tikva has slept in a crate since the day I brought her home on Friday 5 June 2015 and today, Wednesday 13 October 2021 I went in to my bedroom to get her up, at half past midday - because she still had not eeped to let me know she wanted to get up!

    She was not still sleeping - she was, as usual, stretched out watching me plonk through to the bedroom [no interior doors, just 3/4 length net curtains across the doorways, so she can see me] to open her crate. Even then she is in no particular hurry to rush out of it

    She always tells me when she wants to go in her crate at night - and she is only ever in it at night. She will ask to go out for a final pee, usually midnight or later, come in and have a cuddle on the couch - then shoot straight into the bedroom, up on my bed, and wait for me to get there for another cuddle before she leaps down for me to open the door of her crate.

    She doesn't stir when I finally go to bed, just opens an eye to check - and doesn't stir when I get up in the morning. And just as I go to bed and get up when I want to, so Tikva goes in her crate and [usually] asks to come out when she wants to.

    Tikva loves her crate. She cannot wait to get in it at night, if I forget to close the door she will call me to go back and close it. And she is never in a hurry to get out of it in the morning.
  8. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    Malka and Helidale like this.
    All three of you have illustrated a proper use of a crate (which doesn't surprise me). Limited required time in it, using it as a dedicated dog bed, and using it as a tool to potty train or restrict movement due to injury or illness.

    And none of you crate the dog during the day at all (except Chris for travel and shows).

    I keep reading the advice "for an adult dog, even four hours in a crate during the day is too long without a break." Seems pretty reasonable. Yet no one ever states how long that break should be. Is a 5 minute potty break sufficient? Or should it be at least an hour?

    Resource guarding is a common problem. Dogs resource guard their toys, food, chews, and even their owners and furnishings. Answer - crate the dog. Yet, when someone says "help, my dog is resource guarding her crate", it is blown off as acceptable behavior. If the dog runs into his crate, we are told to "leave him be" because he needs his space. Yet no one addresses the underlying problem - that the dog is running into the crate because he stole a bottle of medicine or because he doesn't want to go out to potty. So we let him run to his "den" without interference. And he eats that bottle of medication. Or he sneaks off and pees/poops inside. And when we ask what to do about stealing things or pottying inside, we are told "crate him".

    My Cat-dog was crate trained. When she came home in May 2021, she immediately took to hiding under the bed all day and night. At first, I thought it was due to her fear of being attacked by a dog - she was looking for a "safe place". But over time, I realized that it was because she was treating the under-the-bed space as a crate. At that point, I put up a baby gate so she couldn't go into the bedroom during the day (I literally wouldn't see her all day).

    She started going into the bathroom instead. She would spend all day laying on the floor in the bathroom. For 9 months, she hid in her "den" all day and night - days in the bathroom, nights under the bed. If she came out for any reason and I looked at or spoke to her, she scurried right back like she was in trouble. I decided she really needed a brother to help her come out of her shell. In February 2022, Tornado-dog came home.

    She is now spending more time sleeping at the intersection of the hallway and the living room - within two feet of the couch. She frequently comes into the living room to visit with me or play with Tornado-dog. And if I look at or speak to her, she doesn't run back into her "den". My take on this is that she went to her " den" because she had been taught to do so, and as a perfect shepherd, she did as she was told. For her, it wasn't a choice - even though she wasn't shut in, she had been taught that the "den" was the appropriate place for her. But now that she realizes that she has an actual choice in the matter, she is choosing not to go to her "den". And at night, she is getting out from under the bed more quickly and frequently.

    I was trying to convince her the couch was an acceptable bed, but the cat, Looney2, ripped the dust cover underneath and climbed up into the couch and poked Cat-dog through the back of the couch. The couch is now the scariest place. In the motorhome, she will happily climb up on the couch and relax.

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