Is it bad to keep a dog in a cage?

When the idea of cage training first became popular, trainers were hard pressed to convince dog owners it was a good thing, as many protested that it seemed cruel to cage their dog all day. However, abusing cage training time can be very damaging for the puppy.

Cage Theory

Wolves in the wild have a natural instinct to build a den in which they sleep, eat, raise their young, hide from other predators, and feel safe and secure. Modern day domesticated dogs don’t need dens, as they fit very nicely in homes, apartments and just about anywhere else they can live in harmony with people. However, cages offer dogs a place to call their own. A cage offers the dog a place in which the dog may relieve itself from any stress and tiredness. Cage training is a great tool for damage causing puppies, and teaching them manners: such as not eating the couch or those shoes you love. We should however moderate and not overdo cage time as it may be mentally and physically damaging for the puppy. There are limits to how long a dog can stay in the cage before it becomes a prison. Wolves in the wild come and go from their den. The cage is supposed to simulate the den experience, so dogs should be able to come and go as well.

Cage Training

Since dogs will not soil in their den, the cage provides a substitute den where you can put your dog and be fairly confident he won’t soil until you are ready to take him out and allow him to do so appropriately. When using cage training for this purpose, it is important not to leave the dog in the cage too long or you will defeat the purpose. If the dog is kept in the cage for so long that he soils the cage: then this may be the beginning of a very big problem. If the a dog starts soiling in its own place then it might be very hard to teach it to soil outside. There are rules as to how long a dog can stay in a cage. A young puppy, aged 8 to 12 weeks, should be taken outside every half hour and allowed to try to go soil. Little puppies cannot hold their bladder any longer than 30 minutes, so you can’t expect your puppy to do what his body won’t allow. As puppies age, they can stay in the cage a little longer with each passing week. However, even older dogs should never be kept in the cage for more than three to four hours a day.This means, if you work, you should come home mid-day, or pay someone to go in and let the dog out.

Cage Abuse

Leaving a dog in a cage for more than 5 hours a day is cruel and tantamount to abuse. Dogs are social animals and seek out the pleasure of the company of other dogs or people to feel secure. Being locked away in a quiet home in a cage for long periods of time is not conducive to building a good bond with your best friend. The cage always should be a place where the dog goes voluntarily. It should never be used to punish your dog and you should never put him in there in anger. The golden rule should apply here, if you wouldn’t want to be so confined for long periods of a time all day, you shouldn’t inflict such a situation on your dog. Some may argue that dogs are left in a cage for eight hours at night while the household is asleep, so why is it bad to leave him in there all day? The body shuts down a little during sleep and the need to defecate is not pressing. During the day, when your dog should be active, his body must be able to respond to normal functions.

Maximum time in cage allowed

8-10 weeks old 30-60 minutes
11-14 weeks old 1-3 hours
15-16 weeks old 3-4 hours
17+ weeks old 4-5 hours

Cage Uses

Cages can be used for a lot of different purposes other than for stoping the pup from damaging our home. They can be used as a place for a dog to recuperate post-surgery, or to rehabilitate a sore limb. Cages are great for isolating dogs when they are given bones or treats. They offer a place where they can enjoy their treat without the fear or threat of having to guard it if other dogs are around. They are a source of comfort for some dogs during thunderstorms, when noisy children come into a normally quiet home, or if there is strife in the air. Cages are great for transporting dogs safely in a car.
Not all dogs like cages, however. Some dogs have phobias or anxieties that are exacerbated by being in a cage. Placing such a dog in a cage for even a few minutes is inhumane and should be avoided. You will know from your dog’s affect if he is one of those who hates the cage. He will tremble, yawn, cry or vomit when placed in the cage. It’s bad to leave any dog in a cage all day, but especially heinous to do so with dogs who fear the cage and worry about being separated from their pack, the family.

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