In a recent column, you stated that crating a dog is mean and cruel. I have a 2-year-old Maltese-mix whom I adopted from an animal shelter about a year ago. She has extreme separation anxiety and chews, scratches and barks uncontrollably when she's left at home alone, indoors or out. Her vet recommended crating her while I go to work with a pillow from my bed, the TV on and her Kong toy filled with peanut butter. She spends six hours a day in her crate. We occasionally monitor her behavior with a webcam, and, judging by her behavior, this has been successful. She is calm, quiet and appears comfortable in her crate. Yes, I could have gotten her doggie Prozac (as you suggest in your column), but I believe that natural, humane ways of treating anxiety are better options than medicating an animal. My doggie had a rough life before coming to us and had been in several shelters. She has a happy life now with a family who loves her and makes sure she is comfortable when we have to be away from her. The fact that you say crating is mistreatment is downright offensive. As a veterinarian, I would hope you realize that, for some dogs, crating is a healthier and safer way of treating separation anxiety than medicating or rehoming an animal. Your column on crating was rude, small-minded and lacked professionalism. I am sending a copy of this letter to my local paper -- which carries your column
Jul 10, 2012
You took offense at what I consider an offense to dogs -- crating all day (for six or more hours) is inhumane treatment. It sets up a condition of learned helplessness. For puppies and older dogs who must drink more water because of kidney problems and then need to urinate more frequently, prolonged caging can be extremely stressful. Clearly you are not a frequent reader of my column; otherwise you would not feel such discomfort over my concerns about this issue and blow up with self-righteous indignation! I have often stated that crate training to help dogs become house-trained and feel secure is a useful practice, but pups should be taken out periodically to be fed and walked and should not be confined all day. Once dogs get used to being crated and no longer fight to get out, the door can be left open so they can come and go as they wish. This gives them control over their environment and greater self-confidence, and it serves as a den for security, which helps them cope with separation anxiety. I would advise you try this for your dog and let me know how she responds. You should place a pee pad a few feet from her open crate (preferably scented with a little of her urine) so she can relieve herself when she needs to. Leave a radio or TV on since the sound of the human voice is reassuring for many home-alone dogs.
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