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Thursday, 4 November 2010

Is the crate starting to grate?

Our awesome chewer Annabel got out of her crate/pen today and ate a lot of things. Shoes, baby wipes, more shoes, carpet, whatever she could. My concern is that she is doing this because she is sick of being in that crate, and who blames her. She goes in at 8am, comes out at 7pm, and goes back in at 10pm till the morning. This is too long, don't you agree? Any tips or suggestions on what we can do to have a happier dog and not have all our shoes chewed up?
Suzi, by email

I've asked Suzi some more questions, here's her reply:

I appreciate your response! I am most concerned too! Now I am even more concerned because of this email! I promise, I love my dog and take very good care of her!!
Annabel is will be nine months old on the 7th of November. She is a 40lb Golden Retriever/black Lab puppy. We got her when she was four months old. She has been through some puppy training, and is great in all other aspects other then the chewing. She doesn't pee in the house, she just eats everything in sight.
When she was little she was in the crate for less time, only about four hours at a time during the day and then out, then back in for sleeping. About a month ago, my boyfriend and my schedules changed for work, and she's been in longer.  Some days shorter, but I would say at least four out of five works days 8am to 7pm.  What we did when the schedule changed, was to buy an attachable pen for the crate, and she has a little more space to run around. She has now figured out how to get OVER that pen, even though it is almost three ft high.
So she has been getting out and chewing and destroying anything she can find, that she shouldn't be chewing. Forget her toys, forget the bones we leave, she chews shoes, and pillows, and even her bed!
I have never had a dog before, but my boyfriend has had MANY over his life time and has never had a dog like this!
Right now we are investigating getting a dog sitter. The only issue is that my boyfriend is a federal agent, and it's a security issue with having someone we don't know in the house.
We would let her out if she didn't chew everything.
What else information can I give you?

I've asked Suzi where she lives to see if we can find someone to help locally - but I'm guessing Suzi lives in the US.

I've spoken to Suzi again and suggested Doggie Daycare. She is lucky to live somewhere with lots of choice as this concept is well established. I've suggested looking at where they do some training as well as play.
I've asked Suzi to let us know how things go and what she decides.

Just wanted to send a long an update. We spent this weekend interviewing dog walkers as well as visiting doggy day cares. We are also revisiting our work schedules with our supervisors to find out if there is any flexibility. Furthermore, we bought an additional doggie gate. This gate allows for Annabel to have a lot more freedom within the house. AND we did a major clean of the house, being sure to get everything we could off the floor and out of doggie reach, as well as spraying bitter yuck on the things that can't be moved.
I think we are moving in the right direction. As I said before, I truly appreciate all the advice that was giving. The criticism given from some was quite unnecessary as I knew things weren't their best. Thank you for the think tank, for a new doggie mom it has been a blessing!


  1. Hello Suzie..the dog seems board so she needs entertaining, training and walking..invest in all three if possible.
    A dog walker/dog sitter will not only walk, tire and train your dog but give you peace of mind she's not "locked" away so long

    good luck - steve

  2. If you can't leave her in a larger penned off area unsupervised have you considered using a dog walker?

    They could come in during the day, take her out for a while to give her exercise, stimulation and entertainment so that (hopefully) she'll snooze away contently for the rest of the afternoon until you get home.

    Or even, if there is a good one in your area you could try doggy day care. It could be expensive if you did it every day but even a couple of days a week could help to ease the boredom and break the monotony of being in a cage for that long.

    Hope you manage to find a suitable solution!

  3. The poor dog - it is much, much too long, during the day. Sleeping/ bed time it can provide a safe haven - and the hours obviously can be extended - BUT there should be a source of water secured, so as it doesn't spill and wet the dogs bedding.
    When your dog sees you that is an ideal time to let them out, do bonding etc etc. I am surprised the dog hasn't gone 'kennel crazy' - I am sorry but that sort of lengthy incarceration is, as you realise, cruel.
    For behaviour modification training - it is fairly simple - dog is naughty - dog gets caged/ crated. 20 - 30 mins. The dog will not like that, a short sharp shock; but it needs to realise the lack of freedom is down to an action - not a way of life to rebel against in its own right.
    Another aspect is that you need to find good and safe mouthing toys by way of interest, Company of Animals do good things as do
    Size of the crate, apart from pure logic, that the animal needs to be able to move, and turn when static, dimensions relate to safety when using a crate in transit.
    We all know any animal is a long term commitment and we truly need to spend much time working with them - locking them up all day and night is a non-starter.
    Maybe a muzzle that prevents her chomping may add something different.
    Best wishes

  4. This is far too long to leave a dog alone, let alone trapped in a crate. That's around 20 hours a day!

    You don't mention her breed or her age, nor what your dog is doing for the 4 hours of precious freedom she is allowed, but my first thought is that you need to seriously consider if a dog is a pet suitable for your lifestyle and if a cat might not be a more suitable companion for you.

    If you are determined to keep your dog you need to find some way of breaking up her day, and giving her the appropriate amount of exercise and stimulation for her breed and age. This may be friends, family or a dog walker, or even dog daycare to help you out, plus you need to identify WHY she is destructive, is it boredom, attention seeking, separation anxiety or stress as there are different ways of dealing with them all. You won't even be able to consider any 'treatment' until you sort out the hours she is alone and give her a decent quality of life.

    As a dog walker I have refused to look after dogs kept in crates all day long, even when I've been asked to visit them twice a day.

  5. Suzi,keeping a dog in a crate from 7am to 8pm is cruel and I not meeting the dog needs I under s9 of the Animal Welfare Act.
    If you have any compassion for this unfortunate dog I suggest you dispose of the crate and spend time excercising and stimulating your dog who is so bored and distressed he is chewing on release. I doubt you would be able to do this so feel that you should rehome your dog and stick to a toy dog that can be happily incarcerated for 21 hours a day.

  6. OMG how cruel. Another prime example of the appalling way crates and cages are misused. How could you put a dog in a cage for that long. My heart breaks for her.


  8. My question to this person would be:

    WHY do you have a dog ???

    Perhaps it may be an idea to find it a home where the people are enjoying his/her company, take it out for walks, training and have a great life together!

  9. First of all, I'd like to applaud you for realising that there is a problem and trying to put it right.

    As others have said, that is far too long to leave a dog on its own - let alone caged. Please consider what is best for the dog, (and why you actually want a dog), and if you can't change your hours or make arrangements for someone to give it freedom during the day it would be best to rehome it somewhere it can get the attention dogs need.

  10. I've emailed Suzi for more details, I agree with the last poster - asking for help and advice is a positive step. Suzi posted a previous question about a serious chewing problem, Annabel is a 10 month old Retriever cross.
    I was wondering if there was a trainer close by that could give some one-on-one advice?

  11. Where does Suzi live Beverley - maybe I could swing by.

  12. As has been said, well done for realising this isn't ideal for your dog.

    There are options open to you, depending on your situation.

    If you are out of the house for those hours dog walkers are a good starting point, especially at such a young age, Annabel will be missing out on vital socialisation time and won't be getting the exercise needed to grow healthy bones. At 10 months she will need about 40 mins of on leash walking a day, split into 2 - 3 walks.

    You could also look into doggy day care, the hours may not suit if it's a boarding kennel type place but you might find more flixibility with someone who can keep her in their home for the day.

    Mental stimulation is as vital as physical exercise. Annabel may be chewing from boredom or because her teeth are still bedding in, although I would have thought from her age that she would have finished teething. There are great games and interactive toys you can get for her.

    Stuffed Kongs have been keeping dogs happy for years, you can also get feeder balls that you stuff with her dinner and she has to roll about to get the food. Nina Ottoson toys are great for you and your dog to play together. You can also get bottles with ropes in puzzle toys that she would have to work out how to get food out of.

    To stop her chewing shoes and baby wipes the simple task of putting them away from her reach is an easy way to manage this habit. To stop her from chewing the carpet again there are a couple of options. Most dogs chew carpets as puppies, you can wait for her to grow out of this, you can take up the carpet and have wooden flooring or you can use a bitter apple type spray on the carpet where she chews.

    One of the reasons she chews could be due to diet, if she is lacking in some minerals she could be trying to compensate. It's worth looking at this and if she's not already on a premium diet a swap might be good.

    Training classes would be a good thing for you to do together as well, there are lots of great ones out there, make sure it's well run and has trainers who are members of a reconginsed organisation.

    Hope this helps

    Member INTODogs
    Ass Member PDTE

  13. Hi. It's far too long to leave a young dog anywhere alone. If you are unable to have a dog sitter come to the house then you should take your dog to a puppy creche or to someone who can have her in their home during the day. It's no life for a dog to be left for so long. It's a harsh thing to say, but if you are unable to give her a better life then you really should consider rehoming her, preferably through a reputable breed rescue.

  14. If you can't find a dog walker or a dog day care nearby maybe you can advertise locally for someone who's home all day to walk her every day. Maybe there's a retired person or someone who works at home, a mom, etc. who'd love to have the exercise. (I know I would!)

    Try slipping a flyer in your neighbors' doors/mail slots, and see if anyone responds.

    A federal agent shouldn't have any top secret info at home anyway, so that shouldn't be an issue.

  15. First of all, I would like to address all of you who wrote nasty responses instead of helpful advice. Shame on you as well. I am coming forward, recognizing there is an issue, and trying to do the right thing here. I should not be ridiculed for that. I love that dog, and am looking for the best solution for everyone, including her. Might you keep in mind, that I could've not written anything or even have been the slightest bit concerned? But I was concerned and am here now.

    The issue of being in the crate this long is recent. Within the past 1.5 months. Our schedules were changed at work, out of our control, and we are doing the best, as I said, to find a solution.

    Annabel is in a space that includes a crate. It is a pen that is connected to the crate, so please, she is not in a tiny box. The whole space, crate included is about 7ft X 5ft.

    When she isn't in that space, she is out and about. We take her for long walks, runs, and even bike rides. We are frequent visitors to the local dog park as well as to other parks in our area. She enjoys playing with dogs, and loves hikes!

    We are looking in to reputable dog walkers. The issue with my boyfriend's job means that we do actually have things in our house that require us to be a lot more selective on who is allowed in.

  16. Lucy King (Paws for Success)5 November 2010 at 04:09


    Why not look to send the dog out to doggie day care then? that way the selective intake because of your partners job won't apply but your young dog will get stimulation and fun.

    As you have already acknowledged, that amount of time in a crate/run for a young dog is not really very fair and a lot of the chewing probably does stem from frustration. I'd also like to just jump in and say that 3ft is nothing for a dog of that breed, so it's no wonder she jumps out! I know dogs much smaller who can jump 6-7ft!

    Alternatively, would it be possible to have a big kennel/run in the garden with really high sides? I'd rather kennel outside during the day if the weather is okay as it allows the dog to look around etc.

    The main thing of importance really is the welfare of the dog. She is your responsibility and you need to do all you can to provide her needs. Posting this is the first step to that.

  17. Any good dog walker will have insurance and find one with a CRB or police check.

    To be fair, our reputations are most likely worth many times more than anything you could have in your house.

  18. bit unfair to critisise any comments really as the Think Tank is kept alive by dog lovers. Your first post did not have any supporting info and it would be a natural reaction to show immediate concern for the dog after reading it. I'm glad you are all now enjoying a better life together. There have been some great comments to help you and I'm sure anything you have taken as 'nasty' has only been borne from genuine concern.

  19. I think everything I wanted to say has been said already...but...I would just like to pick up on something Simon has said:

    "For behaviour modification training - it is fairly simple - dog is naughty - dog gets caged/ crated. 20 - 30 mins."

    I don't agree. A crate should be a pleasant place for a dog to go to - a safe haven in fact where he/she can have a break from visiting grandchildren for example, or a cosy bolthole during thunderstorms or fireworks.
    My Tala, a Stafford, loves her crate as it has never been used for anything other than a place of comfort.

    Good luck to Suzi, I don't feel so annoyed by your brave post now I realise your circumstances have changed. It could happen to almost anyone. Good for you for trying to find a solution.