Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Dogs & Crates

I apologise, its been some time since my last confession blog post. Life has been busy, we have gone through plenty of changes, and life issues, some of which I didn't want to write about, others I did but just didn't have the time or had just plain lost the writing habit long ago and thus couldn't get it together.

Anyway lets skip over that. We have a new addition to the family and that is something that has brought up a concern to me. After two years of having a Jack Russell we decided it was time to get another dog. We've long thought there were times when she needed another dog around to help her with the separation anxiety that she seems to have suffered from since her last owners moved to Hawaii and we took her to our hearts. Unfortunately we thought our house was just too small to have two dogs running around, although the students who lived upstairs seemed to manage with four.

However when our lease was up, and the landlord gave us 8 days to make a decision whether to sign and stay for another 12 months or move, we discovered the cabin across the road was going to be available and we jumped. We were sad to move on, not least because it was the first house we got to chose together as a couple, but in exchange we gained a 3 level house with no neighbours above us, a new first for us. We may have lost a garden that took us 3 years to build but we also had new opportunities. The space that came with this new house meant that it was ripe for partying away from disturbing the neighbours too much and of course space for  a new dog.

We love having a Jack Russell, her energy is infectious, and the love that she gives us and needs from us in return has added so much to our lives the past two years, but she is, at times, willful, and the thought of having two dogs like that was too much, especially with our busy lives. Besides she always seems to do better with bigger dog. I had thought that having a medium sized dog like a Border Collie would be ideal. A collie would be smart enough not to do the things the she would likely want to teach any new additions to the house, and a collie would also be more loyal than the Jack Russell sometimes likes to be. So when we moved the wife found a 10 month old Border Collie mix available from a family that was moving to Japan, it sounded ideal. After travelling the 30 or so miles to Orem to pick him up we realised there was a bit more to the mix that we had originally thought. This dog was a big boy. But he took to us all instantly and so we took him home with us. Which brings me to concern.

I'm not sure when dog crates became so popular. I never saw dog crates being used much back in Scotland, at least I wasn't aware of it, but here in the US it seems to be routinely recommended by breeders, dog owners and veterinarians.

Carl's (that's his name, apparently the family were big on The Walking Dead)  previous owners had him sleeping in his crate at night, and had him cooped up in his crate during the day when the family were out of the house. The family clearly loved him, and the parting was hard for everyone concerned as we drove off home with him in our car. They gave the big boy a walk in the morning , and a walk in the afternoon daily but outside of walking and family time that is a long time to spend in the crate for any size dog never mind one as big as Carl.

Now I understand some of the advantages of dog crate training. It can be a useful tool for puppies to learn and keep them from mischief, and if you are going to travel a lot it can come in handy having a crate trained dog, but a a day after getting Carl home and making sure he was comfortable here I broke that crate down and put it down in the laundry room in the basement. Why? Well the poor boy must have had little more than 8 hours of freedom a day the past 10 months, if even that. After spending every night, and family work hours in the crate Carl didn't exactly have a dogs life. Just the time it took me to write this much has my legs itching to get up and walk around, I can't even imagine what Carl must have felt like unable to stretch his legs or roll over. Or what sort of thoughts he might have during that part of the day.

With this kind of restricted, impoverished environment its not surprising that he's kinda dumb. My concern is not that he's kinda stupid when it comes to being a pet, as a family we can take the time to learn how to train him in such matters but the fact that he doesn't know how to be a Collie/Shepherd saddens me and maybe I'm wrong on this but I can only put it down to him spending so much time in a crate.

By getting a slightly older dog, and a Border Collie (albeit a mix with a whole lot of Australian Shepherd thrown in) I had been hoping for a dog that was smart and to a certain extent trained. But unfortunately the poor boy had been in his crate so long that he had not learned the essence of being himself. What should have been a smart dog by default of his breed turned out to be pretty stupid boy.

1 comment:

Siobhan said...

I have mixed feelings about crates. I have seen them used in Scotland for dogs who are a wee bit destructive but who are not left alone all that much. I also know owners who do not need to crate.

But some dogs just are a little slow. Just like some people. But he will get trained eventually I am sure and I hope he rubs along well with your family.