Dogs: To crate or not to crate?
Hoboken411 reader Aimee is having some problems with a couple rather destructive dogs / puppies she owns – and is seeking advice on whether crating the animals during the day does more harm than good.
What suggestions can you offer her?
Dog Crate Conundrum
“I am writing to share a conundrum because I thought other readers might be able to offer some advice. Though this seems like an unanswerable situation to me, maybe others can shed some light on it (even non-dog-owners), whether there is insight to share, or because (like slowing down to see a fender-bender or fight on the street) there is a human nature-level curiosity in marveling about someone else’s situation of the moment.
My “disaster” is a pair of purely evil, though lovable, one-year-old high-energy labrador retrievers that share my life with me. Though, actually… they only share me when they feel like it, and my life has hardly been the same since I adopted them. Initially I believed my 1200 sf. space would be big enough for them to comfortably roam around during the daytime while I was at work. I always imagined that I would crate train them only for the first six months or so, until I could trust them to be alone and not have “accidents” inside. Unfortunately, after many more months of patience, brief 20-minute trial periods, and repetitive discipline–I’m honestly not sure if I can ever have the peace of mind to give them run of the house anytime soon. My boyfriend disagrees: he thinks that I can leave them alone with +/- two dozens toys, and actually come home to a somewhat-peaceable situation. As for me, I’m scared as hell just running down the block for a cup of coffee because I’m never sure what destruction is in store for me upon my return. Also, it’s almost impossible to know if they’ve swallowed something dangerous (which happens about once a month and requires immediate [expensive!] medical attention).
Does confining them make it worse?
In a nutshell, my dogs are highly destructive. Don’t get me wrong–I love them! But… they chew corners of moldings and staircases; actually even eat walls sometimes; like to chew apart sofa cushions, rugs, clothing; and will literally put any free object in their mouths just for the sheer pleasure of destroying it. When they are not targeting something in the apartment, they are wrestling which tends to knock things over. Because of this, I live in a totally non-cluttered space that looks more like a hotel lobby than any other regular place in Hoboken. [Actually, this e-mail is even taking longer to write than anticipated because one is trying to eat my desk chair and the other is trying to open the toilet for a drink!] I know they are smart dogs and need to be pre-occupied and exercised, but I take them out for at least two hours of walks/runs/park romps a day, and their walker takes them mid-day for another hour-long romp.
I’m sure my dilemma is clear, but to put it in a nutshell: when do I take a chance and leave them outside their crates?
If the time is not now (which I would argue it certainly is not), when is the appropriate time to let them be free to hang out when I’m gone? Perhaps, as my boyfriend suggests, time out of confinement is the answer to this problem. Will a house strewn with dog toys and some roaming space calm them down and solve all my problems?
And… for those of you with no “dog advice” to offer–are you re-modeling and in need of some cheap demolition work?”