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Cage or Free Roam

We recently caught up with a friend, an adopter who is also a dog rescuer, she just gotten to know of our training services and we talked for quite a while. Through our conversation she came to know that we actually recommended cages instead of letting dogs free roam, so she asked this, "why do you want to cage dogs?", I thought for a moment and then decided to explain briefly the pros and cons of introducing dogs cages especially when owners cannot be there to monitor them, we thought that it would be great if our readers can hear both sides of the story. Do note that there were no disagreement during the conversation, everything was purely sharing of our theories and we respect each other's decision.

She told us that her advisor, who is also the head of the foundation did not recommend placing a dog in the cage, he advised everyone to let their dogs roam freely even at night. Knowing that we do training and boarding, she wanted my opinions on this matter. I explained that when introduced correctly, the cage that humans describe is actually a den to the dog - a den is a place where dogs feel safe, they bring their food inside, they hide in this area when there is danger, they sleep, give birth and guard this area with their lives. This is their home, and without it they feel lost, in our experience we also found that dogs without dens have much higher chance of becoming fearful when they grow older.

Amber always hide in her crate when she meets aggressive dogs, she gets frustrated and would stay in front of the door when we close it up during cleaning time. We always leave the door open in the day and only lock her inside only during resting times. Even during daytime where she is free to roam about, we would always see her resting inside the crate at her own preference, it is only during play sessions with us where she would get excited running around the living room and playing with her toys.

Now why would we want to lock the crate during resting times? Isn't it better if Amber can wander around the house at night? As we had mentioned in a post "HERE", the eyesight of dogs are not as good as the human eyes, they are only good at spotting moving objects, everything else around the house can actually hurt them if they accidentally get stuck, fall or even get scratched/cut. Even when you puppy proof the whole house, when dogs grind and swallow debris left by things like walls, wooden and plastic objects, they might actually get choked to death while you sleep! To add on, because we constantly board dogs and some of them are aggressive, putting them to free roam while we sleep will endanger their lives if they get into fights, or even unwanted pregnancy if they are not spayed/neutered, which is exactly what's happening with unethical boarding place nowadays.

I then asked this question, "may I know your reasons for not wanting to introduce a cage to dogs?", she paused for a while, then answered that mostly it was because her advisor said so and that she had her reasons for not wanting to do so. She had also told me that most owners prefer to board their dogs without cages, they never want to have anything to do with it, even at night. I then replied this, "true, so it all still boils down to customer's preference", not what dog needs. She then understood my intentions and said that I had a point, but she also has her reason and I respected it.

We wouldn't mind leaving the dogs to free roam if that's what customers want, but knowing that our theory of doing things our way to feed the needs of dogs and also keeping them safe, would we feel guilty just because we want the money? I would've felt disgusted by my actions and will not even sleep at night worrying for these poor dogs. She had wanted to introduce a customer that had a problematic dog but after seeing our video of keeping Amber in the crate, the owner had doubts, I then told her that it was perfectly fine if she didn't feel safe with us, "we can only do a good job if the owner trust us" was what I said.

Now after hearing the pros of introducing a cage to the dog, why would people still hate caging their dogs? We want to share what most owners define as 'cons' and what the real cons are when choosing whether or not to cage a dog.

What most owners think: 
1. Cage means jail
2. Cage is ugly
3. Cage is small
4. Dog is a friend not pet
5. Dog cries inside the cage, it seems very sad

Understanding the problem: 
1. Truth is, dogs will love their cage if owners guide them correctly, jail is where the dog is rarely or never let out of the house for walks. Dogs do not care whether it is a 3x2 ft cage or a large mansion, in fact they might get even more stressed if you give too much space because most dogs simply can't handle such a big den (the house).

2. The cage may look ugly to you but trust us, dogs don't care at all!

3. Once again, dogs don't need such a big space, they just want a safe area to rest in knowing that their owners will return to bring them out!

4. Yes dogs are friends, but you cannot escape the fact that they are also your pet. It is a pet friend, not a human friend, the needs of a dog and human are completely different so stop assuming.

5. People always exaggerate when it comes to animals even though we actually do the same to our own species! Read here to learn more about dog basics.

Now you more or less understand our theories and the answer to common myths above, we'll list down the true 'cons' to the dog. Note that we are talking about understanding from the view of the dog, not owners.

Amber initially before training

1. They will cry for the first couple of days thinking that you are leaving them alone. 
This is very hard for most owners, to learn how to control their emotions when they know that certain things are taught for the sake of their dog's well being. However if done right in just less than a week the dog will learn to love it's cage and treat it as their den/room.

2. They will go crazy if you introduce the area as a jail. 
Locking them up constantly and using the cage as punishment is never the right thing.

After merely 3-4 days

If we were to compare, the pros outweigh the cons of introducing cage to dogs by a large margin. But why shelters still recommend letting dogs to free roam? In my understanding, I believe that it is because most abandoned dogs are always locked up in cages thus they are very fearful of these objects, if you have adopted a fearful dog then of course it will not be wise to introduce a cage to them right away, give them some time to trust you then consider introducing their den slowly.

Most owners do not bother to take time and build trust with their dog, rather they choose the easy way out by treating their dogs like a human being, which temporary stop certain behaviors but worsen them in the long run, whereby dogs are thrown away, or given back to shelters after adopting for a short period of time.

Now we hope that people can now understand our views better, we are all trying our best to give dogs the best life they ought to have, opinions are sometimes different and we understand. Hope more people can take the effort to try understanding things from the view of their dog. No matter how clever they are, dogs are still way lower in terms of intelligence level compared to humans, they don't think logically and many of them are not brought up by their mother during puppy stage, which is why they need your patience and guidance even more.


  1. Agree.
    I had 2 toy poodles, we trained and kept them roam during day and rest in crates at night. it didn't have any problem over 10 years.
    A 17 year-old our dog passed away last winter due to an accident while family was away. She was stuck in a very cold bathroom for 4-6 hours, then got sick and died a week after.
    The other dog, a16 year-old with cataract, also faced an incident that caused heat stroke during summer because she went to the upstairs that is hotter than where she usually is, and couldn't come down by herself since she couldn't see the stair way well. Fortunately, she was okay.
    After those incidents we tried to keep the dog in her crate while we were away. She had understood the crate was safe. But I guess she took that as a punishment, now she doesn't want to go back to the crate as smoothly as before even at night.
    Eventually we gave up to keep her in the crate during day. Instead, we are trying to protect her some other ways, but it's not perfect.
    I don't have any plan to get any other dog right now, but if I do one day, surely I'll train them to be in a cage anytime we cannot monitor.

    1. Hi TB,

      Thank you for your input, it is great for people to understand the consequences of putting their dogs on free roam, even in tropical countries like Singapore.

      We are so sorry for your lost, if you do have any issues in future feel free to contact us, we will be more than happy to guide you through :)

  2. Hi, thanks for sharing. I'm just curious to know how did Amber get into and out of the crate easily as from the picture, the opening/door of the crate seems to be quite high from the floor?


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