The Politics of Pet Dogs and Kennel Crates

The Politics of Pet Dogs and Kennel Crates

I thought this an interesting article on how PETA works to further their agenda on not owning pets.

I was more than a little surprised to find that there is an active campaign being pursued to ban the use of kennel crates for dogs. This has resulted in a number of articles in mainstream newspapers and magazines, as well as vigorous lobbying attempts to get the use of kennel crates for dogs classified as a form of animal abuse.

There are some methods of restraining and confining dogs which have problems. Tying out dogs on chains or ropes for excessive amounts of time has been shown to have negative effects. Obviously tying a dog out for long periods without access to adequate shelter from the elements can be harmful to a dog’s health. However there are also psychological problems that result from this practice, the major one being that it increases the level of aggression in dogs. The reason for this is that a dog’s first response to anything that it interprets as a threat is to run away from the situation. Restraining a dog on a short tether prevents him from fleeing, and therefore, the dog self protectively chooses to attack whoever he sees as a potential danger before they get a chance to harm him. This aggressive attack behavior soon becomes habitual—a fact that has been recognized for a long time. There is even a manuscript recovered from the ruins of Pompeii which describes the procedure for turning a dog into an effective guard dog, and its major recommendation is to tether the dog on a short lead near the door of the home or other premise that needs to be protected.

Contrary to the information on the use of tie outs, I knew of no evidence suggesting that the judicious use of kennel crates can cause problems for dogs. In fact, there is a reasonable consensus among dog behaviorists which suggests that the use of a kennel crate is extremely helpful in many ways. …….

Many of the negative attitudes toward the kennel crate seem to arise from people anthropomorphizing. ……. However dogs are not people. The major progenitor of dogs was the wolf, and wolves spend a good deal of their day in a den. Dens are simply small caves, or burrows that the wolf had dug out. These often provide just enough space for the animal to stand up and turn around. The den is viewed by these canines as a place of safety and our domestic dogs seem to have inherited that behavioral predisposition. …….. For this reason I keep a kennel crate in a corner near our living room with its door propped open. At almost any time during the day I am apt to find one or another of my dogs comfortably snoozing away in the crate. ……..

Thinking, perhaps, that I had missed some new scientific data against the advisability of crating dogs I reviewed the current research literature on crating and found nothing negative, however I did encounter what appears to be one of the sources of this new negative attitude toward kennel crates. Apparently, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) recently began an ad campaign condemning the use of crates for dogs, under any circumstances. Thus a recent half page ad in the Wall Street Journal has the heading “Be an Angel for Animals” and goes on to say “Don’t ever crate or chain them.”

I therefore decided to check the PETA website to see what their arguments against crating were. Instead of finding any data I found only polemics, with statements like “No matter what a pet shop owner or dog trainer might say, a dog crate is just a box with holes in it, and putting dogs in crates is just a way to ignore and warehouse them until you get around to taking care of them properly.”

As I paged through the various articles on their website, it became quite clear to me that PETA is not against the practice of crating, but it is actually against the practice of pet ownership. Thus they state “we believe that it would have been in the animals’ best interests if the institution of ‘pet keeping’-i.e., breeding animals to be kept and regarded as ‘pets’-never existed.” They also go on to say, “This selfish desire to possess animals and receive love from them causes immeasurable suffering”.

The crux of their argument against pet keeping seems to be that we are “depriving them of the opportunity to engage in their natural behavior. They are restricted to human homes, where they must obey commands and can only eat, drink, and even urinate when humans allow them to.” I must admit that I found this to be particularly puzzling and unsatisfying. My wife and I have raised five children, and have nine grandchildren, and when they were young they were taught to obey simple commands and requests as part of their socialization. Our children were only given the opportunity to eat and drink according to our scheduling, and certainly were not allowed to urinate anytime and anywhere that they chose during the period of their toilet training. We certainly did not feel that we were engaging in child abuse by utilizing these basic child-rearing practices. To treat a dog in much the same way that we treat our own children, including providing the love and support that they need, does not appear to me to constitute animal abuse, or an argument against the keeping of pets.

I believe that PETA really has no scientific evidence to support the complete abolishment of the use of the kennel crate. It seems to me that their actual desire for banning crating is that in so doing they would make keeping dogs in the house more difficult and the housebreaking of puppies less reliable. This advances their anti-pet agenda by taking away some of the pleasure of pet keeping and in that way it would further their programme aimed at denying us the companionship of our dogs and cats.

Unfortunately they have been having a modicum of success. Because of such misleading publicity and lobbying campaigns there are a number of venues that have passed laws against tying dogs out. This is sensible if we were dealing with tethering dogs for long periods of time, or without adequate shelter, but some of the legislation has been as extreme as the ad campaigns used by PETA which incorporate words like “don’t ever”. Thus here in my hometown of Vancouver, a woman was recently fined $250 because she tied her dog’s leash to a bicycle rack while she ducked into a grocery store to pick up a couple of items. The dog was tied out for less than 10 minutes, and could easily be seen by its owner through the store’s window. Tying a dog out for a few minutes on a shopping trip does not constitute dog abuse, but legislating against such a common practice could discourage people from having dogs since it would mean they could not take their pets with them when they move around town. This appears to be the kind of thing that PETA really wants to advance— to bring about an end to the keeping of dogs and cats as pets—not the protection of animals.

Stanley Coren is the author of many books including: Born to Bark, The Modern Dog, Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? The Pawprints of History, How Dogs Think, How To Speak Dog, Why We Love the Dogs We Do, What Do Dogs Know? The Intelligence of Dogs, Why Does My Dog Act That Way? Understanding Dogs for Dummies, Sleep Thieves, The Left-hander Syndrome


Dog Food Reviews by Brand

These reviews can be found here.

Seems a fairly comprehensive reviews of a whole host of dog foods.    Many that I have never even heard of.

They go through the ingredient list, help explain what the different ingredients are and give each type of dog food a rating.

For those who feed kibble you may find it valuable.

Basics – Teach your dog to heel

The “heel” command is a formal obedience exercise in which a dog walks precisely by a handler’s knee, matching her pace and immediately sitting when the handler halts. Your four-legged friend should know this valuable obedience exercise-for your sake and his.

This is the formal thing to do. 🙂  Do most people want their dog to heel?  no.. They simply want their dog to walk with a loose leash.   BUT teaching a heel is very valuable.

1. useful for agility training when you want your dog in close to you.

2. useful for walking through crowds and on busy streets

3. useful for when you are walking your dog off-leash and need your dog to stay really close to you.

A dog walking at heel is staying close, paying close attention, and is right beside you.

So just how do you teach a dog to walk at heel?

1. get your dogs attention, get your dog to watch you and pay attention to you.   There are different ways to do this.  Get your dogs attention by calling his name, tapping on his head, making noises or any other way you can think of.   This is a command in and of itself.

2. teach your dog where to stand.  For most people a heel is having your dog stand with their head at your left knee (or hip/ankle) depending on the size of the dog.   he’s to stay in that position regardless of how fast you move or in which direction you move in.  NOW.. for agility folks…you might want to teach your dog to heel on both sides as it’s a useful tool to have.  🙂   have a different command for each side.  Me…I always taught my dog to walk on my right side as that’s what worked for me.   Doesn’t really matter as long as you teach them to do so consistently.

3. Once your dog is in position.  Say Rover (or whatever the dogs name is) HEEL.  and start walking forward.  When the dog starts with you. Stop and praise him!  Treat him with food.  And then try again.  Practice is key.

4. gradually increase the length of time you walk with him before treating him.

If your dog starts to forge ahead, a good trick to correct that is to turn around calling your dogs name and walk in the opposite direction.

some people will do this:

When he tries to forge ahead, turn sharply and step directly in his path, making a 90 degree turn and heading off in a new direction. Once again, turn sharply, as if walking along a square. The dog will be used to leading you, and may be surprised or confused. Walk in a straight line again, until the dog tries to forge past you. Pull the same stunt. Doing this for 5-15 minutes a day is enough. Some dogs learn after the first session, but some dogs who have been used to leading you for years may take longer. This lesson will teach your dog that YOU are the one who knows where you are going, and not him.:

there are sites on-line to teach you how to train your dog to heel, I hope this has given you a start.  🙂

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2010. That’s about 24 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 6 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 157 posts.

The busiest day of the year was November 25th with 177 views. The most popular post that day was Are Turkey necks safe feeding?.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for biking with dog, rabbit housing, cycling with your dog, what are organs, and biking with dogs.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Are Turkey necks safe feeding? May 2007


Biking/Cycling with Your Dog December 2007


Rabbit Safe Foods September 2008


Rabbit housing January 2008


How to Make your Own Tug-toy (for your dog that is) January 2008

Cocoa mulch warning

Please share this with all the pet owners you know and ask them to do the same – the information you take a few minutes to share might prevent the senseless loss of other pets.

Please tell every dog or cat owner you know. Even if you don’t have a pet, please pass this to those who do. Over the weekend, the doting owner of two young lab mixes purchased Cocoa Mulch from Target to use in their garden. The dogs loved the way it smelled and it was advertised to keep cats away from their garden. Their dog (Calypso) decided the mulch smelled good enough to eat and devoured a large helping. She vomited a few times which was typical when she eats something new but wasn’t acting lethargic in any way. The next day, Mom woke up and took Calypso out for her morning walk. Half way through the walk, she had a seizure and died instantly.

Although the mulch had NO warnings printed on the label, upon further investigation on the company’s web site,  this product is HIGHLY toxic to dogs and cats.

Cocoa Mulch is manufactured by a variety of companies, and it has been shown  that “It is true that studies have shown that 50% of the dogs that eat Cocoa Mulch can suffer physical harm to a variety of degrees (depending on each individual dog). However, 98% of all dogs won’t eat it.”

*Snopes site gives the following information.

Cocoa Mulch, which is sold in a variety of places including Rona, home hardware and other Garden supply stores contains a lethal ingredient called ‘Theobromine’. IT IS LETHAL TO DOGS AND CATS. It smells like chocolate and it really attracts dogs. They will ingest this stuff and die. Several deaths already occurred.

Theobromine is in all chocolate, especially dark or baker’s chocolate which is toxic to dogs. Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of theobromine, axanthine compound similar in effects to caffeine and theophylline. A dog that ingested a lethal quantity of garden mulch made from cacao bean shells developed severe convulsions and died 17 hours later. Analysis of the stomach contents and the ingested cacao bean shells revealed the presence of lethal amounts of theobromine.

Emails of this sort are circulated every year.  names/dates/company names change.  BUT it is basically true that if you use cocoa mulch, be alert that some dogs will munch on it and potentially consume enough that they will have a negative reaction to it.

Dog stayed with Owner

dog stayed by owner’s side.

Through the last six years of his life, Parley Nichols, 81, never left his Hartville, Ohio, home without his dog Lady. The two were best friends, soul mates and constant companions who took care of each other.
So when Parley, who had developed dementia, went missing on April 8, it was no surprise that Lady, his 6-year-old golden retriever that he bought as a puppy, was also gone.

“Dad had been wandering around, and we kept looking for him for a solid week, sending out flyers, doing whatever we could,” Terry Nichols, one of Parley’s two sons, tells “With his dementia, he would struggle to hear you talk to him, then four hours later he seemed okay. We were very worried.”

Finally, a neighbor called saying someone had driven by a field outside of town and heard a dog barking, trying to attract attention. But when Nichols and other family members drove to the area, they found nothing.

“When we went a second time to a different place by a creek, we found Lady and my dad, who was already dead,” Nichols tells “Lady was standing by his side protecting him. We are sure that she never left my dad for seven days, staying alive by drinking water from the creek.”

Lady didn’t know what to do when she saw other members of the Nichols family arrive at the scene on April 14. They had to pull her away from her master and place her in the back of their pickup truck.
“I don’t know how dogs perceive things but she knew she had to stay with dad no matter what,” says Nichols. “And she did.”

Lady may not have eaten for a week, but the sturdy dog (who weighed 75 pounds before the incident) was in great condition.
The preliminary autopsy conducted by the Stark County coroner found that Parley Nichols, whose story was first reported by WKYC-TV, passed away from heart failure. He could have been dead for the full week.

With the sad loss of her owner now behind her, Lady has been able to move on. She is living with other Nichols family members in the immediate area, enjoying a similar lifestyle that she had with Parley.