I recently met with a family who adopted a dog from a foster situation. The new owners were that the dog did “fine” in a crate. Very shortly after adoption, it became clear that the dog had separation anxiety. The dog’s new owner videotaped the dog’s behavior in the crate when left alone and were horrified at what they saw. I watched that video and this dog was panting, barking, drooling, pawing at the crate, and getting his head halfway out of the door and pulling it back in ( this is the very scary part).
I wish I could say that this dog’s behavior in the crate was unusual but I have seen many videotapes of dogs trying to escape their crate. This is not safe! I know of one dog who died due to asphyxiation as he got his neck stuck in the crate door while trying to get out of the crate. Many other dogs have torn nails, paw pads, and broken teeth, and had injuries on their noses from trying to escape a crate.
Anyone who uses a crate to confine their dog when left alone, dog should videotape their dog to see how their dog behaves. Videotaping is the gold standard and the only way to really know what happens when you are not there. If you are like me and not technically savvy, you may wish to start by doing a search for inexpensive nanny cams. I am hoping that readers of this blog will post ways they videotaped their dog when left alone.
If you do videotape your dog and find he or she is trying to get out, the answer is not to put on padlocks and make it more difficult for the dog to get out. The answer is to understand why the dog is trying to get out and treat that issue!
Emily D. Levine DVM
Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
Animal Emergency & Referral Associates
Fairfield NJ 07068