I was reading an article today about how "baby cages", where human babies would be enclosed in a cage, hung out a window to be "raised in fresh air" used to be a fad in the 1930's. Apparently Eleanor Roosevelt used one for one of her children until one of her neighbors threatened to report her for something she thought was just part of being modern parent. Good Housekeeping Article on Baby Cages While baby cages sound ridiculous to us today, I was commenting to my coworkers, "What do you think they will think of crates and cages for animals in another 100 years?" What will people think about some of the things we do now- it's always an interesting discussion.
Cue an appointment, a short while later. I was talking with the dog's parents about their dog who has suddenly developed separation anxiety. The dog, when separated from his family, will chew things he shouldn't. I took time to try to tell the family this was a serious issue- their response, "Well, he doesn't really hurt anything important, the house is already pretty baby-proof, he just chews on wood and stuff." Woah- I've heard this before and it can lead to dangerous behavior. Dogs with separation anxiety can chew all sorts of things and get foreign bodies (things in their stomach that don't belong). I once saw a dog with very interesting X -rays that ended up being 3 pacifiers and 4 nipple tops to bottles. The owner kind of laughed that his dog was being passive aggressive because he never really liked their new baby. He wasn't laughing at his $3,000 bill.
I also shared about dogs who eat dry wall- destroying not only property but also causing obstructions in the stomach that required surgery. Separation Anxiety can become a form of mental illness that can be very detrimental for everyone's quality of life. We discussed anxiety medications, homeopathic therapies and other suggestions for reducing anxiety (such as the chapter on it in Sophia Yin's book, "How To Behave So Your Dog Behaves"). The owners didn't really seem to take it seriously.
I mentioned, "well, at least put him in a crate when you leave so he can't hurt himself." I got hit with bad looks and the comment of, "We'd never kennel him! That's cruel!". While I don't recommend keeping dogs in cages or crates all the time, there is appropriate times where you are actually helping the dog. Do you think dogs enjoy gastrointestinal surgery? Do you think they enjoy spending tons of time in the hospital? Do you think you'd enjoy spending $4,000 to save your pet's life from a preventable problem? Apparently my pleas went nowhere, so I just documented the conversation in the hopes that what I was worried about would not come true.
Crates and crate training are important to get your puppy used to. In a way, it's kind of like their "cave". I put my dog in the crate when I was gone or late at night when I wasn't sure how he would react to my cat. He would go into his crate on his own if he heard scary noises or me chopping vegetables (or escaping the toothbrush). It was his safe place and he was fine with it. I was happy with knowing I wouldn't have to take him to surgery for removing something stupid he ate. While Baby Cages are a home trend that has gone out of style thankfully for safety reasons, crates should stay in style for a LONG TIME, as they protect our family members.