View Full Version : Had a Scare...Are Crates Dangerous?

19th June 2011, 07:46 PM
Last night I nearly had a heart attack. It was just awful :(

Coco is crate trained, has been since 12 weeks old. She runs in there when she knows it is time and will go on cue to "kennel up!" She never whines in her crate either, such a good girl. Always took off her collar and gave her a stuffed kong or some safe treats to eat up too.

So some may recall that recently Coco has turned into an escape artist. We had been gradually giving her more freedom by allowing her out of the crate surrounded by a pen when we were away. She had been getting out of that set up so we decided to go back to the crate. Things were fine until last night.

When I got home I immediately knew something was wrong - I heard very hoarse crying/barking outside as I approached my door. I came in to find that Coco's mouth had got stuck in the door of her crate; her crate is plastic with a metal door like they all come in. Her top two canines were stuck in a little square between the metal, as well as her two lower canines...which kept her mouth open. I am just 100% positive her clever little mind was trying to figure out how to escape, she has been paying attention to how we manipulate the door to open and close the crate.

There was a puddle of drool all over the floor, I had no idea a dog could drool so much. Her mouth was a little bloody, but no damage done...however she was quite freaked out. She had soiled herself (and has NEVER had an accident in the crate, not even as a baby) and was covered in drool. It smelled awful. I was only gone about 4 hours...but it still kills me to think there was a possibility she had her mouth stuck open for that long. I feel horrible.

I gave her a bath and rinsed out her mouth, wondering if I should go to the emergency vet, however she ran around playing with my cat and was fine. Today she is just a little sheepish. Seems extra sensitive and needy... or it could just be me imagining that she is acting this way. I can't help but feel she might be traumatized. Would you guys continue to use a crate after this incident? I feel I should shut her into my bathroom from now on. I don't have any other rooms that I could fully puppy proof without putting fences and gates up everywhere.

19th June 2011, 08:17 PM
Oh dear! Poor baby and poor you! That must have been very frightening. I think that crates are fairly safe, but sometimes I wonder about the wire type crates. I once fostered a dog who actually managed to BEND and chew the wires! I would make sure the crate is thick, sturdy and secure, maybe even a plastic one would be better. I hope you all are recovering and poor Coco is not traumatized from the experience.

19th June 2011, 09:02 PM
If she was that determined to get out, she might be happier in a pen than a crate. Clancy loathed being crated as a puppy, but was fine with his x-pen. Plenty of room for bed, toys, bowls, and a piddle pad if need be. I'm now using it for Oliver.

20th June 2011, 04:46 AM
When Nalu was a puppy she was in a crate during the day while we were at work. It was on a short table just high enough so she could entertain herself watching the birds or squirrels. One day we came home to find the crate on the floor. I have no idea what could have caused it to fall off the table. Maybe something frightened her. Maybe she saw a bear outside and went ballistic enough to push herself overboard. After that incident I put her in a pen, making sure to pad it so she wouldn't bite the metal. I wish I would have just set up a little den for her in a gated room.

21st June 2011, 01:56 PM
Yes, crates can be dangerous for exactly this reason... and this is one reason not to crate dogs alone for long periods -- a safe small room that is set up and comfortable is much better. She seems to be distressed at being confined (thus the escaping and the fact that she must have been gnawing at the bars trying to get out of her crate -- some dogs become very anxious when crated). Also remove collars on crated dogs -- they can hang themselves.

You are very lucky -- I have heard of dogs dying or seriously harming themselves in such situations. :(

I really hate crating as anything except a short term daytime management tool and for safe nighttime sleeping (for dogs that are definitely, comfortably crate trained and are happy in a crate at night). On a separate but related general issue, I have always found it increasingly disturbing that especially in the US there's a tendency for trainers and others to recommend crating dogs for long periods as a norm and as perfectly OK, even full work days -- meaning the dog gets only a few hours free each workday before bedtime (which again often means being crated). This can only give a dog a very poor quality of life, to be held in a cage that is greatly smaller than a zoo animal of equivalent size would have. :(

If Coco is this anxious in a crate, she isn't really crate trained and may not really be a safe candidate (I sure wouldn't risk closing her in again) -- it sounds like either boredom or panic at being enclosed would have set up this situation. I'd definitely figure out a safe alternative that won't involve confining (climbing out over a pen is dangerous for similar reasons so sounds like neither is an option).

I really encourage people to consider other safe, indoor options for managing dogs when people are out.

Personally I would get a dog after such an incident immediately to a vet -- especially if she continues to act a bit off or unusual -- I'd want her jaw and teeth checked.

21st June 2011, 02:44 PM
I'm sorry to hear about what happened. That is truly scary!
I am finding the opposite problem. Toby seems to be ok and will lay down to sleep in his crate but the moment he is in his playpen area alone he is whining and biting the playpen to get out. I've never crate trained a dog before so this is strange to me. I thought he would be more comfortable in a playpen area where he can move around and play. I need to get him used to the playpen area but I am unsure how. I sit in there with him to play and he is ok with that but the moment I leave him in there alone he freaks out. I guess he feels safer in the crate.

21st June 2011, 07:13 PM
Omgosh....I would be worried about placing her in a crate after that as well. Poor girl. However, perhaps she will never try to escape again?

I don't know what I would do. I rely on my crates alot. This is the first I have heard something like this happening, but I guess if any dog is determined enough they could hurt themselves trying to get loose. If she is house broke I would try leaving her out by herself. I can leave some of my dogs loose when I leave, no harm done, a couple dogs need crated while I am out because of seperation anxiety. They destroy the house when I leave so I don't have any other option.

21st June 2011, 07:53 PM
The strange thing is is that she is always HAPPY to go into her crate! As a pup she would go in there and never whined. I think with her age she is just becoming more anxious. Once she has figured out how to get out of her pen, she has realized if she tries she can escape from other things. I don't think I will be using the crate anymore just in case. So far shutting her in my bathroom is working very well, I leave some toys, a bed, and water in there for her.

Her jaw and teeth are fine, she is not sensitive around the area and can eat crunchy food ok. I have been keeping an eye out for swelling and none so far. She is not acting sheepish anymore thankfully, she must have just been so confused about why that all happened. My poor baby :( And it was only 4 hours in there too!

Jasper and Holly
22nd June 2011, 04:19 AM
Alisha, I remember you saying she escaped from the pen by climbing on top of the crate that was in the pen is that right? Did you put her in the bathroom in the crate and not in the same room as she was when she was in the pen? I am just thinking maybe if you put her somewhere she wasn't used to being like the bathroom maybe that's what made her anxious. I do agree with Karlin being put in a crate for long periods is not good quality of life for a dog. Hopefully she will not get into any mischief in your bathroom. Just make sure she can't get to anything that can be a danger to her. Poor Coco. She obviously missing you while you are away. You'll have to make sure you don't make a big fuss when you come home as I've been told that can cause them to stress while you are out?It sounds like you have an open plan house? Is it not possible to arrange your furniture so you can give her a space for herself without any escape routes! Hope she's feeling better.

22nd June 2011, 05:42 AM
Awe, poor little Coco! I know you must feel awful, but it is not your fault. You are such a good mom to Coco and she loves you very much. We all learn things as we go along and I think you and Coco probably learned a little on this one too. I would have never thought that a dog could get stuck like that! Brooklyn sleeps in a crate, but during the day, she is behind the baby gate or out back if I am not home (but I am usually around or only gone for max 4 hours). I have an open floor plan too...such a pain with puppies!! But I got really crafty with baby gates, they make extra long ones...wide enough for a huge room! It does not make the space look super fashionable, but once they are a year to two years old and you can trust that they are well potty trained, you should be able to take them up.

Give Coco a big hug for me! And a big hug to you too...must have been so scary for you to see. :hug:

22nd June 2011, 08:57 AM
I have kept multiple dogs for 28 years now. All have had wire crates, with soft crates at show sometimes, and all have been happy and safe. I do voluntary work for a few hours each week, plus I have to go shopping or sometimes lunch out with friends. The dogs are always crated. When I take one or two to show for the day, the others are in their various crates. I have never had a problem. When I am out for more than 3 or 4 hours my neighbour will look in to give the dogs a cuddle, a drink of water and a run in the garden. She has never reported any distress or accidents of any kind.

On the other hand, when I left dogs with access to several rooms during the day, twice I came home to find Victoria and her son Dougal had destuffed one of the sofas. My lot have always been crated since then.

The only minor problem I have had is with Winston Alexander teaching himself to escape from crates. Thought I had found the answer by padlocking him in. Next morning the lock had been turned to face the inside of the cage and the key was missing. Fortunately I had another. I found the key under the Vetbed in the furthest corner of the six dog crate. Since then I have taken the key out of the lock and left it on the audio stand a couple of feet away from the cage. Maybe it's a tricolour thing :confused:;)

22nd June 2011, 10:31 AM
We have our 2 year old tri cavalier Waldo about 4 months now and we have never had to use a crate or pen -he has free access to the kitchen and sitting room while we are away, and so far he has had not a single toilet related accident; he doesn't chew or destroy anything he is not supposed to, and there is no evidence of separation anxiety whatsoever.

He is a rescue dog, so we are incredibly lucky as he has been this well behaved since day one.

He is on his own for about 4 hours most week days, but we ensure he gets a walk in the morning and a longer one in the evening and the routine really helps. I did use a pen with my previous cavaliers -they were not so well behaved! I do really dislike the idea of using a crate to confine dogs for long periods on a regular basis -to be stuck in that small space for 8 hours+ just seems wrong to me -bad enough leaving such a social animal for an extended period on a regular basis without also having them caged in a tiny area.

Crating seems to be promoted by well respected trainers as an essential and positive part of your dogs training, and I can see where it canbe used to good effect. The worry would be that it would give licence to dog owners to leave their dogs locked up for long periods every day, thinking that this is some way ok and right because it has been endorsed by well respected professionals.

22nd June 2011, 04:53 PM
omg that sounds so scary !! hope you are both recovered now :hug:i crate trained ruby from day one and would leave her in it if i went out for an hour or so , mainly to keep her safe from the cat ! as she got bigger i would leave her in the living room , i had a long gate separating it from the dining room and kitchen (its all open ) and she would just sleep (i think!)... i was lucky she never chewed a thing , if i caught her at it wen a pup i said NO sharply and clapped my hands , think that taught her for life! i now let her have the run of the house but i know she doesnt actually move off the couch wen im gone ,ive usually tired her out beforehand and shes zonked . can u set up a room where she can play and have toys , 4 hours is a long time to expect her to sleep , and if shes not sleeping in a crate , whats she doing ? is there room to play with toys in there? good luck i hope you find an answer.

23rd June 2011, 03:03 AM
Nalu loves being free of her crate now that she's older. I removed the door to see if she'd still need it at times but she didn't seem interested. I still use if for her when she's in the car. Do people have any better ways of transporting them in vehicles?

23rd June 2011, 04:08 AM
Nalu loves being free of her crate now that she's older. I removed the door to see if she'd still need it at times but she didn't seem interested. I still use if for her when she's in the car. Do people have any better ways of transporting them in vehicles?

There are doggie car seats and seat belts! The larger dogs wear a soft harness that a seat belt slips through, and small dogs sit in a booster seat with a soft harness hooked to the seat, and the seat belt goes through the booster seat...pretty much just like a child carseat :) Wow I said the word "seat" a lot lol.