In the “viral” video embedded at bottom, a dog—a Husky named Blaze—is being asked to go into his kennel, and repeatedly and audibly he says “No.” The clip is getting millions of hits, with people all over the world chuckling at the dog’s close approximation of human speech, just as the two men in the video are laughing out loud at the dog’s protestations. Everyone’s laughing at what they hear, it seems, but nobody is actually listening to the dog. In fact it’s just what Simon and Garfunkel sang about all those years ago: “People hearing without listening.”
Despite what some people will say (“my dog loves his crate; he feels so secure in it”) dogs naturally hate being penned up in kennels and crates for long periods. Who wants to be put inside a box from which you can’t escape, and inside of which you can barely move?
Of-course, before a puppy is house-trained, the necessity and utility of confining him or her in a very limited space is understandable. But after being grown up a dog doesn’t need to continue to be treated like … like some kind of animal.
People will object: “But if I go out and leave my dog loose he will get into trouble and wreck things in the house.” Unfortunately it is true that some dogs will do this, especially the younger ones. Yet, most people should be able to find an alternative to confining their dog in a crate for hours at a time, given a little effort—even while keeping the dog indoors.
What is needed is to identify and/or create a “safe” room where there is relatively little that is likely to be damaged by a nervous dog to begin with, and then making it a little safer as necessary. A bedroom is often a good option. It’s even better if your dog actually sleeps in that bedroom as a rule. This will increase its sense of security and incline it more towards sleeping while you’re away. Then, knowing your dog and its potential weaknesses, try to clear away things that might cause trouble. E.g, if your dog might chew wires, then at the very least unplug the appliances. (Tabasco sauce on wires discourages this bad habit.) If there are fragile or dangerous objects that the dog might knock down, then move them to safer locations before you leave. If your dog might opt to use newspaper or “wee-wee pads” to relieve itself in an emergency, then arrange some in a consistent location, away from any feeding area. Test your dog out by leaving it alone in the house for a short period in the safe room, before leaving it alone for hours. This might identify other potential trouble-spots.
Finally—since this all comes back to “separation anxiety”—make sure to associate your leaving with something very good for the dog. A rubber Kong toy (or similar item) containing frozen peanut butter is something most dogs will consider to be very good indeed. Giving this to your dog when you leave will keep it occupied for some long minutes afterwards, and, although no dog likes to be left alone, it will very nearly make the dog look forward to the times that you leave.
And you ought to feel much better than you would if you’d just left your dog stuck in a little box.