, Salem, MA


January 24, 2014

Ask Dog Lady: Pup’s affections make older dog run


In your “Ask Dog Lady” column, you responded to a woman whose dog was chewing everything in the house. Your advice was to keep the dog confined in a crate, in a room or behind a gate.

Consider the quality of life for this dog that nature designed to run and roam free. He will be severely confined inside a crate or at best in a room, for the vast majority of his day, with at best an hour of exercise walking on a leash. This is a lifestyle we reserve for our worst criminals in solitary confinement.

Your advice is designed to force the poor animal into a completely unnatural lifestyle for the convenience of its owner, so the owner can benefit from the dog’s loyalty and companionship. What a poor reward for such a gift.

If a person doesn’t have the proper space for a dog, the answer is not to force the dog to behave like a hamster in a cage. The answer is to not have a dog. It’s just that simple.

A: Your well-reasoned letter makes perfect sense — for you and your nonexistent dog. However, for other people and their real and beloved pets, your prison scenario isn’t the case. Many dogs are quite happy to be contained in crates or cages (the politically incorrect term for dog enclosures). These are the animals’ safe houses for peaceful solitary confinement. Crates are also effective house-training tools.

In the “Ask Dog Lady” response to the woman whose dog chewed everything, you might have also seen the sharp finger wag at the writer. She should pick up whatever she doesn’t want her dog to munch. She should substitute canine-friendly chewables so the dog learns what is permissible to mouth. We humans are responsible for our dogs’ success. We train them to live with us. We are the dunces if they flunk. Through their domesticated natures, dogs want to please us by fitting in. We should not fail them.

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