Kennels Confessions: When is it OK to Lock Up Your Dog?

Warning, this may be one of my more self-indulgent posts but hear me out. A while back, my significant other and I recently had to make a last minute overnight trip out of town. Unfortunately our regular pet sitter of choice was out of town at the same time and we had no choice but taking our midsized dog, to a “Pet Hotel” on the day of our departure. Financially speaking this arrangement was a much better deal than our usual sitter, but it seemed a bit unfair to our dog, to say the least. 

Our dog was still quite young, and was not accustomed to being confined to small spaces, as he was to for much of his stay in this facility. In fact, he was still not particularly accustomed to spending, large amounts of time alone. Though my partner and I both work, one of us is often at the house. There are of course, times when we both do leave the house, and our dog is left in the backyard. These times were initial quite stressful for our dog. He has become somewhat more accustomed to them now, but still begs to be let in as I head out the front door.

He of course was noticeably shaken at this “pet hotel”, and as my partner and I left and he showed this by letting out loud whimpers. He was placed in a small fenced in area with a little wooden dog house on one in and a few square feet of floor for him to move about outside it. This small spaced was adjacent to several identical spaces occupied by other dogs of various sizes. I am told that while he was there he was fed well and was taken for a walk on at least one occasion. When we arrived to pick him up, he was happy to see us and in the times since he does not seemed to be phased by the experience at all. Dogs I am told do not have particularly good short term memories.

In spite of this, I still feel a little troubled about leaving a creature that I have cared for all this time to be imprisoned in a small space for an extended period. Dogs are intelligent creatures and ours did nothing deserve such treatment.The whole experience very much ate at the voluntarist sensibilities, which I all so often express on this blog. I think I will do whatever I can to not have to use such a facility again in the future.

That said, maybe I am a bit misguided here, as countless dogs are kept in such places while their owners are away and I don not ever hear about it making any noticeable impact on them. Also it does serve to remind me that most of us eat animals that lived in far worse conditions for far longer periods, and so few of us think anything of this. Perhaps we have significant double standards when it comes to our own pets as opposed to other animals of comparable intelligence. Zoos to are also filled with creatures that are confined, though these days I am happy to see more of them keeping animals in relatively nice simulated habitats. 

Overall, I am not too happy about the experience, though as best as I can tell my dog has forgotten it completely.  Either way I am curious if anyone else has any thoughts or guidelines as to when it is appropriate to confine their pets in such a way and under what circumstances.

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