If you travel for long distances, or have to take your pooch to the vet, crates can be very useful. Crates can even give them a sense of comfort because they are den animals. But you still may be asking yourself this very question; How long can I leave my dog in a crate? So, let’s get at it.
The first point to carefully consider is the age of your dog.
How Long Can I Leave my Dog in a Crate?
An adult dog can be left in a crate for around 8 hours a day. Past eight hours is pushing it and accidents will happen. Dogs can suffer from dehydration, muscle deterioration, joint problems and boredom if they are left in too long, too often. So, make sure they have enough space to move around in and something to chew or play with while you are away.
How Long Can I Leave my Puppy in a Crate?
Puppies are a different story. They have small bladders and since they are just starting to understand the rules, crating for more than a few hours is a bad idea. especially in the beginning. Speaking from personal experience, it generally takes a month for puppies to get used to being crated. There is so much going on outside (you’re there), and so little going on inside, obviously he wants to be where the actions is. So, for the first month, do not expect too much. However there are several thoughts on the subject.
- The Humane Society of the United States of America recommends puppies under six months of age shouldn’t be crated for more than 3 ~ 4 hours at any one time.
- SPCA (New Zealand) is even more restrictive, recommending only 2 ~3 hours for puppies under six months.
- SPCA (San Francisco) provides even more restrictive guidelines.
- 8~10 weeks – 1 hour
- 11~12 weeks – 2 hours
- 13-16 weeks – 3 hours
- 20 weeks and up – 4 hours
Now, the general rule is this. Your puppies age in months equals the number of hours they can be crated after four months. At night that number can increase by fifty percent.
- four months – 6 hours
- five months – 7.5 hours
- six months – 9 hours ( but that is pushing it for any dog)
Modern Dog is much more liberal and says dog owners should calculate the dogs age in months, and that is the number of hours the pup can be crated, plus one.
Now, here is my conclusion. I do agree more so with the idea of number of months of age, equals amount of time able to spend in crate, without having to hose the crate down after they have… However, crate train your pup in increments. Try short periods of time at first. If there are no accidents, go for an hour, then two. Make your pup as comfortable as possible in his crate and watch for little accidents before leaving him/her in their crates for very long.
Should I Put My Dog In a Crate at Night?
This is a question that many dog owners have. But the answer to the question really can only be answered by… your dog. Is your dog going to destroy your house and hog the bed at night? Well, then the answer is the affirmative. But what are are the pros and cons of crating a dog at night?
- Dogs are den animals. Having a place of their very own at night, makes them feel safe.
- You may sleep more than if dog is a possible bed hog.
- Your garbage cans will remain upright at night while you sleep.
- You will not need to clean them up in the morning.
- Your belongings will stay “chew free.” Too much idle time at night for a restless pooch can be fatal for some of your belongings.
- This is part of the previous one. Your belongings will be “slobber” free.
- Cat have very busy schedules during the day. Sleep, eat, sleep, poop, sleep, pee, sleep. At night? Party time! So, crating your dog at night gives your cat the time to rule over the house and do whatever it is they do without being investigated or chased after by a bored pooch.
- The only snoring may be from your significant other and not infamous, but cute snorers like your Boston Terrier, Pug or French Bull dog.
- There may be accidents if your pooch was not given adequate bathroom time before bed.
- There may be whining or barking for attention if you have just started crate training or have not properly crate trained your dog. See my article for proper crate training, here.
- Dog may miss you, but over time they will realize the sun will come up, and master with treats will soon let them out.
- Many people like to have their dogs out at night. They can provide safety for us at night while they sleep. Therefore, burglars may go unnoticed and unchewed on by pooch who is crated at night.
- Cat may tease dog at night through the bars. But he’ll get over it.
And that’s about it. My conclusion is that crating a dog at night is a good idea. It allows your house to go undamaged, your dog his/her own little “safe” space, you more bed space, and your cat time to mock the dog through the bars.
What About Leaving a Dog in a Crate While at Work?
Yes, most of us are very busy. We need to work; who else is going to provide tasty snacks and chew toys for the dog? Certainly not the cat!
Well, dogs are social animals. They love spending their time with others, especially their owners, but if you cannot be around for 8 hours at a time, it may be a good idea to crate your dog. I can say from experience that my own dog, Yogi, was good for up to 8 hours at a time. After that, I would come home to find he had not been able to hold his bladder. So, you can do it, but try to make sure you are back in eight hours and only after your dog has been crate trained.
If you are going to leave your dog in a crate while you are at work, make sure they have plenty of room to move around in. Also, providing bedding and toys which will make their time in the crate comfortable. Some people say that you should not leave a water bowl in the cage. Dogs are clumsy and can knock it over, or drink a lot of water and have to go sooner than you can get home.
Is it cruel to leave your dog in a crate while at work?
It can be.
Yes, it can be cruel if there is another option like a dog sitter, which is always the best choice for the dog.
It can be cruel if their cage is too small to stretch, lay down or move around in if you are gone all day.
If you have to crate your dog while at work, make sure you have fed them, let them do their business and have had a good run or playtime before leaving, especially if you are going to be gone most of the day.
When you return, make sure the first thing you do is let them do their business.
Think about it this way. Have you ever gone outside, suddenly had the urge to use the bathroom, but felt like you might explode before you made there as you tried to get your keys in the door? Well, that is how a dog feels when they have been cooped up all day, without a bathroom break and you come home.
So, make sure you take care of their need to relieve themselves, the second you get in the door.
They’ll appreciate it.
Is it Cruel to Leave Your Puppy in a Crate While at Work?
As I explained earlier, puppies have a very small bladder. So if you ignore the parameters I have put forth above, have not provided sufficient space to move around in and do not provide enough mental, physical and emotional stimulation, that it can be very cruel. Puppies need to be able to roam around and have a lot of freedom for their minds and body to grow, so crating them all day while you go to work, is cruel.
However, short increments at a time, are not a problem. Puppies do need a lot of sleep anyway. Therefore crating time will be used wisely by them if not done for too long at any one time besides at night when everyone is sleeping anyway.
The Bottom Line
Crating your dog, does not have to be a cruel experience. In fact, it can be a very useful one, if done correctly and that means limiting the time they are crated as much as possible and giving them enough space to move around in. Please remember, every dog is different, so how long you can crate them is mostly dependent on them.
Recommended Dog Training Courses for Crate Training
There are two online video based training courses that I recommend.
- Doggy Dan – The Online Dog Trainer
- Brain Training for Dogs
These two courses serve two very different purposes. The Doggy Dan course is the best behavioral training course that I’ve ever used. It tackles problem behaviors like barking in ways that are innovative and kind and most of all WORK.
The Brain Training for Dogs course is a course that will help give curious and bored dogs something to do so that they don’t get destructive. Bored dogs often behave badly. The games in this course are fun to play with your dog and they go from easy to very advanced. If you think your dog is barking out of boredom this video course is a good choice.
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