All pet parents ponder over what to do with their dog or puppy while at work. Your furry friends can get lonely or anxious and make a big mess. You can keep your pooch safe and comfortable while you’re at work by crate training a dog or a puppy. Many people don’t prefer this method and consider it cruel. Yet, when done right, puppy crate training can be a solution for leaving a dog home alone.
Leaving a Puppy Home Alone in a Crate
Leaving a puppy home alone in a crate is recommended by dog trainers and vets. Crate training a puppy can help with house training and preventing destructive behavior. Healthy dogs won’t eliminate where they sleep. You can use this to potty train a puppy when you work. Leave a puppy in a crate to sleep and then take him for a walk as soon as he’s up. When he gets outside, he will eliminate, and you can reward him to make the behavior stick. Also, puppies need to learn proper manners. Not destroying your personal items, carpets, and furniture is a start. Leaving your fur-friend in a crate can prevent these destructive behaviors while you are not home.
Safety and Time Concerns When Crate Training a Puppy
Another reason you should leave a puppy home alone in a crate is safety. Once they get used to the crate, it will give them a sense of safety. Other than that, they won’t be able to hurt themselves while in a crate. There will be no electric cables to chew on and nothing they can choke on.
The biggest concern with puppy crate training is the time they spend in the crate. Leaving a puppy alone for eight hours is not good for young puppies. How long a puppy can stay in a crate depends on their age and one rule of thumb is to keep the duration to about one hour for each month of age. That means that a four-month-old puppy can stay in a crate for about four hours. See the next section for a more detailed table.
How Long Should a Dog/Puppy Be in a Crate?
Most owners wonder how long should a puppy be in a crate. See the table below to help you determine how long you can crate your dog, based on their age.
|Dog’s age||Maximum time in a crate|
|8-10 weeks||30-60 minutes|
|11-14 weeks||1-3 hours|
|15-16 weeks||3-4 hours|
|17+ weeks||4-5 hours|
|Adult healthy dogs||8 hours|
What To Consider
The table above is an aid and not a definitive guide for many reasons. First of all, young puppies demand a lot of attention, and they can’t hold their bladder very long. Give them lots of attention and play time. Also, make sure you potty train them and take them outside more often.
If you have to work an 8-hour shift, your puppy can’t stay in the crate that long. Try to figure out a way to give them a mid-day break from the crate. Take them out for a walk so they can stretch their legs and do their business. If you can’t do this yourself, see if someone else can do it for you or consider hiring a dog walker.
If your furry friend is sick and can’t hold it in, crate time should go down. Most adult, healthy dogs can stay in a crate for up to 8 hours. Still, it’s not the best practice to leave them alone for this long every day. Give them lots of love and exercise while you are home and make sure take them somewhere nice on weekends.
When You Should Re-Consider Crate Training
These crate time guidelines don’t apply to all dogs. Some breeds need more activity and attention than others and some dogs don’t handle crates well. If not introduced properly, some dogs get anxious about their crates. When raising a puppy, try to make crates their happy place and not punishment. If your dog starts to panic around and inside of their crate or has separation anxiety, you should avoid using a crate. Leaving a dog in a crate for 12 hours straight, especially on a daily basis, is considered cruel.
Puppy Crate Training While at Work
Puppy crate training is a good option for leaving a dog home alone.
Start With Choosing The Right Crate For Your Dog
Get a plastic or a metal crate because they are more durable, and your dog won’t be able to chew through them. While some dogs appreciate their privacy and do well in plastic crates with a grate in the front, breeds such as bulldogs or pugs will do better with more ventilation in a metal crate.
Puppy crate training requires a perfect size crate. If it’s too small, your dog won’t be able to stand up, turn around, or lie down comfortably. If it’s too big, the pup might eliminate in the crate and sleep on the other side. This would not lend well to potty training a puppy when you work.
Make The Crate A Happy Place
Make the crate comfortable for your puppy by padding the floor. Put some treats or your dog’s favorite food inside, along with his favorite toy. Water is a must, and some suggest using a water dispenser, so your puppy doesn’t accidentally spill the water from a bowl. After all, he’s not going to be comfortable lying in a puddle!
Take the dog for a walk before and after leaving them in a crate so they don’t have accidents in the crate. This will also give them some exercise before having a nice rest in their safe haven. Once your dog learns that the crate is a safe, happy place, they will like spending time there, and you won’t have problems. On the other hand, if the crate is uncomfortable and used as punishment, your dog will hate it. Not to mention that the wrong size crate can damage their joints and health.
Alternatives To Puppy Crate Training While At Work
If you’re still not a big fan of crates, there are plenty of alternatives for leaving your dog home alone while at work.
Going To Work With A Dog
The first alternative is, take your dog to work with you! If your workplace is pet-friendly and your pooch is well-behaved, there is no reason not to bring them with you when you are working long shifts. Not to mention that bringing a puppy to work can do wonders for workplace morale!
If you can’t take your dog to work, always keep in mind that your dog needs proper daily exercise, access to water and some treats, and needs to stay safe while you are away.
Get A Dog Walker Or A Sitter
Whether you’re leaving a dog in a crate or letting them roam the premises, make sure you walk them before you go and as soon as you get back. If you’re gone for 8 hours or more every day, consider getting some help. Have a friend, a family member or a dog walker drop by while your dog is home alone. Taking your pup to a doggie daycare is also a good alternative.
Make Things Fun
To keep your pooch busy while you are gone, you can get them a self-fetching toy, a Kong toy, or a shuffle bone that won’t splinter. You can stuff a Kong toy with treats and freeze it to keep your dog entertained for hours.
You can also hide treats around the house for your dog to search for. Some dogs like to watch TV or listen to the radio so you can leave it on for them. If your dog is very lonely, it might be a good idea to get another pet, so they have someone to play with.
Playpens and Fence Gates
Alternatives to dog crates are playpens and fence gates. But if you go to YouTube, you'd see how many dogs have found a way to bypass these obstacles. At best, they will just jump over them or squeeze through. At worst, they can get stuck or injured. There are sure to be some little daredevils who will regain their freedom. There’s no doubt that hiring a dog sitter or taking your pup to a doggie daycare are good alternatives.
Should I Crate My Dog?
If you have a happy, healthy, well-adjusted dog, there’s no reason not to consider crating them during the day. Some dogs even like their crates and the coziness and privacy they bring. That said, some dogs handle crates better than others. This also depends on your dog’s personality, energy levels, and habits.
Dogs Are Not Den Animals?
Most people argue that dogs aren’t den animals and so they shouldn’t be crated for long periods of time. Yet, moms and their pups, as well as sick and injured dogs, actually search for comfy, secluded, safe places to rest. So, the argument that dogs aren’t den animals isn’t entirely true.
You Should Not Crate Your Dog When:
- You don’t have the right size crate
- Your dog gets separation anxiety when you are away
- Your dog is vomiting or has diarrhea
- You will be away for more than 4-5 hours if you have a puppy or more than 8 hours if you have an adult dog
- Your dog damages the crate in attempts to escape
- Your dog howls and barks for long periods while in a crate
- Your dog eliminates in the crate
- You haven’t walked your pet before crating them
- The temperature is not right (too hot or too cold)
When done right, puppy crate training is a viable solution. Yet, if you have to leave a dog home alone for long periods of time every day, you might want to consider taking your dog to work, hiring a dog walker, or taking your pooch to a doggie daycare.
Is it cruel to crate train a dog?
Some consider crate training cruel, including some dog trainers and PETA. But, your dog can be in more danger when they are home alone. This is especially true for puppies who might chew something they shouldn’t, fall down the stairs, or get injured otherwise.
When done right, puppy crate training is a safer alternative, and your dog might even love their crate.
How long is too long to leave a dog in a crate?
Leaving a puppy alone while at work for 8 hours is unacceptable. You can leave a puppy in a crate for a maximum of 5 hours straight, depending on their age. Adult dogs can handle up to 8 hours of confinement, but it shouldn’t be an everyday thing.
How long is it okay to leave a dog in a crate?
Adult dogs shouldn’t be left in crates for more than 6-8 hours. Puppies of 17 weeks and older can handle up to 4 or 5 hours in a crate at a time. Leaving a dog home alone in a crate longer than this can hurt their mental and physical health.
What type of dog can be left alone during the day?
Some breeds are more self-sufficient and can do just fine when left alone. These include:
- French Bulldog
- Boston Terrier
- Bull Terrier
- Basset Hound
- Labrador Retriever
- Golden Retriever
- Shiba Inu
- Akita Inu
- Shar Pei
- Chow Chow
How long can a dog be left alone during the day?
Some dogs can be left alone for up to 10 hours during the day and not make a scene. However, you shouldn’t do it often. And when you have to, set up a pee pad, enough water, and some food or treats.
How long can a puppy be left alone during the day?
How long can a puppy be left alone during the day depends on their age. The younger the puppy, the shorter the interval. It’s best not to leave puppies alone for more than two hours during the day.
Can you leave a dog home alone overnight?
If you have a puppy, you shouldn’t leave them alone overnight. The same goes for dogs with separation anxiety. Some dogs might do okay, but this is not something that is recommended.