Conditioning your dog to be crated is something that can greatly benefit you and your dog! However, there are those situations where crating a dog can lead to problems. But, when you take the time to get your dog properly crate trained, leaving your dog in a crate for a lengthy amount of time is not cruel, but provides a sense of security for your pooch.
Now, there are many benefits to crate training your dog and being able to crate them while you are away. However, it must be said that owners should never leave their dogs crated all day and all night. Dogs need to spend time with their families, plus they need to exercise. Some dogs need to be crated while their family is away. Dogs with separation anxiety will feel much safer when crated while you’re out. Puppies that may chew or otherwise be destructive are best left at home crated.
Many times, pet parents can crate puppies that are being housebroken or “in the chewing stage” of puppyhood and slowly work up to a point where the dog can be left in an enclosure rather than remaining crated all day. However, some dogs actually prefer to be crated – particularly if you work a full day and the dog deals with separation anxiety.
Crate training takes time. There are some dogs who will take to their crate with no issues; other pups may need to be conditioned to the crate. The key to making crate training successful and something your dog may even enjoy lies in how you carry out crate training.
Begin by making the introduction to the crate something positive.
You should slowly introduce your puppy to the dog crate. Remove the door, place a familiar blanket and maybe a toy inside. Speak in happy tones while you let Fido inspect the crate. Now, if you’re lucky, your pup will just hop on in and take the crate over as “his spot” right away!
However, your dog is likely to be a little apprehensive at first. No worries – there are a few tricks for winning Fido over to entering the crate. First, you may want to “make a treat trail” around and into the doorway of the crate. Again, speak in happy tones and give your pup plenty of praise for even this “puppy” step in crate training.
NOTE: I personally prefer using a metal crate or heavy-duty dog crates that appears as if it’s crafted out of wire for crate training a puppy. Puppies can see you and hear you even when you leave them in another room. This seems to be more comfortable for the pup-in-training.
Once you sense your pup is comfortable around the crate, try throwing a few treats in the crate itself. Encourage your puppy to go in after the treats, and give her lots of praise for being brave.
Sometimes, your puppy may need several tries over a multiple-day period to get comfortable enough to enter the crate on her own. That’s perfectly fine!
Once your puppy has mastered going in and out of the crate without the door attached, then you can graduate to conditioning him to stay in the crate with the door closed. Now, it’s very important that you do NOT jump from throwing treats in the crate and letting him go in and out without a door on the crate to leaving him at home all day in a locked crate. You will need to be at home for the second stage in crate training a dog.
When you are teaching Fido that it’s ok to stay in the crate, you’ll want to put the door back on the crate, and you’ll want to place the crate in a room that you can leave (the trick here is to get out of Fido’s sight for a few minutes).
The first few times you shut the door to the crate, stay close, and stay in a position where Fido can still see you. At this point, it’s a good idea NOT to make a big deal of opening the door and allowing Fido back out. Some experts believe that this may actually lead to separation anxiety. Your pup may see the cage as a means of being away from you or as a place that means he’ll be separated from you. So, it’s best to simply open the door and let Fido out to roam as if it’s no big deal.
Now, once your dog seems comfortable going in and out of the crate in your presence, plan for a ten-minute session in which you will sit beside Fido’s crate for a bit, then you leave the room for a minute or two. Monitor Fido’s actions at this time. If your dog can deal with your leaving the room without getting whiny or otherwise stressed, you can begin to lengthen the time you’re away from him. Work up to Fido’s sitting in the crate for ten minutes. When your dog can handle this short amount of time in the crate without your presence, you can begin to increase the time he’s left in the crate.
Even though your furry pal has accomplished a lot at this point, it’s still not time to crate your dog all day.
Start to crate your dog for thirty minutes while you might run to the mailbox or go out for a quick errand. After a few successful sessions of this, then lengthen that time to forty-five minutes. Every few days, add another fifteen minutes to crate time until you feel your pup will be okay to stay in a crate while you’re away at work or out for a few hours.
Is it wise to crate my dog overnight?
Certainly! Once your dog is comfortable to stay in a crate, she may actually choose to sleep there!
Remember, it is very important to allow your dog time out of the crate. All dogs need exercise – even the laid-back hounds that could sleep all day! Plus, your dog needs to spend time with you. No matter how much your dog enjoys her crate, this does not make up for time with her beloved family.
What are some benefits to crate training my dog?
First, those who promote the idea of crating your dog state that dogs are traditionally den-dwelling dogs. This means they like enclosed areas where they feel safe and out of the elements.
Some dogs with separation anxiety (read: they tend to be destructive while you are away, even for a short time) greatly benefit from the safety and security of a crate while you’re at work or running errands. It’s also never too late to learn how to crate train an older dog with separation anxiety.
Should you need to transport your dog – whether it’s in a car or even flying in a plane – he’ll need to be crated. Use the portable & travel dog crate for this purpose. Airlines require your dog to be crated at all times, and it’s better for a puppy to learn how to accept a crate than to teach an older dog. Traveling in a car or other motor vehicle is safer for your dog when she is crated .
Some vets will require you to crate your dog after a medical procedure. Again, crate training your dog as a puppy is much easier than expecting an older dog to accept crating.
Does your dog get excited when company arrives? Does she jump on guests? Now, I don’t advocate crating your dog to satisfy your guests’ desires; however, if your company brought over a small child, you’d want your exuberant pup to behave, right? Crating your puppy in these situations can prevent an accident (and save friendships!)
Finally, dogs will not soil the area where they sleep. This makes the kennel or crate a perfect place for potty training! (Pro Tip: The metal crates mentioned previously often have removable trays under the bottom of the crate – you can place a puppy pad there just in case, and in that event, you can remove the tray, clean it, and place a clean puppy pad there.)
Does size matter?
In this case, yes! The experts will tell you that the crate should only be big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around. However, if you leave your dog in the crate while you are away at work, the larger crate can allow for food and water attachments.
Another reason you might choose a larger crate has to do with potty training and you’re being away at work. If you must be gone during the day, your puppy will have an area in the larger crate to use the bathroom without soiling his sleeping area.
Consider the size your puppy will be as an adult dog. This should be the deciding factor in the size of the crate that you choose—see our ultimate guide to dog crate sizes.
Leaving your dog for long periods of time
Before you leave your dog in his crate for eight or more hours (the typical workday), be sure that he has accepted the crate. Leave his blanket and a few toys in his crate as well. Boredom can be very stressful for a dog!
Of course, you’ll also want to make sure Fido has access to water. You can purchase bottles specifically made to hang down from the top of the crate that give Fido water without allowing him to make a mess. (Unfortunately, even when you have a large dog crate, he will inevitably turn the unattached water bowl over.) There are also special-made feeders that will easily attach to your dog’s crate.
Some pet parents have to work, and they have no choice but to crate their dogs while they’re away. A good compromise is to put the crate inside an enclosure with the crate’s door open. That way, your fur baby can come in and out of the crate as she sees fit. Toys inside the enclosure can give her some activity so that she does not become bored.
Finally, always take your dog out of the crate when you return home for a bathroom break as well as some exercise! Crating isn’t cruel if the dog accepts the crate as a safe space and you provide plenty of time outside the crate to exercise and spend time with the family.
1. Is it cruel to crate a dog while at work?
Not at all, as long as your dog has accepted the crate as a place to feel secure. Some dogs, particularly those with separation anxiety, actually prefer to be crated while their owners are away.
2. Can I crate my dog for 12 hours?
You can, but this is an extremely long time to do so. Dogs typically can’t hold their bladders that long. Remember, a dog won’t use the bathroom where it sleeps, so the dog may have an accident. He could come to view the crate as a negative place if this happens often.
3. Can you leave a dog in a crate all day?
You can, but it’s not a good idea. Dogs need proper exercise and potty breaks. If you must be gone during the day and have no choice, provide a puppy pad for your dog, plenty of water, and food as well as a few toys.
4. Is it cruel to crate a dog at night?
Not at all! Some dogs love their crates and will voluntarily sleep there.