How Long is Too Long to Crate a Dog?

Crates are often used, but it is unfortunate that they are also misused. Learn how much is too much time in the crate, and how to make your dog love it.

Crates: the world seems to be split in half when it comes to their use. Are they truly comfortable dens or are they more likely little prison cells? Only dogs could ultimately tell, and even though dogs cannot talk to give you their opinion, a lot can be told by simply watching their behavior. Does your dog happily go in its crate or do you have to shove him in? If left at home with the crate door open, will your dog take a nap in it? Does your dog whine upon closing the crate door? These are important questions to ask.

Crate Use: How Much is Too Much?

Every morning the routine is the same. You take your dog for an early morning stroll, then have breakfast, take a shower, close your pooch into the crate and head to work. Your full-time job keeps you away from the house each day between six to eight hours. This does not include your commute and the extra minutes spent talking with a co-worker or being stuck in a traffic jam.

Then you finally come home, open the crate, take your dog to do its business and prepare dinner. By the time you eat, undress and get ready to go to bed, it is time to close Rover in the crate again. Rover complies but starts whining after a few minutes. What is up with him, lately?

 

If you think about it, eight hours closed while at work and eight hours closed in the night make it 16 hours total. In a 24 hour day, therefore, that’s two-thirds of the day spent in the crate. Now, imagine staying in a room big enough to allow you to stand up and turn around for 16 hours a day and you may get the picture.

Rover therefore may be resenting the crate, something common when crates technically become a storage facility for a dog and this could explain why lately he has been developing a reluctance to fall asleep. In his mind it feels so good to be finally with you (he’s been ultimately waiting for you all day) and to be able to enjoy more space, that falling asleep is just a waste of time!

So how much time is too much time in the crate? The answer to this really varies. Six hours in a crate may feel like a very long time for a young high-energy dog with lots of pent up energy, whereas, a mellower and perhaps older dog may do just fine napping for that same time.

If you are looking for a more concrete answer, Jennifer Messer a veterinarian who writes for Modern Dog Magazine claims that as a good rule of thumb, dogs could be crated overnight for up to half of the day as long as its social and physical needs are being met while not in the crate.

Alternatives to Crate Training

The Humane Society of the United States claims that crates are not magical solutions and that if not used correctly, dogs may feel frustrated and trapped. The website points out that dogs crated day and night most likely lack from getting sufficient exercise and human interaction causing the dog to feel depressed or anxious. Ultimately, owners should therefore crate their dogs only until they can be trusted not to destroy the house, after that, it should be a place the dog goes happily and voluntarily.

If you suspect your dog may be spending too many hours in the crate, you may consider the following alternative options:

  • Taking your dog to a doggy-daycare center while you are at work
  • Hiring a dog walker to stop by midday
  • Getting a pet sitter to watch your dog
  • Asking a neighbor to come over and keep your dog company
  • Keeping your dog in a safe room with the crate door open as an invitation to nap

A cozy place to sleep in, enjoy a toy, and eat tasty treats…these should be the amenities your dog will look for in a crate. If your dog thinks otherwise, chances are the crate is likely being misused.

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