How Long Can I Keep My Dog in a Crate?
Dogs can be whimsical companions – with some of them you never know what shenanigans they’re going to get up to next.
The internet is full of videos featuring half-eaten dinners, chewed-up living room furniture and the deceptively innocent stares of the canine perpetrators of these avoidable crimes.
The rest of us might get a good laugh out of such things, but owners aren’t laughing.
One way incidents like that can be prevented is by using a dog create. A dog crate’s usefulness as a short-term deterrent can’t be denied, but what about the long term? How long should you keep your dog inside one of these crates, and is it actually humane to do so? Read on to get the answers.
Crating Done Right
Almost any dog can be crated, and how long for depends on a few inherent factors, like the characteristics and personality of its breed, but can also be extended by your own actions, taken at the appropriate time.
You wouldn’t want to coup up a terrified dog that’s never been introduced to a crate for hours in one, would you? An acclimation period is called for, and the sooner you start getting your pup used to the idea that they’ll have to spend a while in that peculiar box from time to time, the easier it will come to them.
Naturally, you can’t expect a puppy to be able to keep still inside such a relatively small space for long. It’s generally accepted that dogs up to 10 weeks old can spend half an hour to an hour max inside a dog crate without feeling cranky or starting to act out.
This time limit gradually increases as the dog gets older; puppies as young as 14 weeks old can tolerate being inside a crate for three hours. This period can be extended an hour more a month from then, culminating in about 5 hours when the dog reaches adulthood.
You’ll want to gradually get the dog used to spending time in the crate. Start by playing with the dog while they are inside the crate. This will give them a sense of security and make the first memories it associates with the crate happy ones.
During the training period, make sure that the door to the crate is open at all times at first, and then keep it closed for increasingly longer periods shortly thereafter.
The initial sense of freedom will make the pup much less hesitant to return to the crate and extending the time of confinement by 5 minutes every so often until you reach the recommended duration for its age is a surefire way for them to take it more naturally once the time comes when you really need them to.
Crating Your Dog for Long Time Periods
Most professionals agree that five hours per day of confinement shouldn’t be exceeded, not counting the dog’s resting period since its bodily functions slow down during that time. Still, people need to work and not everyone can afford to hire a dog sitter. Your best bet is to have a family member or someone else you trust check on the dog to see how it’s doing.
Keep in mind that even with one-time supervision from a human, the dog will still be left inside the crate for two periods of 3+ hours each work day, which may start to become a problem on the dog’s emotional and psychological level if you don’t approach the issue seriously and with a plan.
Make it a point to spend a sizeable chunk of time with your dog before and after crating. If you take them for a vigorous walk in the park and let them run around before it’s time to enter the crate, your dog will welcome the opportunity to get some shuteye and the time will fly by faster. Once the endless waiting is finally over, the dog’s good behavior should be rewarded with another bout of attention and play.
Even though it would be best to train your pet to love and look forward to spending time in their dog crate, even getting them to tolerate being inside for the time it takes to attend to other things that are on your agenda or to foster in it positive behavioral change is also quite an accomplishment.
Just keep in mind that your dog is a living being with its own personality and very real ideas on what constitutes mistreatment. Observe the dog’s behavior when inside the crate; this will be your most clear indication of how they are currently feeling and whether or not they’ve had enough.
Learn to recognize the shifts in their disposition and try to act on them within reason. Doing this will greatly help in maintaining a balance between your dog’s well-being and the realities of life that sometimes force them to be in its crate even if they don’t feel like it.