A crate is a place, where you leave a dog when there is no one to supervise it, specifically an untrained dog. As you limit the access of the dog to other objects of the house, there is no risk of any damage. There is no doubt that the crate lets the dog enjoy some quality time and relax, but crating it for too long can be dangerous, and it destroys the major purpose of leaving the dog in a crate. Usually, it is recommended to leave a dog for 4 hours in the daytime, and eight hours at night. Now leaving it in the crate for more than this span is not only inhumane, but it will disturb its potty training as little puppies are not able to control it for hours. If you ever see your puppy crying in a crate, let it out as soon as possible. However, if you are ignoring the cries, then it may forget all its training habits.
How long should the dog be in a crate?
Are you wondering that you can leave your dog in a crate for 20 hours a day? Well, the answer is a big no. on average, 6-8 hours is the maximum time one can leave his/her dog in a crate. Generally, it depends on the dog’s age that for how long it can be kept in a crate. The older is the dog, the longer is the interval. If you have to go to work, leaving the dog for more than 4 hours in the daytime is not just. Also, some people put the dog in the crate all night long, and sleep peacefully. Leaving a dog for 10 hours straight in a dog crate is also not fine at all. Well, let us have a look that which duration is recommended for which age.
Crate duration for adult dogs:
Age is not the only factor that affects the crate duration of a dog or puppy but, it depends on the dog’s nature as well. Some dogs can stay in the crate for straight 10 hours without any issue. But not every dog has that much patience. Usually, when the owner is at work, an adult dog can pass the half-day in a crate, but only when you take it for a walk and fulfil its exercise requirements after letting it out. On average, most of the dogs can spend 8 hours in a day without any disturbance. But if you are leaving the dog more than this time, then you can have to face some serious behavioural problems. Hence, if you have to work for more than 8 hours at work, it is recommended to hire a dog walker, so that your dog may stay active and its physical activity requirement is being fulfilled.
Crate duration for puppies:
Puppies are small creatures that are more sensitive than dogs, hence leaving them for too long can be inhumane in many ways. Living in a dog crate is not a way of life but a training tool. Without a good break, do not leave a pup for more than 5 hours in a crate. A puppy of age 9-10 weeks can live in a crate for 30 minutes – 2 hours. Whereas, 3 hours or less are sufficient for an 11-14 week pup. Similarly, a pup whose age is somewhere between 15-16 months, can live for 3-4 hours in a crate but, a pup that is older than 17 weeks can stay for more than 4 hours.
Crating an eight-month puppy:
Another rule for determining the ideal span for a pup in a crate is adding one hour to its age in months. So, if a puppy is eight months old, adding one hour to its age means 3 hours a day are enough for leaving the dog in the crate. But, we do not recommend leaving the pup for more than 2 hours. The minimum age at which you can start keeping the dog in the crate is 8 months.
Don’t keep a dog less than 8 months in the crate:
Before a puppy reaches the age of 9 or 10 months, it has no control over its bladder or bowel movement. Hence, leaving it in a crate at that age would be a mess. Well, if you have to do it, make sure you are cleaning it often. If not, then the poor hygienic condition of the dog can cause various skin and other diseases. Also, the house is quite a new place for the puppy, and putting it right away in the crate can be stressful.
Potty management during crating for puppies:
Who wants to make his/her house messy by letting the dog poop here and there, or even in the crate? Absolutely, no one! Hence, you should keep the track of the time that when to take the dog outside its crate. With a time interval of 2.5 to 3 hours, take the dog out of the crate to its bathroom spot. Whereas, at night, you have to get up at least 2 times, with the difference of the same interval.
How long is too long?
Well, as we have discussed all the time ranges according to the age of the dog, even an hour more than that is too much. If you have to work all day long, and then you keep the dog in the crate overnight, this is against animal rights. You surely have to make some other arrangements so that its emotional and physical needs should be accomplished.
What happens if you are crating the dog for too long?
If you are crating the dog for too long, it can cause multiple behavioural issues. The golden time of the puppy is for socialization and proper training, not for being trapped in a crate. Well, let us discuss some of the conditions, any of which can be a consequence of over-crating.
If a dog is crying or whining in a crate, there can be several reasons behind it. One of the reasons behind whining can be to get out of the crate. Well, if not much time has been passed, try ignoring it till the dog gets quiet. On the other hand, the dog may whine to get out of the crate and eliminate at its spot. To know that either this is the case, try using some phrases that are related to it. If the dog responds well, this means it wants to go to its bathroom spot. Yelling, screaming, or scolding is never a good option besides, it is negative for their behaviour.
Most people think that the dog’s separation anxiety can be handled by trapping it in a crate. Well, that’s not it! The dog may not destruct things, but it will still feel lonely and can try to injure itself. So, never try this as a solution to separation anxiety. Besides, desensitizing procedures and counter-conditioning can resolve this issue.
Keeping the dog as long as 20 hours a day in the crate can make them start to resent the crate. This will make it challenging for you to put the dog inside the crate, as the dog will resist going inside. Aggression and multiple health problems are triggered as they will not feel calm and relax inside it.
If you do not crate your dog before it is well-trained, it can damage multiple things at your house and cause destruction. Whereas, after getting fully trained, you can get the dog out and transfer it to some other open place at your home.
If you keep the dog in a crate 20 hours a day, then it will not get its exercise and activity needs to be fulfilled. As a result of which, the dog can become frustrated, bored, and most importantly, lethargic. These behavioural traits can lead to destructive habits and aggression.
Need to urinate:
Just like humans, a dog needs to urinate several times a day. If it stays 20 hours in a crate, then it would be very difficult to maintain hygiene. The entire crate will get messy. Thus, an unhygienic environment can be unhealthy for the dog.
What things should be avoided while dog crating?
While putting the dog in a crate, besides keeping the track of time, multiple things should be considered equally important for the safety of the dog. Let us have a quick overview of some of these things.
There is no need for a dog collar when the dog is inside the crate. But the major concern here is that the dog can accidentally or due to some behavioural issues, can chock itself to death by the dog collar. So, never forget to remove it before putting your dog into the crate.
A toy that can be swallowed, chewed, or ripped apart by the dog is quite unsafe. So, always make sure you are not providing the dog with any such thing that it can chock on. Such as, squeaky toys and rawhide chewies are risky. Instead, you should give them something that is nearly unbreakable such as hard rubber toys.
Never trap a dog in the crate as an act of punishment. This will create a sense of fear inside the dog, and the next time you will tell it to enter the crate, you will surely get refused. Then it will get challenging for you to keep the dog in a crate for even a few hours.
A dog is trained the way it lives. If you will keep the dog in a crate 20 hours a day, then there are a lot of chances that it may meet to accidents. Well, then it will become a habit of the dog to meet accidents wherever it goes (even when it isn’t present in the crate).
What if the dog gets stressed after staying 20 hours in a crate?
It is quite common that when you put the dog in a crate for several hours, it cries and makes efforts to get out of it. Well, in that case, the worst you can do is to listen to its cries and let the dog out. This will train the dog that, crying will let it out of the crate and the dog will start practising it. Instead, when you avoid the dog’s cry, and it gets quiet after trying hard, reward the dog for staying quiet. Some of the techniques that will prevent crying are discussed as follows:
Provide your dog something to keep it busy while crating:
If you are planning on leaving the dog in a crate, then make sure you are providing maximum things which the dog likes. These things include toys stuffed with food such as peanut butter, but not excessive. Besides, you can put their favourite chew toys in the crate. This not only makes the dog feel that the crate is a safe and comfortable place but also will remove boredom from its life.
Leave the crate open and accessible:
In the initial days, do not close the door of the crate because it can let the dog feel imprisoned. Keep the door easy to reach and accessible so that, the dog doesn’t feel awkward while entering it besides, when you later close the door, the dog will not feel anxious at all.
Take them to the crate when they are tired:
When you come back after walking your dog, it is quite tired and sleepy. This is the best condition when you should slip the dog inside the crate. At that time, nothing would matter for the dog more than sleeping peacefully. This will create a habit of sleeping inside the crate.
When not to leave a dog in a crate?
We know that leaving a dog in a crate 20 hours a day is not a good idea at all. But there are several circumstances in which, one should avoid putting the dog in the crate. Let us discuss some of these briefly!
- If the size of the crate is unfit for the dog, then don’t leave it in an uncomfortable place.
- If the dog is more likely to get separation anxiety, then don’t let it stay in the crate.
- If you are going to stay away from home for more than 5 hours, it is better to make another arrangement for the dog.
- If the dog is causing damage to the crate, then it is better to let it out to avoid destruction.
- If the dog is suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting, leaving it in the crate will not only create a mess but worsen its condition.
- If the dog is eliminating in the crate, this means it cannot control its bladder for this long hence, let it out.
- In case the temperature is either too cold or too hot, do not take the risk.
- If the physical activity need isn’t fulfilled, don’t trap the dog in the crate.
Which dogs can be left in a crate?
As mentioned above, dog crating largely depends on the nature of the dogs as well. Some of the dogs that can easily get into a crate are Boston Terrier, Akita Inu, Chow Chow, Bull terrier, Pugs, Shar Pei, Chihuahua, French Bulldog, and Basset hound.
H2: Bottom Line:
Leaving a dog in a crate 20 hours a day is not only inhumane, but also it can bring multiple negative changes in the behaviour of the dog. Also, the dog can get false training by staying inside for too long. So, never put your dog in a crate for more than 6-8 hours even if you are too busy to come back home.