If you’re anything like us, you’d LOVE to have your dog with you all day. Unfortunately, there are times when you need to leave your dog at home, and in some cases, crate them.
With the right training, a crate can be a safe haven for your pup – a space to relax, unwind, and enjoy some alone time when you’re doing other things.
But how long is too long to leave your dog in a crate? Can you leave them crated all day?
In this article, we’ll be walking through the do’s and don’ts of crating dogs, and finding out how long you should be leaving your dog crated on its own.
Is It Safe To Crate A Dog?
Yes – when crated safely, most adult dogs (and even puppies) can be left in their crates for long periods of time.
Crates are useful training tools, safe spaces for older dogs, and they can be great when you need to leave the house and can’t trust your dog to roam around freely.
If your dog is unfamiliar with a crate, you shouldn’t expect them to enjoy it straight away.
All dogs will require some form of crate training prior to being left in the crate for long periods of time – if you don’t do this, you may cause your dog to become stressed and anxious.
Building positive associations between your dog and its crate is imperative for successful crate training.
Where Should You Put A Dog’s Crate?
The exact positioning of your dog’s crate will depend on the layout of your home, and your dog’s preferences. If your dog is still being crate trained or a puppy, it will often prefer its crate to be in close proximity to its owners.
However, once your dog is fully crate trained, it will usually be fine to be left alone in another room, unless it’s also suffering from separation anxiety (see also ‘8 Steps to Crate Training a Rescue Dog‘).
Wherever you decide to put your dog’s crate, there are a few things you’ll need to do to ensure it has a comfortable experience:
- Avoid direct sunlight
- Keep the temperature controlled by avoiding drafty areas, and don’t place the crate too close to cooling vents, radiators, or fireplaces
- Don’t put the crate close to power cords
- Avoid keeping toxic house plants within reach of your dog’s crate
- Line the crate with a dog bed mat, blankets, a water bowl, and safe toys (see also ‘Is It Better For Dogs To Sleep In A Crate Or A Bed?‘)
- Place a kong or interactive feeder in the crate for extra enrichment
How Long Can You Leave A Dog In A Crate?
The answer to this question often depends on how well-trained your dog is. If you’re at the beginning stages of crate training, your dog may not be comfortable being left for any longer than a few minutes.
If you’re still in the process of crate training, you should NOT attempt to leave your dog alone in a locked crate for hours on end.
If you have a crate-trained puppy, it may be able to be left for up to four hours unattended in a crate.
This advice applies to puppies over the age of 17 weeks only – puppies younger than this are likely to need more frequent toilet trips, feeding, and may not be trained enough to deal with being left for long periods.
Successfully crate-trained adult dogs shouldn’t be left for any longer than 6-8 hours in a crate. Although some dogs may be able to handle an extra hour or two, it’s not advised.
Leaving your dog alone consistently for long periods can be harmful to its emotional and physical health.
How To Crate A Dog For Long Periods (Successfully)
If you need to leave your dog in a crate for between 6-8 hours a day, you’ll need to take the appropriate measures to ensure it’s comfortable and safe.
Here are a few things you should consider before leaving your dog crated for long periods.
Dogs need both mental and physical stimulation to feel positive, calm, and to prevent boredom and anxiety.
Before you crate your dog for the day, take it for an enriching walk, or have a long play session beforehand.
The longer the walk, the more satisfied your dog will be – ideally, you should walk your dog for half an hour or more before leaving them crated, however, this guidance may vary depending on your dog’s age, health, and fitness levels.
Once you’ve returned from a long day away from your pup, you should also consider giving them an extra walk or a play session.
If your dog has not had any visitors during the day, it will likely need some extra mental and physical stimulation before the day is up.
2. Food And Water
Ideally, your dog should not be left unattended with a full meal in its crate. If you can, get your dog in the routine of eating meals before and after your time away from them.
However, it is possible to leave safe and enriching treats in their crate. Kongs or puzzle feeders can be a satisfying treat for your dog and offer mental stimulation while lowering anxiety.
If you’re leaving your dog for long periods, you should ensure they have access to water.
Ensure the crate is large enough to keep a water bowl at a reasonable distance from them (this will avoid it getting tipped over when you’re away).
3. Bedding And Toys
Ensure your dog is comfortable while you’re away by providing them with the appropriate bedding and toys.
A toy or two can alleviate boredom and keep them engaged while you’re away, and comfortable bedding will keep them warm, secure, and comfy.
Never leave squeaky, soft or stuffed toys alone with your dog, as they can present serious choking hazards. If your dog is an excessive chewer, avoid soft or stuffed bedding and stick with a Vetbed.
Most healthy, adult dogs can be crated for between 6-8 hours a day, and younger puppies can manage up to 4 hours (see also ‘How Many Hours A Day Should My Dog Be In His Crate?‘).
Ensure your crate is large, comfortable, and has access to fresh water, and make an effort to walk your dog before and after crating.