To crate or not to crate? That is the question most of us dog owners have asked ourselves at one point or another. Whether it’s with a new puppy who needs to be housetrained or an older dog who won’t stop chewing the furniture. When we leave for work we want to feel at ease with our furry friend back at home.
But, when it comes to leaving our dogs in a crate it’s not as easy as it seems. If the crate works it can be an absolute blessing. But, if our dogs don’t take well to the crate, it can be an exhausting endeavor.
So should you crate your dog while at work? We discuss why you definitely should and shouldn’t. We also share some tips on how to properly crate your dog.
Why you would want to crate your dog while at work
We crate our dogs because we’re protective, of them, and of our stuff. We want our pups to feel safe and also be safe while we aren’t there to watch them. Especially if they’re puppies and new to our home.
We’ve all experienced walking in the door to see the insides of a new toy ripped out and spread across the floor like dandelion puffs peppering a field of grass. Imagine if that were your couch, cushions, or favorite book! Or even worse, the chocolate bar on the living room table you forgot to put away. Now we’ve gone from inconvenient to dangerous. Let’s not forget about potty training. What a nightmare!
Simply put, a new pup in our homes is a huge adjustment and a crate makes the transition that much easier. It’s also been said that if trained correctly, a dog will see the crate as a safe space similar to a den they’d call home. It seems like a win-win for everybody, which is why so many of us try it. However, like most things in life, just because it sounds good on paper doesn’t mean it works for everyone.
Concerns about putting your dog in a crate all day
Not every dog is created equal, and neither is their experience in a crate. Rescue dogs may have residual anxiety and claustrophobia from being in a small space at a rescue center. Even simpler, their personality may just not be a good fit for a confined space. Here are some potential cons to keeping your dog in a crate:
Having an accident while in the crate.
If our new pups are left for too long and can’t help themselves, they may have an accident in the crate. This experience could lead our pups to resent their new space.
Your dog sees the crate as a punishment
If your dog sees the crate as a form of punishment he may associate with a scary and negative place, which ruins the chance of him seeing it as the calm setting its meant to be.
Your dog feels too confined
Lack of freedom can create stress. If our pups are left for too long they could feel like their freedom is being taken away causing anxiety and stress. Just like us, our pups need mental and physical stimulation throughout the day.
Sores from stress licking
If our dogs get stressed they may channel that energy into stress licking. This means they’ll lick the same spot over and over until they get painful sores. That’s not fun for anybody!
Lack of Ventilation
If we leave the crate in a room that doesn’t get much ventilation our pups may not get enough air.
Pup tries to break out
If our pups try to get out of the crate and are wearing a collar it may get stuck and choke them. If they’re not wearing a collar they could still hurt themselves by chewing or banging on the crate walls.
We know what it’s like to want to protect our pups from any bad situations, but as you can see, sometimes our best intentions have unforeseen consequences. It’s important to keep all of this in mind as you consider whether or not to crate train your dog.
When to crate and when not to crate your dog
If the circumstances are right, crating can be the best experience for both us and our dogs. We’ve put together a list of guidelines to follow if you decide to give crating a try.
Don’t keep your young pup in the crate for more than 2-3 hours
If your pup is young he will have a small bladder so it is important to take him out every few hours to use the bathroom. This will teach him that the toilet is outside, not inside the crate or house.
Don’t keep an older dog in the crate for more than 4-5 hours
Even if our dogs are house trained, keeping them in a crate for too long can be detrimental to their limbs. Taking them out throughout the day is important for their health.
Never use the crate as a form of punishment
We want our pups to feel safe and at home in their crates. The friendlier the environment, the happier the dogs. If your dog feels that the crate is a punishment you are adding undue stress and anxiety.
Get the correct crate size
We want the crate to be big enough for our dogs to have space to walk and turn around, but not too big that they can use it as a toilet. Size matters here!
How to choose a crate for your dog
There are several crate types to choose from, like metal, plastic or fabric. We recommend these three crates as a good starting place:
If this works, our pups will be house trained in no time! Once they’re housetrained and familiar with their surroundings, the crate should become a place our dogs go to voluntarily. Our recommendation is to stop closing and locking the crate door once you trust your pup is trained and comfortable. Hopefully, you’ll come home from work to your dog taking a relaxing snooze in his safe space!
If you’re worried that your dog will still eat the furniture or get into harm’s way, our recommendation is to try a large pen or a dog gate to block them into one room or space in the house. This gives them the freedom to move around but also controls some of their naughty behavior.
Similarly, if you have a yard that’s escape-proof, you can leave your pup outside to smell the fresh air all day. You can even build a dog run to keep him entertained while you are out.
Dog walkers are also a great resource to come and give your dog some relief and exercise during the day if you aren’t able to leave the office.
We can’t make the decision for you of whether or not crating your dog while at work is the right choice for you. But, we do see the benefits of creating a healthy space for your dog to feel safe while you’re not there. With the right information, you can decide whether you should crate your dog while you are at work.
Crating can provide stable boundaries and keep our pups out of harm’s way. It can also make house training a breeze instead of a nightmare. However, it all depends on your dog’s past and personality. If your dog associates a crate as a place they feel punished or stuck it may not be worth it.
We ultimately all want what’s best for our dogs, while not driving ourselves crazy with worry while at work. Whatever you decide to do, we hope after reading this you feel better equipped with the information you need to move forward!