How Long Can a Dog Be Left Alone in a Crate?

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Most dogs should not be left in the crate for more than 8 hours continuously during the night and 2-4 hours during the day, and this length of time is much shorter for older dogs and puppies. You should never let your dog spend most of their time in the crate even if you provide regular breaks.

Dogs are typically social animals and need to spend time around their loved humans and other pets. How long a dog can be left in a cage will mainly depend on their age and whether it’s daytime or nighttime.

Proper Crate Training Is a Must

Crate training your dog is an excellent way to get them accustomed to a particular schedule at home. However, it’s often not the ideal way to leave them while you’re at work.

When crate training your pup, you need to consider their age, the situation in your household, and how long you’re gone for work. You need to think about such things way before you even bring home a new puppy to help you make the right decision that will be beneficial for both of you.

A properly-sized dog crate is especially critical when training a dog to live with you indoors. It basically triggers their natural instinct to live in a den. With proper crate training, your dog will view the crate as a safe and comfy space.

Dog in a crate

How Much Time is Too Much Time in a Crate? 

Crating a dog all day while you’re at work and again crating her all night is undoubtedly too much. If you must crate your pooch while you’re at work, it only makes sense to allow him out once you arrive home and overnight.

But if your work schedule means you’ll be out for more than eight hours, then it is not appropriate to crate your dog while at work.

A viable solution is to drop your pup at doggy daycare during the day so he can spend time with other pets and humans while he is supervised. Alternatively, consider hiring a dog walker or have a friend or family member come over to walk your dog or take him out for a mid-day potty break.

With advancements in technology, some pet owners are finding wireless dog fences effective in confining their pups within the safety of their homes without excessively infringing on their freedom to roam the yard and get potty breaks.

However, you’ll need to train your pup around the invisible fence to help them understand the territories and know which areas are safe and which ones are no-go zones before you leave them unsupervised.

Dog bored in a cage

How Long Can Dogs Hold It? 

The main reason dogs shouldn’t be crated for too long is the need for regular potty breaks. The average duration dogs can hold it is 4-6 hours, but puppies and senior dogs may need more frequent breaks.

If you’ll be away from home longer than that during the day, consider signing up for doggy daycare, hiring a dog walker, or installing a doggy door to allow your pooch some freedom to walk to the potty area.

A dog having a potty break

How Long Can A Puppy Be Left In A Crate? 

A young puppy can comfortably stay in a crate for no more than 30 minutes. If you insist on crating them longer than that, they will end up soiling their crate, causing them to have undesirable anxiety around the crate.

As a result, you will have a very difficult time training them to have the best behaviors you desire. It’s best to leave them with a dog sitter while you’re at work or drop them over at doggy daycare.

Always take special care with puppies since the initial years are formative for their behaviors and personalities. Leaving a small puppy alone in a crate for 8 hours or more is bluntly cruel. In fact, you should never leave a small dog alone in the crate all day until they are about 2 years old.

Man playing with puppy

How to Minimize Your Dog’s Time in the Crate

Here are a few ways you can avoid leaving your dog alone in the crate for too long:

  • Doggie Daycare – Even by enrolling your dog for four hours a day, it leaves you with just about four hours to crate him as you complete your full-time job, and then you join him home for the rest of the day. The idea is to minimize the time in a crate to the recommended 2-4 hours during the day and a maximum of 8 hours during the night.
  • Come Home for Lunch – If you don’t work too far from home, consider coming home for lunch to give your pooch a potty break. If you have multiple family members staying in the same house, you could even take turns coming home for lunch to let loose your furry friend for a few minutes and provide some pampering.
  • Hire a Dog Walker – A professional dog walker can help you with various services such as quick home visits to provide potty breaks, neighborhood walks, day training, and more.
  • Work From Home – Advancements in technology have made telecommuting more popular than ever. Consider working from your home office as often as you can to share some great moments with your pooch.
  • Bring Your Dog to Work – Although not everyone can do this, some organizations promote pet-friendly policies that could allow you to bring along your pet to work.
  • Ask a Friend or Neighbor to Watch Your Pup – An even cheaper solution is to ask your neighbor or friend who loves dogs to watch over your pet during the day and offer the necessary breaks while you’re at work.
A puppy pampered with love

Remote Monitoring Cameras and Automatic Feeders 

There are special dog monitoring cameras that you can use to remotely engage your dog and give them little fun activities. Some cameras support video live streams as well as audio sound to allow you to speak to your dog and give them certain instructions.

You could also include an automatic dog feeder so they can have some snacks during the day as you verbally calm them down. That would be fun for them, right?

What Should Go In a Dog’s Crate

Regardless of the solution you pick, be sure to leave your dog some interesting activities while they are in the crate during the day. You will find great dog toys that your pooch can enjoy playing with throughout the day and eliminate boredom.

Additionally, you want your pet to have a pillow and a blanket that they love. This turns the crate into a little comfy house that will want to sleep in all day long. 

Final Words

It is okay to crate train your dog when you need to work away from home, but you have to commit to the process and ensure that your pooch does not stay alone longer than necessary. Caged dog syndrome can easily set in if you crate your dog for more than 4 hours during the day.

If you’ll be leaving home for longer than that, be sure to find an alternative solution such as registering for daycare, hiring a dog walker, or asking a friend or family to step in while you’re at work.


NOTE: Ask-a-Vet is an affiliated service for dog parents who wish to speak with a veterinary professional concerning their pet’s specific situation. In the beginning, a bot will ask you questions to determine the general nature of your concern before transferring you to a human. There is a charge for this service if you choose to connect to a vet. Note that Ask-a-Vet is not manned by Dogwarmth.com and the advice given should not replace or delay a visit to your veterinarian.

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