Can I Crate My Dog for 12 hours? Are There Alternatives?

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Can I crate my dog for 12 hours? What’s the longest time period you can safely keep your dog crated? Are there alternatives? 

That’s what you need to know if you have to leave your canine companion home alone, especially if you work long shifts. In this guide, we take a look at how you can provide adequate care for your dog while you’re out.

Keep reading for expert advice on what to do for your furry friend when you’re not around to keep him company.

Can I Crate My Dog For 12 Hours?

No! You must not keep your dog shut in his crate for 12 hours. To do that is cruel and will cause your pet considerable discomfort and stress.

Although a dog crate is perfect for keeping your pet confined for short periods, such as during potty training and for daytime naps, crate training doesn’t make a good solution for you if you need a longer-term enclosure for your dog.

Is It Okay To Crate My Dog for 12 Hours At Night?

Dogs are classified as “polyphasic sleepers.”

Black Dog inside a crate

Polyphasic sleepers sleep during the daytime, generally for one or two-hour segments, waking up for around the same time span. That equates to around 12 hours of sleep time in total. Much of the dog’s awake time is spent dozing or simply lazing around doing nothing. 

For that reason, a healthy adult dog is capable of spending up to around 12 hours in his crate overnight, provided that you give your pet plenty of exercise and mental stimulation while he’s out of his crate.

You might also like: Puppy Crate Training Schedule

Puppies Are Different

Although young puppies spend more time sleeping than adult dogs do, a puppy cannot manage 12 hours in a crate, even overnight.

Unlike adult dogs, puppies can’t hold their bladders for long enough to last all night and will need a potty break until they are around three to four months of age. At that age, your puppy will be able to make it through the night without relieving himself, but he won’t be able to wait for as long as 12 hours.

How Long Can Dogs Wait Before They Need To Pee?

If you’re out at work all day, the last thing you want is to be worrying that you might have a cleanup job on your hands when you get in from work. Let’s face it; nobody wants to come home to discover that their furry friend has had an accident. 

So, how long can your dog wait before he needs to relieve himself?

That depends on quite a few different factors, including the dog’s health and his diet. In general, large dog breeds, such as German Shepherds and Golden retrievers, have bigger bladders and can therefore last for longer than tiny breeds. Also, a healthy dog will be able to wait longer than one with health issues.

However, the most influential factor when it comes to determining how long a dog can wait before he needs to pee is his age. Take a look at the table below, and you’ll see how that time period varies during the course of the dog’s lifetime.

Age vs. Waiting Time – Summary Table


Waiting Time

Puppies under 6 months of age

1 to 3 hours

Puppies over 6 months of age

2 to 6 hours

Adult dogs under 7 years of age

6 to 8 hours

Senior dogs aged over 7 years

4 to 6 hours

Senior dogs aged over 12 years

2 to 4 hours

Age vs. Waiting Time

Puppies under 6 months of age
1 to 3 hours

Puppies over 6 months of age
2 to 6 hours

Adult dogs under 7 years of age
6 to 8 hours

Senior dogs aged over 7 years
4 to 6 hours

Senior dogs aged over 12 years
2 to 4 hours

On average, an adult dog needs to relieve itself between 3 and 5 times per day. That works out at once every eight hours or so. So, you can see that your average adult dog needs to pee around once every 8 hours. Unless extreme circumstances dictate otherwise, that’s the longest time you should expect your dog to wait in his crate.

How Long Can I Keep My Dog In His Crate Overnight?

Ideally, a dog should only spend around 8 hours crated overnight.

In the morning, the first thing you should do is let your dog out into your backyard or take him for a walk so that he can relieve himself and do his business. It’s also very important that you give your dog some exercise in the form of a trip to the dog park, a long walk, or a game of fetch in your backyard. After that, he can enjoy his breakfast before settling down for the day while you go out to work.

Can You Leave Your Dog Home Alone For 12 Hours?

When it comes to leaving Fido alone, it’s not just the practicalities of toilet breaks that are an issue.

Dogs are extremely social animals that are evolved to live in packs with other dogs. As such, your pet needs to have the company of other creatures to be happy and to thrive. A dog that’s deprived of human company for a long period of time will become stressed and unhappy pretty quickly. 

For example, some dog breeds, such as Goldendoodles are not good dogs from the point of view that they tend to suffer from separation anxiety when left alone. Unfortunately, that can lead to undesirable behavioral issues, including chewing and barking.

However, most dogs are pretty resilient creatures that can easily adapt to new situations if they need to, including being left alone for extended periods. In theory, if provided with space to move around, toys to play with, and the company of another dog, your dog could probably manage for 10-12 hours alone if he had to. However, that’s not ideal, and we don’t recommend it. 

Ideally, your dog should never be expected to spend more than 4 to 6 hours on his own.

How Long Can Your Dog Be Left Without Water?

There’s no reason to leave a dog crated without access to clean water. Rather than a traditional dog water bowl that could be knocked over inside the crate, you can choose a dog crate water bottle or a special dog crate water bowl instead.

A healthy dog can survive for around 2 to 3 days without water. However, that doesn’t mean that he should have to! Water deprivation causes dehydration, which can cause organ damage and that can be fatal for your pet. In the event that your dog is sick and refuses to drink water for more than 24 hours, you must seek veterinary assistance immediately. 

Bottom line: never leave your dog in a crate without water, even for a couple of hours.

You might also like: When To Stop Crate Training Your Canine Friends

How Much Water Does Your Dog Need Each Day?

If you’re a new pet owner, it’s essential that you always make sure that your pet has enough to drink each day. If you know how much your pet should be drinking, you will have a better idea of when things are not quite right with your dog and when you should seek professional advice.

So, how much water should your dog drink every day? Well, according to American Kennel Club (AKC) guidelines, the average adult dog should consume around one ounce of water for every pound of its body weight. That means that a fully grown dog weighing around 55 pounds should drink at least 55 ounces of water every day.

Puppies tend to drink more than that equation suggests, especially when they are being weaned off their mothers’ milk. In fact, a newly weaned puppy will typically drink half a cup of water every couple of hours before transitioning to the normal adult consumption levels.

However, if the weather is very warm, your dog has been running or playing, or you have a dog with certain health conditions, your pup might need more water than the average. So, we recommend that you always ensure that your dog has access to water 24/7/365. 

What Alternatives Are There To Crating Your Dog?

If you live alone and you need to sometimes leave your dog on his lonesome for long periods of time, what else can you do if crating him is not an option?

Puppy Playpens

Puppies In A Playpen

A puppy playpen can make a good alternative to a crate if you need to leave Fido home alone for long periods.

A playpen is basically a temporary fenced area rather like a kid’s playpen in which your dog can spend time without being completely confined. Although your pet can’t get out of the playpen, there’s plenty of space for him to move around and play. You can provide your pet with a dog bed, toys, water, and treats in the playpen to keep him happy while you’re not around.

For the perfect setup, you can combine your dog’s crate with a playpen. The dog can take refuge in his crate when he wants to nap and then stretch his legs in the playpen when he feels the need to. Leave your pet with plenty of toys to entertain him while you’re not there, and all should be well.

Family And Friends

Most dogs crave and appreciate human contact and that’s definitely good for your pet’s mental health. So, if you have family and friends nearby, your first port of call might be to ask them if they would be able to visit your place to care for your pet while you’re out during the day. 

That’s a good idea for several reasons:

  • Your dog knows your family, so he will most likely be happier when cared for by someone he knows.
  • You probably won’t have to pay your family or friends for pet-sitting duties!
  • You might feel more comfortable giving your family members or close friends a key to your home.
  • Your family members might like to work a rota system where your dog goes to a different person’s home every day to be cared for. That way, the burden of dog care is shared equally, and your pet gets to enjoy a change of scenery each day, too.

If your family and friends also have pets, you might be able to come to an arrangement where you provide care for them when necessary in exchange.

Take Your Dog To Work!

These days, many companies, including corporate giant Amazon offer their employees the option to take their pets to work with them. 

If you have a well-socialized dog that is fully potty trained and will sleep quietly under your desk for long periods in a comfortable crate or bed while you’re working, taking him with you to work might be a good option if your employer is in agreement. That way, you’ll never need to worry that your dog is left home alone.

Doggy Daycare

If your dog suffers from separation anxiety and you really don’t want to leave him on his own for more than a couple of hours max, you might want to consider investing in doggy daycare for your furry friend.

A doggy daycare service provides a home-from-home environment for your pet. You drop your dog off on your way to work in the morning and pick him up on your way home. Throughout the day, your pooch gets to play with other dogs, maybe take a trip to the dog park, enjoys games, snacks, feeds, and as many toilet breaks as he needs, too. 

Of course, doggy daycare does incur a cost to the owner, typically between $40 to $50 per day, depending on the services that are offered by the daycare center. However, when you offset that cost against your peace of mind and your dog’s welfare, it’s money well spent.

Dog Walkers

Training a Goldendoodle puppy dog

If you have a well-socialized dog that’s obedient and mixes well with other dogs, you might consider hiring a dog-walking service.

Dog walkers can come to your home at a prearranged time to take your dog out for a walk, refill his water bowl, feed him, and make sure that all’s well. If you’re out for a long time, you might need two visits from the dog walker, which means you can expect to spend between $30 and $60 per hour, depending on the services provided.

My dog walker was priceless when I couldn’t be around to walk my precious pup due to work commitments.

Dog Sitters

A dog sitter can make a great option for you if your dog prefers to have human company when left home alone.

The dog sitter will spend the day and overnight if required, living in your home and providing basic care for your pet. The sitter will play with your dog in the backyard, take him for a walk, feed him, and generally keep him company.

You can find independent pet sitters or professional pet sitting companies. I always prefer to use a pet sitting company, as they have insurance, they vet their employees, and they have access to veterinary support in case of accidents.

Dog Kennels

If you have a large backyard, you can dog-proof it so that your dog can enjoy some fresh air and exercise while you’re out at work.

Provide your pet with a good quality dog kennel to give him shelter from the elements, and make sure that your yard fencing is secure so that your dog can’t escape. Here are a few extra top tips to help you dog-proof your backyard.

  • Ensure the fence is high enough to prevent your dog from jumping out.
  • Check that your garden doesn’t contain any plants or flowers that are toxic to dogs.
  • Place all your garden tools safely out of your dog’s reach.
  • Put any chemicals, oils, etc, in a dog-proof place.
  • Make sure that the trash can is not accessible to your dog.
  • If you have a pool, make sure that your dog can’t accidentally fall into it.

Once you’ve dog-proofed your yard, make a note in your diary to inspect fencing regularly for damage, especially after storms.

Finally, remember to put out fresh, clean water for your dog every day, and consider investing in a shade sail if you live in a warm climate.

In Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed our article on whether it’s acceptable to crate a dog for 12 hours. If you found the information included in this guide helpful, please take a second to share it.

So, basically, it is never okay to crate your dog for 12 hours straight. The maximum time that a dog should spend in his crate is 8 hours and that’s if the dog is fit, healthy, and aged under 7 years of age. Puppies are not able to spend anywhere near as long crated, as they can’t control their bladder or bowl for that long.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways that you can get around the problem of leaving your dog without your company for 12 hours. You might want to consider hiring a pet sitter, doggy daycare facility, or a dog walker. Alternatively, a family member or friend might help you out. Finally, there’s the option of dog-proofing your backyard or even an area of your home.

What solution works best for you and your dog? Tell us in the comments box below!

Meet our writer

Alison Page was brought up with dogs and various other pets! For a few years, Alison worked as a Practice Manager in a small animal veterinary clinic. Alison is now a full-time writer, specializing in creating articles on the care and training of dogs, cats, and fish.

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