Now that the pandemic is waning and society is returning to normal, many people who bought dogs during lockdown are forced to return to work.
So, what can you do with your furry friend while you’re out? Is crating dogs while at work cruel? And can you leave a dog in a crate while you’re at work?
Read this guide to learn more about the rights and wrongs of crating your dog while you go out to work.
Can I Crate My Dog While At Work?
Dogs are naturally denning animals that like to have a secure, safe space in which to hide.
Observe your furry friend; you’ll probably notice him sneaking under a table, behind your sofa, or even into a kitchen cupboard space. Nothing’s wrong with your pet; he’s simply doing what comes naturally and searching for a nice, cozy den in which to sleep.
You’re giving your dog the perfect den by providing him with a well-equipped crate!
For the pet parent, there are plenty of benefits of crate training your dog, including:
- Preventing destructive behavior
- Potty training
- Ensuring an undisturbed night’s sleep
- Keeping your dog safe while you’re not around to watch him
- Safe travel with your dog
Most dogs accept a small amount of crate confinement, and many pups go into their crate without the owner’s influence. However, there are a few caveats to bear in mind when confining your dog to his crate.
You should never use a crate for punishment. Your dog’s crate is his special safe place. If you send your pup to his crate as a punishment or for extended hours, your dog will quickly begin to resent the crate.
Ideally, you should only crate your dog for a couple of hours at a stretch. Your dog should associate his crate with relaxation, and confining your dog for a long period of time can be stressful for your furry friend and encourage behavioral issues, such as barking and chewing.
The last thing you want is for your dog to develop fears of crate time, as that can lead to difficult behavior.
Should I Get A Dog If I’m Out At Work All Day?
Ideally, you should be around for at least part of the day if you want to get a dog.
Dogs are social animals, and some pups can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. There’s also the practical issue of your dog needing to go outside for several potty breaks during the day.
However, you can still enjoy keeping a dog as a pet if you have a full-time job. You just need to manage things properly.
How Long Can A Dog Be Left In A Crate?
Most adult dogs can stay confined to a crate for up to eight hours.
However, ideally, that would be overnight while your dog is asleep. During the daytime, you shouldn’t expect your dog to remain confined to his crate for over four hours.
Puppies and senior dogs with continence issues will not be able to spend that long contained in a crate before needing a toilet break.
Can My Dog Be Crated For 12 Hours?
It’s cruel to shut your dog in a crate for 12 hours or more.
A dog crate is ideal for keeping your pet contained for short periods, such as for daytime naps and during house training. However, if you need to leave your dog alone for long periods, you need to find an alternative solution.
When it comes to leaving your dog home alone, there are the practicalities of toilet breaks to consider.
Dogs are hard-wired not to soil their sleeping area, and your dog will want to keep his crate clean. If your pup has a potty accident in his crate, he could become distressed and upset, adding to the stress of being left home alone.
So, how long can you leave your dog in his crate before he has to go to the bathroom?
Well, there are several factors that can influence a dog’s ability to “hold it.” Large breeds, such as Golden retrievers, have big bladders and can last for longer than tiny breeds, such as Chihuahuas. As mentioned earlier, dogs with health issues, very young puppies, and older pups won’t be able to wait as long as a fit, young adult dog.
Of all those influential factors, the most critical is the dog’s age. As you’ll see from the table below, the waiting time is dependent on a dog’s age.
Age vs. Waiting Time – Potty Table
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
Generally, adult dogs need to go anywhere from three to five times every day. So, you can work out that an average adult pup needs to pee roughly once every eight hours.
As mentioned earlier, dogs are very sociable creatures that need the company of other animals to thrive and be happy. A dog that’s left completely alone regularly for long periods will quickly get stressed and miserable.
Separation anxiety can lead to destructive behavior, chewing, and excessive barking. However, most dogs can adapt to a new routine that involves being left alone for all or part of the day, provided that they have space to move, the company of other pets, and some favorite toys to play with.
That said, your dog should not be left completely alone for more than four to six hours and not every day.
When To Crate Your Dog
It’s essential that you don’t just crate your dog when you go out and leave your pet home alone.
Spending time in his crate at times should be a regular part of your dog’s daily routine and crate training plan. So, teach your dog that it’s quite normal for your pet to spend short periods in his crate every day while you’re around.
For example, you might want to put your dog in his crate at mealtimes as part of his regular crate schedule.
That strategy stops your dog from thinking that the only time he goes into his crate is when you’re going to leave him alone.
Crate Size Guide
You must not expect your dog to be happy in a crate that’s the wrong size for him.
For full details on how to pick a crate of the correct size, check out this crate training guide. However, in short, your dog’s crate should be large enough to enable your pet:
- to stand up
- to sit down
- to turn around
- to lie down flat out
Your dog should be able to do all those things comfortably without bumping into the crate roof or sides. When lying down, your pet’s feet shouldn’t touch the crate sides.
To avoid having to upsize to a larger crate when your puppy reaches adulthood, buy a crate with a removable divider panel.
What Alternatives Are There To Using Dog Crates?
If you need to leave your precious pet home alone for more than a few hours while you’re out at work, there are some practical alternatives to using a dog crate.
Take Your Dog To Work With You
Many companies, such as Amazon, are happy for their employees to take their pets into the workplace with them.
Provided that your dog is well-behaved and potty trained, your employer might be happy for your pet to accompany you to work. Settle your dog in a crate or bed under your desk while you’re working and take him outside for a pee break every few hours.
Friends and Family
As far as most dogs are concerned, no amount of toys and treats can make up for human company.
If you have friends or family members that live nearby, ask them if they could visit your home to let your dog out for a toilet break and a leg stretch while you’re out at work.
That works well for a few reasons, including:
- Your dog will be pleased to see a few familiar faces to break up his day while you’re not around.
- Your friends and family will most likely not expect you to pay for pet-sitting duties!
- You might prefer entrusting your family or close friend with a key to your place.
Alternatively, you could arrange for your family members to take turns having your dog spend a day with them while you’re working. That way, your dog gets to enjoy a different environment every day, and your besties get to share your pet!
Dog Walking Services
A dog walking service could be an option if you don’t have a friend or family member who could spare some time to tend to Fido while you’re at work.
Dog walking services are excellent if you have an obedient dog that mixes well with other pups. The dog walker will come to your home at an agreed time to walk your dog, feed him, and check he has plenty of water. Depending on how long you need to leave your dog, you might need the walker to visit twice.
I used a dog walker for many years while working away from home. The peace of mind was well worth the cost, and my dog loved her walks. However, dog walker services can cost from $30 and $60 per hour, depending on the services you need.
Use Doggy Daycare Facilities
If you can afford to pay the fees, sending your dog to a daycare facility can be a great alternative to leaving him at home while you go to work. Daycare is the perfect solution if you have a dog who hates being left alone, even for short periods.
Doggy daycare centers aim to provide your dog with a home-from-home environment where he can interact with other well-behaved, sociable pups. These facilities often offer a pickup and drop-off service, too. During the day, your dog will enjoy trips to the park, games, snacks, meals, nap times, and plenty of potty breaks, too.
The main drawback to doggy daycare is the cost involved. You can expect to pay from $40 to $50 per day for your pet’s daycare, depending on what services are offered. That said, if you can afford the fees, your furry friend’s welfare and your peace of mind are well worth the expense.
If daycare costs are too prohibitive to make that a workable solution, you might want to consider using a dog sitting service.
The dog sitter spends the day and night, if necessary, living in your home with your dog. Essentially, the sitter is a surrogate pet parent, keeping your furry friend company, exercising, feeding, and brushing your canine companion.
I recommend using a professional pet sitting company rather than a one-man-band. Pro sitting companies have insurance, and all their employees are vetted. These firms also usually have an emergency vet on call in case of accidents or health problems.
The biggest issue with pet sitters is the cost, although that can depend on how much time the sitter spends in your home.
Use A Dog Kennel
If your dog likes to spend time outside and you live in a region where the climate is not too extreme, your backyard might be a good place for your pet to be while you’re out at work.
Here are some helpful tips on how to prepare your backyard for your dog:
- Dog-proof your yard with secure fencing so that your dog can’t escape.
- Invest in a high-quality dog kennel where your pet can take shelter from the elements when necessary.
- Make sure your fence is high enough to stop your furry friend from leaping over it.
- Remove plants that are poisonous to pets.
- Store garden tools, fertilizers, etc., safely where your dog can’t get to them.
- Move your trash can so that your dog can’t overturn it and rummage through your garbage.
- If you have a pool, fence it off securely so that your dog can’t get into it.
- Put out a bowl of clean water every day, and ensure that your dog has plenty of shade on warm days.
Remember to check your yard fencing regularly for damage, and be sure to maintain the kennel so that it doesn’t start leaking.
Of course, if your dog is a barker and you have near neighbors, keeping your pet outside in your yard is not an option for you.
If you have a suitable area in your home, you might want to use a puppy playpen as an alternative to a crate.
A puppy playpen is essentially a temporary fenced area that your dog can spend time in without being confined to his crate. The idea is to keep the dog contained in the playpen while allowing him lots of space to move around and play with his toys.
You can equip the playpen with a comfortable bed, a selection of a few toys, some treats, and a bowl of clean water to keep your pet amused, safe, and hydrated while you’re out.
You might also want to enclose your dog’s crate inside the playpen. That way, your pet can take a nap in his crate when he wants to without being confined to it for hours at a time.
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Essentially, you can keep an adult dog confined to his crate for between four and six hours. Dogs can spend the whole night in their crate, too. However, senior dogs and young puppies need frequent bathroom breaks, so crating them for longer than that is cruel.
If your dog is prone to stress-related behavioral conditions, such as separation anxiety, you shouldn’t shut him in his crate for the whole day and leave him alone. Instead, try one of the alternatives we’ve suggested in his article, such as using a pet sitter or even taking your dog to work with you!
What do you do with your dog if you’re out at work all day? Tell us your solutions in the comments box below!