Although some people believe crates are cruel, they’re a great means to an end if you want a well-mannered pup. But is leaving the dog in a crate while at work a good idea at all?
In short, it’s not recommended to leave dogs in crates for too long, especially if you have a puppy. Bladder control is the main issue, and it’s not something that you can resolve with pure will.
Instead, if you need to go to work, it’s best to ask someone to check up on the dog during the day or go home at your lunch break. Alternatively, consider taking the dog with you to the office — that way, you don’t have to part at all!
Should I Leave My Dog in a Crate While at Work?
Now more than ever, few people can afford to either quit or take a leave from work, especially not when they only want to take care of their pooches. So the question is — is leaving the dog in a crate while at work feasible? Should you even try it?
As a long-time dog owner, I’ve experienced my fair share of crate training. One of the main parts of the whole process is testing the dog’s boundaries and working on its bladder control.
What I’ve noticed during the years is that some people abuse the fact that most pooches don’t have to go potty so frequently. So, let’s see why leaving the dog in a crate while at work might be a fantastic idea — and why it won’t work for some owners.
Benefits of Leaving the Dog in a Crate While at Work
Before we delve any further, it’s essential to divulge all the advantages of crating the dog while you’re at work. Although seemingly cruel, with proper training, the crate doesn’t have to be a bad place or puppy jail.
In fact, some dogs absolutely love theirs because at least partially, they’re den animals. Even today, we can notice how mothers always try to find a safe hiding spot for their pups, and how some dogs love hiding in nooks around their homes.
To that end, the crate can serve as a fantastic den for your dog where it can come and relax after a long day of jumping around for balls, playing with its toys, etc.
Naturally, damage prevention is one of the main reasons owners even consider leaving dogs in crates when they’re at work. No matter what breed you have, chances are that your pooch may try to wreak havoc if it gets bored while at home. On top of that, it may become anxious because you’re not there, which may lead to some howling, pillow ripping, etc.
Of course, not every dog is like this. However, if yours is still young and in puberty, it’s likely that it won’t think twice about chewing on your favorite shoes.
Plus, most dogs are rather inquisitive, and they may even go from room to room to find something entertaining to do. Most of the time, that activity may be destructive from your point of view. In the dog’s mind, it’s just playing around!
But more importantly, keeping the dog in the crate should stop it from getting into any trouble. Destroying some parts of your home is one thing. While roaming around, though, dogs may come in contact with all sorts of substances and objects, some of which may be even dangerous.
We often underestimate pooches and forget that they’re incredibly smart and able to notice what we do around the house. Thus, it’s not uncommon for dogs to actually realize where we keep their treats, for instance — and they may try to find them while we’re not home!
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The Main Issue With Leaving the Dog in a Crate While at Work
Now, you may be thinking — using a crate to keep the dog safe and sound while you’re at work seems like an excellent idea. And in theory, it does work, especially if you’ve taken the time to make the crate a welcoming place that will serve as the ultimate doggy sanctuary.
However, the success of it all largely depends on the dog’s age and how many hours you’ll be away.
You see, once a dog starts seeing the crate as its very own den, it will never want to ruin it by soiling it, for instance. But it will have to go potty at some point! And if you’re not there to let it out, you can bet it will grow more and more anxious until it actually has an accident!
Most people believe crates are cruel because of those little accidents; the whole idea of having to “hold it in” for hours on end is rather strange to us humans.
So Should You Use a Crate While at Work?
I don’t want to discourage you — leaving the dog in a crate while at work is still possible. However, it may take some prep and proper training.
First off, don’t even think about leaving a puppy in the crate. Biologically speaking, puppy bladders are rather small, and they may not be able to hold it in for too long. Even if you work a part-time shift, it’s likely you won’t get home in time to let the dog go potty.
At most, they may be able to sleep soundly for a couple of hours before crying for a potty break. But even that’s not set in stone; some tiny pups may need to eliminate every half hour or so.
Older dogs are easier to handle; they may be able to stay in their crates for a whopping eight hours in total. But think about it — is there a need for that at all?
Some owners believe that it’s just not fair to do that to dogs, and I do agree to some extent. At best, leaving the dog in a crate for eight hours is possible at night because it’ll be sleeping soundly.
However, if it’s your only option, know that you can (in theory) leave the dog in the crate, provided it has enough space to relax there comfortably.
Proper crate training and desensitizing to being left alone are also essential factors to keep in mind. In essence, the dog has to love its crate and be very comfortable when home alone. Stress and anxiety should be avoided at all costs.
Is There an Alternative to Leaving the Dog in a Crate While at Work?
Using crates may not be an ideal solution for you if the pooch cannot control its bladder yet. In that case, it’s much easier to crate-train it while you’re at home. When you need to go to work, use some alternative methods.
Of course, there are other reasons you may decide against a crate. It’s practically inhumane to leave a dog in it if it’s ill or keeps soiling it. That may simply stress it out and cause it to act out.
Some dogs are also escaping artists and know how to open the crate door. Others are just not used to it and start screaming as soon as you put them inside.
In all of those cases, proper crate training may help you in the long run. Still, if you need a solution fast, I suggest asking someone to take care of your dog while you’re not home. If that’s not possible, you could opt for a playpen to give it more space.
Playpens Offer More Space — But Expect Some Potty Accidents
In theory, playpens are a good alternative since the dog will have plenty of space to both relax and play. You can set them up both indoors and outdoors and even customize the size to fit your growing pooch. What’s more, since there’s so much space, you don’t have to worry about the dog going hungry or thirsty while you’re at work. The bowls fit inside the playpen!
But that’s the problem! With so much space, it will be tempting to eliminate somewhere inside the playpen. Dogs don’t want to soil their den, but the playpen isn’t their sanctuary; more often than not, it’s just a fence that should keep them in one spot. As such, they aren’t attached to it and will likely go potty if they need to.
Of course, depending on how much time you’re spending at work, you may not come home to any accidents. Alternatively, you can always train your dog to pee or poop on puppy pads to avoid any mess.
A Dog Sitter May Be Your Best Bet
Still, at some point, the dog will have to learn how to control its bladder and not use the pads. Why waste time then if you can crate-train it and avoid any potential issues?
A better alternative, therefore, is to still use a crate but hire a dog sitter that will come by to check the dog and let it out to go potty.
That can be a family member or a professional sitter — it’s really up to you. What matters is that they’re available at a specific time (about half-way through your workday) to come by and let the pooch relieve itself. Giving it some cuddles and treats won’t hurt either!
Keep in mind, though, that what you do before work matters as well. Before leaving, you should take the dog for a walk and ensure its basic needs are met. If there’s some time, play with it for a while too.
Otherwise, you’ll set it up for clear failure. There’s a good chance that it won’t be able to stay calm within the crate. In fact, it may become more and more anxious as the day goes by.
Consider Coming Home for Lunch or Taking the Dog With You
Finally, if you’re thinking about leaving the dog in a crate while at work, know that it might be easier to do so if you’re able to come back home for lunch. Do you live close by or can have a longer lunch break? Consider this idea, as it might be the best of both worlds. Not only will you get to take the dog out and ease its mind, but you’ll also get a quick pick-me-up by seeing your best friend!
Alternatively, if the office is a pet-friendly space, consider taking the dog with you. At least that way, you won’t worry about it struggling to control its bladder or any potential hunger or loneliness. You can be with your pooch all day long!
As you can see, leaving the dog in a crate while at work isn’t cruel at all if you take into account how many hours you work and how old the dog is. As long as it is comfortable within the crate, can control its bladder for eight hours, and has been fed and taken outside for a potty break before work, it should be just fine.
However, bladder control is unique to every dog out there, and it’s not a skill that they can hone overnight. Therefore, if you can get some help, take a longer lunch break, or bring your dog to work with you — consider it. Your dog will thank you!