You’re getting your shoes on, putting on your coat, grabbing your keys – and there are those eyes looking up at you. In an ideal world, you’d be able to stay home with your best buddy all day long. You’d play games of fetch, lounge in the sunshine, and enjoy cuddle time on the couch. Unfortunately, the ideal world isn’t the real world for most, and this means leaving your dog behind while you jump in the car and get ready for an 8-hour grind. How can you keep your pup happy, calm, and, most of all, safe while you’re at work? An escape-proof crate is the den your dog needs.
Why A Crate?
According to the Humane Society of the United States, crates serve a useful purpose in dog comfort. Dogs have a natural instinct to seek out comfortable, quiet, and soothing spaces during times of stress. While you may believe that leaving for work is only stressful for you, it can be stressful for your pup as well. You don’t want to leave them, and they don’t want you to go either. Even dogs without separation anxiety aren’t glad to see their families leave.
Not only is the crate a comfort tool, it’s also recommended by the AKC for safety. While yesterday’s rotisserie chicken in the garbage can might smell absolutely delicious, your dog doesn’t know that those bones aren’t like their bones from the pet store; they can pose serious risk to their health. Outside of the crate and without family supervision, temptation may take over and lead your dog into a potentially dangerous and/or inevitably messy situation.
To leave dog in crate while at work gives you less to worry about them and your home, and gives your dog a comfortable, quiet, and safe place to relax throughout the day. An escape-proof crate is a comfort tool for your dog and a peace of mind tool for you.
The Importance Of Crate Training
Before you leave dog in crate while at work, it’s crucial to familiarize and make sure your dog is crate trained. While an escape-proof Aluminum Dog Crate is built with comfort and safety first, that doesn’t mean that every dog will automatically take to their crate straight away. A little crate training may be necessary for some more suspicious dogs, and according to the American Kennel Club, it can be done in a few relatively simple steps:
Size first – First, choose the right crate for your dog. The crate should be an appropriate size, it should be safe, and it should be tough. According to dog magazine Daily Paws, the right sized crate will allow your dog to walk into the crate, stand up, turn around, and lay down comfortably. The right sized crate will make all the difference with successful crate training.
Start positive associations – You want your dog to know that the crate is not just a good place, it’s a great place! It’s somewhere they can go to relax, soothe themselves, and rest. In the beginning, avoid placing your dog in their crate while they’re excitable or in the middle of play. If they’re not ready to rest, they’ll begin to associate the crate with frustration instead of comfort. Instead, wait until they’re settling down, and entice them into their crate with a great treat. Start with 10-to-15-minute crate trips at first and work your way up from there.
Associate the crate with activities they love – If your dog is going to be in their crate a while, like for a full day’s work, associate the crate with activities they look forward to. If you’re planning to grab lunch at a great new pizza spot, your workday is probably going to look a lot better in the morning. Likewise, if your dog knows they’re going to be able to enjoy a little frozen peanut butter or a favorite puzzle, they’re going to look forward to spending time in their crate a lot more.
- Patience is key – For adopted dogs who may have separation anxiety or an unknown background, or for pups who are just learning about the crate for the first time, success isn’t achieved overnight. For more challenging cases, it can take up to 6 months of positive association for a dog to get used to and enjoy their crate. For others, they may take to their crate straight away. Every dog is different, and patience makes all the difference in benefitting from crate training for the rest of their lives.
How Long Can My Dog Be Left Crated While I’m At Work?
The amount of time a dog can be left unattended in a crate depends greatly on how old they are and (in some instances) their breed. Giant breeds with a lazy reputation, like a St. Bernard or Newfoundland, could be happily crated for longer than an energetic Border Collie. According to PetCube, a good rule of thumb to follow would be:
Puppies 8 to 10 weeks – Very young puppies aged 8 to 10 weeks, so for the first couple of weeks after bringing a puppy home, maximum time in crate should not exceed 1 hour. 30 minutes to 1 hour is a great place to start with early crating.
11 to 14 weeks – Puppies aged 11 to 14 weeks are able to hold their “business” for a bit longer than younger pups, but they cannot be left in the crate for very long just yet. The recommended timeframe for this age range is around 1 to 3 hours at a time. While crate training at nighttime, owners may notice that pups wake them up around every 2.5 hours to go outside and relieve themselves, so the same rule should be followed during the day.
15 to 16 weeks – At around 15 to 16 weeks, to leave dog in crate while at work becomes a bit easier. At this age your pup can be comfortably left in their crate for around 3 to 4 hours, so they will be able to enjoy a day cozy in their den as long as you’re able to provide a break about halfway through your workday.
17 weeks to 1 year – From 17 weeks to about 1 year you’ll be able to comfortably and safely leave your dog in their crate for around 4 to 5 hours at a time. As long as you’re able to provide the dog a midday break for potty time and perhaps a walk, they should be able to comfortably and calmly enjoy their crate time throughout your workday.
- 1 year and up – Dogs aged 1 year and up should have no trouble remaining in a safe, escape proof, and cozy crate for 8 hours per day. Higher energy breeds and dogs with health concerns, like incontinence, may be the exception to this rule. Before structuring a crate schedule for your dog while you’re at work, take into consideration the individual dog and what their individual needs may be.
What If My Workday Is Longer Than 8 Hours?
If your average workday is longer than 8 hours, your dog will be spending too much time in their crate at once. According to Spirit Dog Training, dogs left in the crate for long hours could develop a negative association with their crate, separation anxiety, incessant barking behaviors, and destructive behaviors that may lead them to injuring themselves while in the crate. Dogs require a good amount of daily enrichment, and spending too much time in the crate takes that necessary time away from them.
Some days may run late, some commutes may run long. In these instances, stopping by to take the dog on a quick “sniffari” style walk, play a little game of fetch, or just enjoy some quality tug time while on a break from work if you’re able is a great idea. If you’re not able, having a friend, family member, or hired dog walker stop by to give the dog some time to stretch their legs works, too.
For some older dogs or lazier breeds, a workday that gets closer to 9 or 9 and a half hours may be no big deal as long as they have plenty of enrichment time when you get home. For others, their energy may be getting the better of them even before the 8-hour threshold.
How Can I Make The Crate More Comfortable?
Before you leave dog in crate while at work, you’re of course going to want to make sure the crate is the most comfortable environment possible. Just like we don’t like sleeping on hard, cold, unforgiving surfaces, our dogs don’t either. According to The Spruce, dogs spend around 15 hours per day snoozing, sleeping, and napping, and they want to find the softest and most comfortable place to do it. A Primo Comfort Pad is rugged and water resistant, giving your dog a cool, safe, and clean place to nap while they have their crate time during your workday.
If your dog tends to get a bit warm, a Dog Crate Fan may also be a welcome addition. Attached to the top or bottom of the crate door, it keeps air moving and your dog comfortable.
Lastly, your dog is probably going to get thirsty throughout the day. According to Altas Palmas Animal Clinic, dogs should drink around 1 oz of water per pound of body weight each day. A small bowl of fresh water left in the crate can make sure your dog remains hydrated while you’re at work.