The Right Amount Of Time To Leave Your Dog In Their Crate

The Right Amount Of Time To Leave Your Dog In Their Crate

Knowing how long can a dog stay in a crate is key to ensuring the crate remains a happy, safe, and relaxing spot for your very best friend. Dogs tend to love a den space, but what they don’t want is a space that starts to feel more like unwilling confinement rather than their favorite rest area. The right amount of time to keep your dog in a crate depends on your dog, their age, and how often you’re getting your dog mental and physical stimulation while they’re out and about exploring their world.

How Long Can You Crate A Dog?

Before getting into exercise, rest, and your dog’s specific temperament, it pays to know the basics. According to the Humane Society of Western Montana, a good rule of thumb to follow is to take your puppy’s age in months, add one, and that’s their maximum crate hours before they need a potty and exercise break. This means that a 2-month-old puppy should be able to spend around 3 hours in their crate before needing a break. A 3-month-old puppy can make it 4 hours, a 4-month-old puppy can make it 5 hours, and so on until a puppy reaches around 7 or 8 months of age.

Generally speaking, pet parents should avoid keeping their dogs crated without a break for periods longer than a maximum of 8 to 9 hours. According to Reader’s Digest, leaving your dog crated for extended periods of time can lead to dogs developing depression, anxiety, and even permanent negative association with their crate. You work so hard to build positive feelings around the crate, so you certainly don’t want to undo all of that hard work simply by regularly leaving your dog in their crate too long. No pet parent wants to lose the benefit that crates provide.

Mental And Physical Exercise Make Crate Time A Happier Time

If you need to crate your dog for longer periods of time regularly, stimulation matters. According to Daily Paws, exercising your dog physically and mentally helps them to burn off all that excess energy they may be feeling, allowing them to remain content resting in their crate comfortably for longer periods of time. A few ideas for easy mental and physical stimulation before or after spending longer periods of time in the crate are:

  • Puzzle toys – Puzzle toys that hide special treats, and really make your dog work for them, are excellent ways to stimulate and reward your dog. It encourages your dog to use their nose to sniff out the good stuff, while they use their brains in figuring out just how to get those treats out of their toys and into their bellies. Some puzzle toys are smaller and crate friendly, and these are an excellent option if you need to crate your dog while you’re at work and may not have all the time in the world for a long walk.
  • A good walk – The best way to stimulate your dog before crate time is, of course, a good walk. Walking has them moving their bodies, using their noses, and taking in their surroundings – giving all of their senses a workout all at the same time. By the time they get home, they’re often quite ready to settle in and rest after such a stimulating experience.
  • Interactive play – On rainy days or days when you have a short schedule, interactive play is an excellent way to stimulate your dog before crate time. Some tug in the living room, a few fetches in the backyard, or a trick session with plenty of rewards engages your dog in all of the right ways to get ready for rest.

Personality Matters When It Comes To How Long Can A Dog Stay In A Crate

While 8 to 9 hours is the maximum amount of time your adult (or near-adult) dog should stay in a crate, not all dogs will personally agree. “Lazier” dog breeds like a Bulldog or Bernese Mountain Dog might be perfectly happy with a 9-hour workday hanging out in their crate, and some may even be perfectly okay with additional crate time given they’re provided potty and exercise breaks in between crate stays. Higher energy breeds, however, like a Border Collie or a Belgian Malinois, are likely to prefer shorter crate stays and may require greater stimulation periods to remain happy.  When determining how long should a dog be in a crate, the personality of your individual dog will come into play and two different dogs may have two different personal limits.

Whether it’s for a two hour span while you go to the store, or a full 8 hour workday, having the right crate is always of the utmost importance. With a great crate and patient crate training, you’re giving your dog the gift of safety, comfort, and security no matter where their day takes them.

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