I believe that the dog crate is a practical tool for dog owners; it can be used for training, transporting and keeping the dog safe while you’re away. However, due to the last point, many people wonder: how long can a dog stay in a crate?⏱
- Quick answer
- Do you really need to leave your dog in a crate for a long time?
- How long can a dog stay in a crate at night?
- What’s the danger of keeping a dog in a crate for too long?
- How to tell if your dog is comfortable in the crate
- Guidelines for leaving your dog in his crate for a long time
Puppies can stay in a crate for 2 – 4 hours, and adult dogs for 6 or even 8 hours. If necessary, an adult, healthy dog can be crated for up to 12 hours. However, the exact time depends on the dog’s age, health, and temperament.
❗️Even though the dog can tolerate a long time in the crate, this shouldn’t be a regular practice, i.e. the dog shouldn’t be closed all day for a week.
Do you really need to leave your dog in a crate for a long time?
As I said, an adult dog can stay crated for up to 12 hours, but the question is: why do it? As part of crate training, it is enough to crate the dog for 1-2 hours.
I can only imagine a few situations where owners need to keep their dogs in a crate all day:
- For transportation in a car or airplane. Since this is a one-time and necessary measure, there would be nothing wrong with it. But your dog should be used to the crate.
- To limit a dog’s mobility after surgery or to fence it off from other animals. In these cases, you can use the crate as a temporary aid, although you can think about alternatives, such as a playpen.
- To calm overly anxious dogs that can cause a lot of trouble and hurt themselves in your absence. But such animals need to be treated. The crate isn’t the solution.
📌Using a crate will be unwarranted if you lock up your dog just because you are afraid that your new pet will mess up something in your home while you are away.
If you take on that responsibility, you need to be willing to sacrifice something or turn on the savvy and secure your home differently. Some dog parents even set up a separate room for their pets.
How long can a dog stay in a crate at night?
Dogs sleep at night just like people. So there’s nothing wrong with locking your dog in a crate when needed. This can help if the dog tends to snoop around the house and disturb himself and other family members.
By the way, I have a separate article about should you lock your puppy in his crate at night.
But the exact time you can leave your dog crated at night depends on the situation. For example, you need to consider how long the dog can keep his bladder under control. Puppies under six months of age will likely need to go to the bathroom at night. On the other hand, older animals can take 7-8 hours or more.
What’s the danger of keeping a dog in a crate for too long?
Sure, dogs can tolerate regular long confinement, but it’s not good for their health and your relationship. Here are some consequences for dogs (according to PETA):
- bladder inflammation due to frequent abstinence;
- muscle hypertrophy;
- digestive disorders and changes in appetite;
- various behavioral problems, including aggression, separation anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
For these reasons, the animal welfare organization PETA opposes long-term crating but still agrees that sometimes crates can be used:
I joined in with this statement. While a crate can be handy for dog owners, it should not be overused. Instead, use it thoughtfully and with love for your pet!
How to tell if your dog is comfortable in the crate
You may have to keep your dog in a crate for an extended time. How can you be sure your pet is not suffering from it? I would say it’s okay under the following conditions:
- 👉your dog doesn’t behave in a disturbing way (he doesn’t try to chew on the crate or get out of it);
- 👉there are no accidents in the crate;
- 👉the dog looks and acts the same as before.
Any changes in behavior, diet, bowel movements, etc. indicate that your pet shouldn’t stay in the crate for so long.
I also recommend a camera like this. It allows you to monitor your dog from your smartphone from anywhere. With the camera, you can see if your Fido is doing well and not have to worry.
Guidelines for leaving your dog in his crate for a long time
There are a few conditions that allow you to use the crate for more than 4 hours:
- ✅The dog must be accustomed to the crate. It will be very stressful if your pet isn't familiar with the crate.
- ✅Make sure you use a large enough kennel where the dog can easily stand up, turn around and sit down.
- ✅Provide food and water. Use bowls that can be attached to the crate.
- ✅Take the dog for a walk before crating. He should have enough time to pee and poop, and also get plenty of exercise. Then the animal won't be so bored in the next few hours.
- ✅Don't leave your dog alone for long periods of time on a regular basis. If you have to do this often, consider alternatives like a playpen or a babysitter for your dog.
To keep your Fido from getting bored, leave him toys, but they should be safe. I made a personal list of the best crate toys. You can check it out.
Let's repeat the essential information. Here's how long a dog can be in a crate:
- puppies under one-year-old: 2 - 4 hours
- adult dogs: 6 - 8 hours (12 hours max if absolutely necessary)
Consider your dog's personality and needs. For example, older animals shouldn't stay in a crate for a long time.
- How to make OUTDOOR DIY dog potty area - June 18, 2023
- BEST dog organization ideas to keep your home tidy - June 1, 2023
- 10 Best behaved dog breeds - May 29, 2023