There are a lot of benefits to using a crate. We need to remember that dogs are den animals and enjoy the feeling of security that crates bring. But is it cruel to crate a dog while at work? If you work a typical 8 hour day, then we would say it is borderline cruel to crate them for that long.
Except for sleeping, you shouldn’t keep your dog in a crate for longer than five hours at a time. One way you can get around this is to go home on your lunch break and let your dog out of the crate for an hour. That’s still not the ideal situation, but it’s much better than leaving them in the crate for 5+ hours at a time.
When it comes to a puppy, they shouldn’t stay in a crate for longer than 30 minutes at a time. But this article is assuming you have a full grown dog.
The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives to the crate. Below we will go over our top five alternatives, then we will talk more on why keeping your dog in a crate while at work isn’t the best idea.[toc]
Alternatives to a Crate While Working
Use a Large X-Pen
X-Pens are great! We use them when we know we are going to be gone all day. You can set them up to give your dog access to an entire room instead of being locked in the crate. It’s a good idea to leave a potty pad in the x-pen that way your dog can relieve themselves if they don’t have outside access.
If your dog is crate trained, you should also leave the crate in the x-pen with the door open. Remember, dogs are den animals and like having a “safe place” to lay down. When you’re at work, you want your dog to be able to go in and out of the crate at their own leisure. If they can come and go as they please, they’ll view the crate as something positive. If they feel trapped in it all day, they’ll see it as a prison.
Provide Access to The Backyard
We know that not all dogs should have unsupervised access to the backyard. For example, if your dog tends to dig under the fence, dig a bunch of holes, or bark non-stop while outside, you’ll need to keep your pup inside.
However, for dogs that tend to “mind their own business,” giving them access to the backyard while you’re at work will make it much easier on them. If you’re using an x-pen, you can set it up in a room with a doggy door in the backyard. Now your dog will have access to the area within the x-pen and the entire backyard.
If you’re going to give your dog access to the backyard, make sure you provide them with an area of shade they can relax in. You should also make sure they have plenty of water to drink on hot summer days.
Hire a Dog Sitter
If you can afford a dog sitter, this is your best option. You won’t have to isolate your dog to a single room. Better yet, your dog won’t be home alone all day bored out of his mind! You’ll want to make sure the dog sitter actually spends time with your dog and takes them on a few walks to get them out of the house.
Depending on the location, a dog sitter will cost anywhere between $10-$17 per hour. That might sound expensive, but you don’t have to hire them for the full eight-hour workday. You can hire them to stop by for two hours.
During the two hours, they can let the dog out of the crate or x-pen, spend some time playing with them and taking them on a walk. This should give you peace of mind knowing your dog isn’t alone all day and is getting loved on while you’re working.
If your dog is good around other dogs, doggy daycare is an excellent option. Plus, if you have a social dog, they’re going to have the time of their lives playing with their new friends each day.
The best part about doggy daycare is the fact that it’s reasonably priced (depending on the location). It can range from $12-$40 for a full day, or you can choose a monthly package which will cost anywhere between $200-$500/month.
If you’re going to be bringing your dog to daycare every workday, you’ll save a lot of money by choosing a monthly package. You’ll just need to make sure your dog is vaccinated and doesn’t have a history of aggression with other dogs.
Ask For Flexible Work Hours
When all else fails, you can ask for flexible work hours. Although we recommend saving this as your last option, if you NEED to crate your dog while at work, you should see if you can get flexible work hours. Going home at least two times during your workday to let your dog out of the crate to use the bathroom is much better than leaving your dog in their crate all day.
If you are unable to get flexible work hours to come home and check on your dog, we strongly recommend getting someone to check on them. Whether that be a dog sitter, friend, or family, you shouldn’t leave your dog in the crate all day without being let out at least once or twice.
Keep An Eye On Your Dog While At Work
If you decide to use one of the five alternatives we talked about above, it’s best to get a camera to keep an eye on your dog while you’re at work. This will give you peace of mind knowing they aren’t destroying your house or digging up your backyard. It’s also helpful to know they’re safe at home and haven’t somehow escaped.
If you want to take it a step further and have some extra money to spend, you can get something like the Furbo Dog Camera. This lets you keep an eye on your dog from your phone, AND it can dispense treats. If your pup is going to be alone for most of the day, they deserve a treat, don’t they!?
Reasons to Not Crate Your Dog While At Work
Generally speaking, if you can come home every once in a while to play with your dog, then you can crate them while at work. However, some dogs shouldn’t be crated at all while working.
Here are a few situations where you should avoid crating your dog even if you can come home a few times during the workday.
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety and they haven’t been properly crate trained specifically for separation anxiety (yes, the training is different), then it’s not smart to leave them in a crate.
This will make the anxiety even worse. Instead, you should follow our three step method to crate train a dog with separation anxiety. Once they’re comfortable with their crate, then you can start leaving them alone in it.
If they aren’t properly trained and you leave them alone in the crate all day, you’re decreasing the chances of ever being able to crate train them.
Dog is Sick
This should be common sense, but we’ve seen dog owners leave their dog in crates while sick. When a dog is sick, they’ll vomit and have diarrhea. This creates a very unsanitary environment for your dog. Not to mention the fact that dogs don’t like sleeping anywhere near where they go to the bathroom, so if they relieve themselves in the crate, they’re not going to want to sleep in the crate anymore.
Your Dog Won’t Stop Barking
If your dog continually barks when they’re in the crate, that means they need more crate training. This is not only annoying for your neighbors, but if you let your dog bark in the crate, it will become a habit that’s much harder to break in the future. Spend some more time crate training your dog if they’re continually barking. Once you get the Barking under control, then you can leave them in the crate alone.
The Crate Should Be a Cozy Retreat – Not Prison
Most dog owners use the crate wrong. They only use it when they need to lock their dog up for a period of time or when they leave their dog home alone. If that’s all you use the crate for, your dog will begin viewing the crate as a prison.
Instead, you should give your dog access to the crate at all times. When training them, you can even have your dog eat meals in it. This will associate the crate as a positive experience, almost like their own little bedroom.
It is not recommended to keep your dog in the crate while you’re at work. It’s better to use one of the five alternatives we discussed above. If you MUST leave your dog in the crate while you’re at work, make sure you or someone else can let them out on your lunch break.
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