How long can a dog be in a crate?

A crate is a handy tool for dog owners; it can be used for training, transportation, and keeping the dog safe while you are away. However, due to the last point, many people wonder: how long can a dog be in a crate?

Quick answer

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. But the exact time depends on the dog’s age, health, and temperament.

Although the dog can tolerate a long time in the crate, it should not be a regular practice, i.e., the dog should not 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 must keep dogs in a crate all day.

  1. For transportation in a car or airplane. Since this is a one-time and necessary measure, nothing would be wrong with it. But your dog should be used to the crate.
  2. 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.
  3. To calm overly anxious dogs who can make a lot of trouble and hurt themselves in your absence. But such animals need to be treated. Crate is not the answer.

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 aside a separate room for their pets.

dog room

How long can a dog stay in a crate at night?

Dogs sleep at night as people do. So there is nothing wrong with locking your dog in a crate if necessary. It can help if the dog tends to snoop around the house, disturbing 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. You have to consider, for example, how long the dog can hold his bladder in check. Puppies under six months probably 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 implications 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.
dog escape the crate
Dogs that are kept in a cage for long periods are prone to disruptive behavior

For these reasons, the animal welfare organization PETA opposes long-term crating but still agrees that sometimes crates can be used:

PETA about keeping dog in the crate

I joined in with that 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 know if your dog is comfortable in the crate

You may have to keep your dog in a crate for an extended time. How do you know that your pet is not suffering from it? I would say it’s okay under the following conditions:

  • your dog is not behaving disruptively (not trying to chew on or get out of the crate);
  • there are no accidents in the crate;
  • the dog looks and acts the same as before.

Any changes in behavior, diet, stool, etc., indicate that your pet should not stay in the crate that long.

I also recommend a camera like this, with which you can monitor your dog from your smartphone from anywhere. With the camera, you will see if your Fido is doing well and won’t be too worried.

Guidelines for leaving your dog in his crate for long periods

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 is unfamiliar with crates or if you have only left it only for 5-10 minutes before.
  • Make sure you use a large enough kennel where the dog can easily stand up, turn around and sit down.
  • Leave food and water. Use bowls that attach to the crate.
  • Take the dog for a good walk before crating. The dog should have enough time to pee and poop and also get plenty of exercises. Then the animal won't feel so bored in the next few hours.
  • Do not leave your dog for long periods regularly. If you have to do this often, consider alternatives such as a playpen or babysitter for your dog. You can check my article about leaving a dog in a crate while at work.
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.
pug puppy in crate with toys

Conclusions

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 should not be left in a crate for long.

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