How Long Can You Crate Your Dog?

When does crating your dog become pet abuse? If you have decided to crate train your dog, there are a few things you need to know about crate training, including how long you can keep your dog in his crate.

Crate training can be very beneficial for dogs. It can help them regulate their stress levels, get good sleep and help them practice good habits. Some people think crate training is cruel, but many dogs like their crate; it’s a safe space for them.

The Crate Itself

First, you will need to prepare the crate. This will ensure that you will get the most benefits as possible. Make sure to have a set location for the crate and buy one of the correct material and size. Your crate should be large enough for your dog to lay down in, but not so large that they can sleep in one end and go to the bathroom in the other, as it defeats the purpose of a crate.

When To Crate Your Dog

The general rule of thumb is not to just crate your dog when you leave the house. If you do this, your dog will learn that when they are put in the crate, they will be left alone, and the crate will become something negative to them. Instead, crate them during regular intervals during the day when you’re home.

You can usually crate your dog the entire night, or for about 12 hours at a time. Your dog will probably sleep most of the time, and become active when you come back home. Make sure the dog can go to the bathroom and get rid of excess energy before being put in the crate.

During the day, always leave the crate open for your dog to use voluntarily. This will make the crate your dog’s own little safe space to go when they want some quiet time, which is especially important if you have small children.

If you have children, make sure they don’t go into the dog crate. The crate is meant for the dog inside the house, and it’s their own little space where they can go to rest. Letting your small children inside the crate might make the dog stress out and in some cases, even aggressive.

When You Should NOT Use A Dog Crate

Although most dogs like crates, not all of them do. It is cruel to keep a dog in a crate when they feel anxious or unhappy around one. An anxious or unhappy dog might cry, have his ears flat, tail down, and in extreme cases, vomit or pee inside the house.

Never force a dog into a crate when they don’t want to go in themselves. It’s okay if you need to guide them in a little, but never force the dog in with physical force. The dog will only start hating the crate.

In some cases, a dog might look happy when you first put them in the crate, but they later get anxious or sad. This can happen when the dog suffers from separation anxiety.

Dogs And Separation Anxiety

Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety should not be left alone in their crates. Symptoms of separation anxiety include:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Destructive chewing
  • Scratching at doors, windows and the crate
  • Non-stop barking and whining

In extreme cases, dogs which suffer from separation anxiety might hurt themselves while trying to escape a room or their crate. Those not in crates might destroy furniture or doors. Remember that dogs only do this because they feel fear at being alone. Regardless if you use a crate or not, if your dog has separation anxiety it’s best to seek out a professional, because the anxiety can affect your dog’s happiness and overall quality of life.

If you’re not sure if your dog whines or tries to escape his crate when you’re not there, set up a camcorder and record your dog while he is in his crate. You can listen to the tape and hear if he scratches, whines or is anxious. If they are, the dog needs to be better crate trained, often with the help of a professional.

Medical Reasons

There are several medical reasons that might make it hard for your dog to be crated for longer periods of time. If they’re soiling their crate due to medical reasons or sickness, you should not expect them to hold it. Take your dog to a vet and do not confine them in their crate until they are well again.

By nature, dogs do not soil in the same place they sleep. If they do, you can be certain something is wrong with your dog, sometimes medically. It could also be that your crate is too big. Older dogs which suffer from arthritis and other muscle and bone conditions should never be kept in their crate for longer than 5 hours (or overnight) as they need to be able to stretch out on a very regular basis. Being confined in a small place might make them have more pain, their joins might become stiff and even inflamed.


Last but not least, never use your dog crate as a form of punishment. By doing this, your dog will start seeing the crate as something negative. Often, we use the crate as a form of imprisonment for punishing the dog for doing something that dogs normally do, like chewing on something or barking.

All of these bad habits can be corrected by using the right techniques. Do not punish your dog because you haven’t trained them right. When raising a dog, you should be very patient and dedicated.


A crate doesn’t have to be forever. As dogs get older, learn good behavior and get into good habits, you might be able to get rid of a crate altogether! If your dog is well-behaved, can stay in the house by themselves, and do not have any anxiety, there is little reason for you to use a crate. This is the end goal, and if you get there, you can absolutely be proud of yourself.

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