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Why Crate Train Your Dog?

(continued)

Using a Crate to Prevent Destructive Behavior

In addition to acting as a house-training tool, your dog’s crate can prevent her from being destructive. Dogs and puppies need to learn to refrain from doing a lot of things in their homes, like digging on furniture or rugs, chewing table legs, cushions or other household items, and stealing from garbage cans or counters. To teach your dog not to do things you don’t like, you must be able to observe and monitor her behavior. Confining her in a crate can prevent unwanted behavior when you can’t supervise her or have to leave her home alone. If your dog has a chewing problem and you’d like more information about how to resolve it, please see our article, Destructive Chewing.

How Long to Crate Your Dog

At night when dogs sleep, their body systems and elimination slow down. This is why they can go all night without eliminating once they’re old enough to have sufficient bladder and bowel control. But during the day, neither puppies nor adult dogs should be crated for more than four or five hours at a time. When crating a puppy for more than two hours, it’s best to provide water by attaching a water bottle dispenser to the crate. (Using a bowl can create a mess.) Follow these daytime duration guidelines to avoid compromising your dog’s well-being or causing behavior problems:

Age Maximum time in crate

8-10 weeks 30-60 minutes

11-14 weeks 1-3 hours

15-16 weeks 3-4 hours

17+ weeks 4-5 hours

If you have a puppy and you work all day, it’s essential that you give your puppy a midday break from the crate every day for at least her first eight months. Even with a break, though, your puppy will still have to tolerate two four-hour periods of confinement. That’s a long time, so make sure she gets a good romp in the morning before you leave for work, during lunch and after work. If you can’t go home during your lunch break, you can hire a dog walker to visit your puppy midday, but keep in mind that she still needs quality time with you. She should get to enjoy some playtime in the morning and another play and training session when you come home from work.

If you’re using the crate for house training, remember that it’s a temporary tool. Your goal is to create a dog who can be trusted to have freedom in at least part of your house while you’re gone. When you’ve accomplished this, you can still keep the crate for your dog to sleep or hang out in. Just remove the door or leave it open.

An adult dog can be crated for as long as eight hours on occasion, but daily crating of this length could compromise your dog’s mental and physical well-being. Be sure that she’s received adequate exercise before a long stay in the crate-at least 30 to 60 minutes. If your dog is crated overnight as well, she should receive at least 60 to 90 minutes of outdoor exercise in the morning and before being put back in the crate at night.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

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