Crating your dog while at work is certainly one of the most controversial topics when talking about crate training.
Most of the dog owners do actually have to work full-time jobs, and some don’t have other family members to help around while at work.
leaving a puppy in a crate while at work is a very difficult decision to make.
Many ethical questions are asked about this particular topic, and many still unanswered.
This is in fact one of the biggest issues that still have some dog trainers preach against crate training.
While the benefits of crate training are clearly undeniable, measures are to be taken not end up hurting your dog.
Of course, every dog is different, and there are plenty of other factors to take into consideration before taking action.
You need to know at what age you can crate a dog while at work, for how long he should be crated and what other actions you have to take to make sure your dog isn’t suffering.
In this article I will be going over multiple points and questions you may have to finally decide if crating the while at work is the best solution for your dog, and if not I will be providing some practical solutions for you.
So let us dive into the crate training while at work process and see how you can do it guilt-free.
Crate training a puppy while at work
If you’ve read the subheading carefully, you will notice that I’ve used the word “puppy” and not dog. In this particular article, I do make sure it’s clear because in this case, those are two distinct cases.
Crate training a puppy
Crate training a puppy is way more different than crate training an adult dog, you can check out my crate training guide to see details about the two.
Puppies have special needs that can’t be missed when preparing for crate training.
A normal puppy(depending on the breed) is not able to control his bladder for a long period; Which makes it almost impossible to crate him for extended amounts of time.
Puppies under the age of six months can’t and should not be crated for longer than five hours at most and that is with a great amount of exercise before and after and eventually at a younger age with potting breaks.
The five hours period is for the full six months old puppies and you take one hour less with every month; Meaning at five months old the limit is four hours and one hour less for every month.
This five hours limit makes it almost impossible to crate while at work. What are your options?
Only if you have flexible working hours and can come home from work at lunchtime to walk and exercise your puppy an let him eliminate, you can not crate him.
Crating a young puppy for eight hours is going to harm your puppy and eventually cause dangerous behavioral issues.
I want to make it clear if you can’t come home or have someone break those eight hours by walking the puppy, you do not crate the puppy while at work.
Crate training an adult puppy
Crating an older dog while at work may be easier to achieve than having a young puppy. However, you can’t just lock your dog into the crate and take-off.
Older dogs do control their potting breaks better and can tolerate longer crating periods.
You can eventually crate an adult dog for eight to nine hours while at work. But any time beyond that is just cruel.
If you have to crate your dog while at work you can’t crate him again when you come home. The nin hours are roughly what an adult dog can handle per day.
You also have to do some serious exercising before and after going to the crate. Your dog has to let his energy out so he can relax in his crate.
You also want your dog to eliminate just before going into the crate to avoid potting incidents.
Some people think that no matter the age, leaving a dog in a crate while at work is cruel.
let us dig deeper into that.
Is it cruel to crate a dog while at work
I have written an article about the cruelty in crate training, where I made it clear how crate training is not only good for both the dog and his guardian but also a great tool when done correctly.
Now, this is different and I can see why people are worried about dogs being in crates for long hours.
Nonetheless, as I’ve pointed earlier this is only available for older dogs and is completely rejected for puppies.
Even with older dogs the crate is only used for sleeping during the night which is fine as the dog’s energy is down, and never used before or after work hours.
So there are some serious rules when crate training for long hours.
A normal adult dog will probably spend about seven to eight hours in his crate without owner influence. However, it is not for one long period, hence the exercising before and after the crating.
There is no cruelty in using the crate while at work if you follow these strict rules and make it up to your dog when you’re home with some quality playtime.
Your dog is a very smart animal that can adapt to different situations, I think he can handle your work schedule.
If the crate training is done correctly, your adult dog will have no problem dealing with crating for eight hours as he considers the crate as a happy place.
Your dog will be motivated for the coming home every day if you do right by him when you come home.
What should I do with my puppy when I go to work
We saw earlier that leaving the puppy crated all day is not a good idea. It is even cruel and harmful. So what should you do with your puppy when you go to work.
You should make sure you make arrangements before you adopt a puppy if you have to work full-time.
If you have flexible working hours and can come home during the day; It is fine and you can let your puppy out while at your break and exercise enough then crate again when leaving back to work.
Puppies can handle multiple crating sessions just not long periods.
You can arrange for a friend or a family member to walk the dog while you’re gone.
There are other alternatives that we will go over in the solutions segment of the article.
Leaving dog out of crate while at work
You may have thought of leaving the dog out of the crate while at work, this could be an option but I personally advise against it unless you have some solid dog training established and your dog can handle it.
But again it’s a dog, a curious animal that could get into trouble while you’re not around; That’s why crating the dog while at work is a far better option than leaving him in a dangerous place.
Some dog owners often lock their dogs in the bathroom or another room, but it’s just another larger crate.
If you are going to leave the dog out of the crate you have to make a great job making sure he doesn’t get hurt; That you can do by dog-proofing the area he is going to be in.
You should set up some fences, or enclosure to keep the dog from accessing dangerous areas.
Also, you have to make sure your dog won’t be able to just jump over it.
You want to install the crate inside that area, so the dog can go in there when he feels like it. It is best that you can leave some toys in there and prepare a potting area if your dog is likely to need to eliminate.
If you choose to just let the dog out within a room make sure there is nothing that can hurt him in there like sharp or heavy objects, any cables or tv on a stand somewhere he could walk into.
You also want to double check the windows just in case, dogs could get tempted to go outside.
Nobody wants to come home to a missing dog; I know the feeling and it just burns for days.
Good news I found my puppy, thanks to a lovely lady.
leaving a puppy in playpen while at work
Leaving the puppy while at work is a little bit harder than an older dog, as he still learning what should and shouldn’t be done in the house.
Yous still haven’t established good house manners that can keep the puppy away from trouble.
It is also easier when it comes to sog-proofing an area if that’s your approach; the puppy is less likely to jump over a playpen or a fence you’ve used to limit his access.
Leaving the puppy in the playpen could actually be a great way to overcome the crating while at work dilemma, it offers more space to the puppy to move around play and eventually go in the crate if he wants.
So what kind of playpen should you use, what should you place in there and how to keep the puppy happy in there when gone to work.
Choosing the playpen
This is not some heavy expensive investment you have to think much about, you should just find something that can keep your puppy safe and easy to set up and easy to store later when at home.
There is a great variety of playpens out there make sure the size fits, for larger breeds you want something higher and solid, while for small breeds usually, height won’t matter as much as space.
I would suggest using a large space playpen, that obviously fits the indoor but also for you; pet owners with backyards, one that is solid enough to be used both out and indoor.
I was able to find a great variety of dog playpens that fit every home on amazon for some really low prices. You can check the prices yourself here.
What to place in the playpen
Just having the puppy in a playpen doesn’t make it easier for the puppy, if you just leave him in there you just installed a bigger crate.
You want to have in your mind the puppy’s needs, food maybe water or toys…
The first obstacle with crating a puppy is the potting breaks. The puppy can’t manage eight hours with no potty break.
You want to make sure to have a specific potting area that you work with your puppy on it for a while.
You don’t want the puppy to just pee or poop anywhere he feels like in the playpen.
The puppy pads are a great way to start and then reduce the area so your dog is used to pot in a specific area.
You want your dog to enjoy his time, and what a better way than toys that the puppy likes.
The kong toy is a great one that you can use to keep your puppy interested.
Just try to secure the toys within the playpen so he doesn’t lose it. You also want the used toys to be safe.
Water and food
Being out for a long time your dog may need to have a snack. It’s great to cheer him up.
Water is also important but you sure have to secure it to the playpen, dogs are playful animals and my make a mess with water.
Do not put too much food in there, as they will feed on it the moment you leave.
This one is really a no brainer, as we want the dog to get used to it so once he can handle being in it for longer hours you can switch back to the crate.
Even with an open space, the puppy will need to go into his crate at times to relax. So you want to put it in some corner of the playpen where there is less light.
Make sure to secure the door to avoid incidents, and to let the puppy go in and out freely.
Crate training while working a full-time job
Working a full-time job is great but can be inconvenient for a dog owner, the average working hours per week is between 44 to 47 per week in the USA; source.
This leaves little time for people to take care of their dogs as they should, and find the time to actually give the dog the affection he needs.
Some working dog owners go back from work let the dog out for a few minutes then go out or go to their room for rest which will eventually lead to severe behavior problems.
The dog especially one that spends eight to nine hours in the crate while their guardians at work needs exercise from twenty to thirty minutes before going into the crate, and they need double that after being in the crate for long periods.
And even after that, they need to be around their guardians moving around playing softly and enjoying a toy so they can let go of their energy.
It sure is hard for you working a full shift going home thinking of your bed but you need to have some rules if you really like that puppy.
One of the best routines is to do your shopping after you come home don’t shop for the whole week, just make it a way to go out of the house on foot with your dog every day getting groceries and exercising your puppy.
Once you’re back home you can have some soft games with your dog and to be honest, doing so is amazingly great for you as well.
being able to move around the house and those little trips after work will help you deal with the daily stress of your work.
Confining a puppy while at work
We said earlier that using the playpen is your best option for crating a dog while at work if you don’t have flexible working hours.
If the playpen isn’t an option for you here is how to confine a puppy while at work.
You will need some pet-gates to secure all exits, and the same thing as we saw with the playpen make sure to pick the right size.
It is better to find an open space like a sunny living-room that you can secure with pet-gates.
I do recommend a place with windows, but make sure they are secured.
Have some toys on a soft rope in different places around the open space you have chosen.
Put some treats around the area but not too much.
Crating your dog while at work practical solutions
I can suggest plenty of solutions to Crating a dog while at work; Some are free of charge others may need some investment.
So let us start with paid solutions :
This is actually one of the cheapest ways to make sure your dog gets his 30 minutes of exercise while you are at work.
You can have a dog walker twice a day if you don’t have the time to do so after you come home.
How much does a dog walker charge
It actually depends on the area but the average charge for a dog walker ranges between 20$ to 30$ per half an hour.
If you hire one for twice a day you can get the service for about 40$ an hour.
Where do I find a dog walker
There are literally thousands of registered professional dog walkers on job boards.
You can check at the local pet store and veterinarians they often leave their cards in there.
This also a cheap solution where you can hire a dog sitter to watch your dog at your home.
You can also leave the dog at the sitter’s home for an extra fee.
How much does a dog sitter charge
Dog sitters often charge about 40$ a day, for feeding the dog and watching him.
Dog walks are not included but charged for the same rate as the dog walker for an extra 20$.
Where do I find a dog walker
Basically the same thing as the dog walker, online temporary work boards or local pet stores.
This is almost the same idea as the dog sitter, but the service is provided in their own property.
You can leave your puppy while going to work and get him at night.
I personally think this is a better solution as the dog is with other dogs so he won’t be lonely.
You have to pay extra for dog daycare more than you would for a freelancer.
How much does a dog daycare charge
Dog daycare costs around 40$ to 50$ per day and depending on the services it can go up to a 100$ a day.
You can apply for a monthly subscription starting at 550$ a month.
Again it depends entirely on the services you can even apply for a spa treatment.
They would for a medium-range offer bath service, feeding and all basic playground.
Take your dog to work
Some employers will actually let you bring your dog to work. This could be a good idea for some but not so much for other professions.
If you work in an open space like a building site… bringing your dog to work may not be such a bad idea.
Just make sure your puppy is safe at all times.
Have a friend walk your puppy
You can ask a friend a family member or a neighbor to check on your dog.
Usually, people don’t dare to ask for this kind of service, but most nice people if free wouldn’t mind doing so.
I used to leave my dog with my neighbor, and she didn’t mind it was a great playtime with her dog Rita.
You want to ask someone responsible enough, not that crazy friend you can never count on.
Exchange dog sitting
You can check out forums, there is plenty of people who work night shits who would exchange dog sitting with others.
There are forum pages dedicated to crating the dog while at work, where you can arrange an exchange.
This is a free solution and you can make sure the person taking care of your dog is serious enough. After all, you are going to be taking their dog too.
Just try and make many contacts when it’s impossible for that person to assume your shift, there is always someone else.
Setting up a puppy playpen
You can always use the playpen as explained during this article. Sure having someone taking care of your puppy is great. But if you have nobody available or you are new in town and can’t afford dog sitting services this is a safe alternative.
Be sure to puppy-proof the area within the playpen.
Choose the right size playpen to avoid incidents.
Dog-proofing a room
You can also use pet-gates to secure a room for your puppy to be in while you are at work.
Don’t put the puppy in a basement or a dark room, a relatively sunny living area would be great.
The size depends on the breed of the dog you have.
Large dogs can go through if not solid so you may have to invest in a heavy-duty pet-gate.
Keep in mind when crating a dog while at work
Crating a dog while at work is, in fact, the hardest decision to make as a dog owner.
I am sure that if you love your dog enough and care for his well being; You will make arrangements for him to feel safe and secure even when you are not around.
Dogs are a great addition to anyone’s life so make it a relief from work, not another burden.
You don’t have to make great investments to make a puppy happy, they’ll feel it when you are.