Ideally, dogs should not be left kenneled for an entire day. Puppies, in particular, can only be expected to hold their bathroom needs for three or four hours. Older pups, however, can be kenneled during the day when necessary, providing basic needs are met. Whenever possible, have a responsible adult check on your pups at mid-day for a walk and play break.
When you crate your pup from the start of his life, he begins to associate his crate as his safe haven home, which makes lengthy crating more manageable. Never use crating as a punishment, and always ensure the crate size is big enough for your dog to comfortably stand up and turn around in. Include water in the crate at all times so your pup doesn’t get dehydrated. Provide appropriate toys and chews to keep him occupied, and add blankets or a dog bed to make the space cozy and comfortable.
When you know your dog will be crated for a lengthy period, start the day with feeding, exercise and ample time for elimination. Your pup will be worn down from the activity and will have taken care of his bathroom needs. When you come home, immediately let your pup out for a bathroom break, feeding and more play time.
A large outdoor kennel is a crate alternative that can be useful for pups who are regularly crated for full days. Outside kennels should have ample water and protection from the elements. Always clean dog waste immediately to create a clean and hygienic space for your dog, and follow the same guidelines for feeding and exercising your dog before you leave for the day, and when you come home.
If you can’t make it home mid-day to care for your dog, have a friend, neighbor or professional dog walker or pet sitter visit your home at least once a day. This individual can check on your pup, let him out for exercise and a snack, and clean up any “accidents” in the crate. This is especially important for young puppies and elderly dogs who need to move regularly and go to the bathroom frequently.
If you find your lifestyle creates a situation where your dog regularly spends a good portion of his time in a crate, consider other options. Doggy daycare provides off-site care and play. Doggie doors also work for many families, providing the dog is house-trained and is safely contained in his outdoor environment.
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