Wouldn’t it be great if we could all be stay-at-home dog parents and not have to worry about what to do with our sweet puppy when we leave? Unfortunately, real life requires us to leave her alone in a crate while we go to work. Crating her for too long, however, can be detrimental to her happiness and your housebreaking efforts.
How long your pup can be crated depends on her age, size and physical condition. According to Service Dog Central, she can usually wait to do her business for as many hours equivalent to her age in months, plus one. So if she is 2 months old, she should be able to hold it for three hours. At night she may be able to hold it an hour or two longer so long as she’s had adequate exercise and opportunities to go outside before going to bed. If she is a very young puppy, you will want to take her out once or twice during the night.
If your dog is more than a year old, she can probably withstand crating for up to nine hours a day and overnight. Her time outside the crate must include lots of exercise and interaction with the family. At this point, you may want to experiment with giving your dog more freedom in the house while you are gone and keep her crate door open so she can go in it if she wants.
Typically, larger breed dogs can hold their bladder longer than small breeds, so the size of your dog should be taken into consideration. Also, if your pup has any physical conditions or is taking medications that cause her to need to eliminate more frequently, you should take that into account. Some dogs who have come from puppy mills or lived in a shelter for a long time may not do well in a crate, especially for housebreaking purposes. Because they were caged for a long period, they may no longer be sensitive to eliminating where they sleep. Their time in the crate should be limited or may not be a good idea at all.
If you can’t come home at the intervals needed to take your pup out, check into hiring a dog walker or neighbor to take her out during the day. Doggie day camp also is a great option for working dog parents and has the bonus of providing socialization time for your pup.
Jodi L. Hartley has been a writer and public relations professional since 1992. Her experience includes public relations and marketing for a pet service/retail business, as well as volunteer work with animal rescue organizations. Hartley holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and an M.B.A.