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Is It Cruel to Crate a Dog While at Work? Controversy Ahead!

Crate training has been a widely debated topic among dog owners, with concerns about the ethicality and impact on a dog’s well-being.

While PETA argues that crates will not help your puppy learn to hold it and do not promote a feeling of security, many experienced behaviorists argue that when done correctly, crate training can be a valuable tool in providing a safe and secure space for your furry friend.

I’m 100% against stuffing your dog in a crate and leaving them there.

Furthermore, I’m 100% against crate time if any of the following criteria are not met:

  1. Mental and physical exercise beforehand
  2. Sufficient water
  3. Appropriate crate size
  4. Leaving the dog in there for >4 hours

The last point is the crux of the problem if you want to leave your dog in a crate while at work.

A normal 9-5 job plus commute puts you well over the 4-hour limit of keeping a dog in the crate.

8 hours non-stop in a crate is not acceptable.

If you’re able to organize a dog walker to walk your dog twice while at work, that may be doable but still probably not quality time in the long run.

I’m not against limited crate training in general. But long-term, you should teach your dog how to roam the house freely without issues (e.g. separation anxiety).

Jack Russell stands inside a crate.
Photo by inside-studio on Depositphotos

I’ve used the crate in the beginning but ditched it pretty quickly. If you decide to take this route, check my crate training guide first.

The key is to understand the purpose behind crate training and how to implement it humanely. But in the end, the sad reality is that it’s a tool favored by lazy dog owners.

Why I’m Against Crating While At Work

The controversy surrounding crate training often stems from misconceptions and misuse. Crates should never be used as a form of punishment, and it’s crucial to ensure that the dog associates the crate with positive experiences (gradual introduction, treats and toys, etc.).

However, leaving your dog crated while at work for the foreseeable future is not the solution as it’s just too long.

Nowadays, an increasing number of dog owners express concern about crating their pets while they are away at work, fearing that it may be cruel or stressful for the animal.

It’s important to stress that when used improperly, crating can indeed be detrimental to a dog’s mental and physical health. Dogs are social animals that thrive on companionship and interaction, so being confined for extended periods without mental stimulation can lead to anxiety and behavioral issues.

But most importantly, I’m against crating a dog while at work as the alternative of just training them to stay alone is pretty doable if you put the time into research and training.

Balancing Independence and Safety

One of the primary reasons people crate their dogs while at work is to prevent destructive behavior or accidents in the home. Dogs, especially puppies, may be prone to chewing furniture or other household items when left unsupervised.

Crating provides a controlled environment where the dog is less likely to engage in destructive behavior and is safe from potential hazards.

However, it’s essential to strike a balance between using the crate for safety and allowing the dog some independence. A crate should never be used as a long-term confinement solution as the cons outweighs the pros.

If you are away for an extended period, consider hiring a dog walker or enlisting a neighbor to provide a break for your pet. Additionally, leaving engaging toys in the crate can help keep your dog mentally stimulated during your absence.

While you should keep the habit of hiring a dog walker or sitter, I’d personally still recommend most owners to get rid of the crate long-term.

Creating a Positive Crate Experience

Ensuring that your dog has a positive experience in the crate is paramount to addressing concerns about cruelty. Start by gradually introducing the crate to your dog in a positive light. Leave the crate door open, allowing your dog to explore and enter voluntarily.

Use treats, toys, and praise to encourage your dog to enter the crate willingly. Once your dog is comfortable inside, start closing the door briefly and gradually increase the duration.

It’s crucial not to force your dog into the crate or use it as a form of punishment. The crate should be associated with positive experiences and never used as a tool for discipline.

Consider feeding your dog meals in the crate to create a positive association with mealtime and the crate. By making the crate a comfortable and enjoyable space, you can alleviate concerns about your dog feeling stressed or unhappy while crated.

But in the end, dogs probably don’t love their crate as many owners think but rather routinely step into it as that behavior was rewarded in the past and it forms a habit. Some dogs never take to their crates.

Just Teach Your Dog To Stay Alone

As stated in my post on how to transition a dog out of the crate (which I did with my Rottweiler pup), it’s best to teach them to roam the house freely.

But beyond that, getting a dog if you have a full-time job without a household member to take care of the dog might not be the best idea.

Before bringing a dog into your life, it’s crucial to assess the time commitment required for their well-being and happiness. Dogs are social animals that thrive on companionship and interaction, and leaving them alone for extended periods regularly can lead to loneliness, stress, and behavioral issues.

While there are ways to mitigate the impact of long work hours, such as hiring a dog walker or relying on a trusted friend or neighbor to check on your pet, it’s not perfect and we want it to be as close to perfect as possible.

Consider if it might be best to delay bringing a furry friend into your home until your lifestyle allows for more dedicated attention.

In conclusion, if you decide to take the crate training route, please do it responsibly as that’s essential for the well-being of your furry companion. A crate can serve as a beneficial tool for short-term confinement, providing security and preventing destructive behavior.

However, it’s crucial to remember that a crate should never be a long-term solution (>4 hours at a time) for a dog’s isolation. Striking a balance between crate time and opportunities for exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction is key.

Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.

About Danielle

Equipped with 5+ years of expertise as a Rottweiler owner, I partner with licensed veterinarians and trainers to share research-backed and actionable advice for you and your furry friend.