Crate or confinement

Crate or confinement  

Whether you use a crate or a confinement area or both, is going to depend on the length of time you’re leaving your puppy and their age. With young puppies (under 4 months), you won’t be able to leave them very long as they will need to eliminate frequently, but also because they’re simply too young! 

I generally suggest that puppies between 6 and 16 weeks are only crated for a max of 3 hours at a time (with exception to overnight*) and that they have many opportunities for exercise, elimination, and socialisation. Puppies should not be isolated for longer than 3 hours at a time. Remember that they are social creatures and have similar social requirements as we humans do! This may require a professional dog walker to assist in a regular workday.  

If you’re leaving for 3-4 hours (the max for a young puppy) I would suggest setting up a long-term confinement area. 

You can use an exercise pen with the crate inside, or you can do this by setting up a puppy-proofed room (kitchen, bathroom, laundry) with a baby gate. Don’t shut the door and isolate them – that can be very traumatic – use a baby gate so that they don’t feel completely shut in. 

In any long-term confinement area, you’ll want to ensure that they have their crate, a potty area, a water bowl, and some safe toys that dispense food. The potty area should be as far from everything else as possible – puppies generally do not soil their bedding or dining area unless they are ill. 

As they get older they can tolerate longer periods of time alone. 

Test both options:

  1. Short-term confinement: the crate
  2. Long-term confinement: the pen/puppy room

Which one makes your dog feel more comfortable? Choose that one.

You will still likely need to crate-train your dog, which takes time. Dogs don’t come pre-programmed to love the crate, no matter what anyone tells you. Take the time to really crate-train your puppy.  

If you’re worried, let’s talk. There are so many options! A little puppy proofing, appropriate exercise and enrichment can go a long way. 

It’s absolutely fine to crate a puppy overnight as long as the crate is large enough for them to stretch out, stand up, turn around. Expect to let a puppy out to potty during the night as needed and pop them back in when done. 

Let’s start this course with some realistic expectations while being armed with the knowledge to do a great job!