From time to time we get posts from people with new puppies that are hoping to return to work full time and leave their puppy in a crate for all or part of the day. Sometimes these posts are from people that have already returned to work and are finding that this arrangement is not working out for them or their puppy. Firstly, I'd like to say that I do not blame or judge the puppy owners who come here for help with crating problems. These are people who have fallen in love with their new puppy and then find themselves struggling to juggle work and dog ownership. I think it is great that our experienced forum members treat these new puppy owners kindly and try to break it gently to them when in many cases they need to totally rethink their daily routines. I do on the other blame (and judge) dog breeders that sell puppies without making it clear what the needs of a young puppy are, and without insisting that their puppy buyers can meet those needs before swapping their puppies for cash. Most people buying a puppy have no way of knowing that there are things they need to know before bringing a puppy home. It’s no good us saying (or thinking) that they should have found out what was involved before they brought their puppy home. Because many people who have never had a dog in their lives, aren’t aware that there are ‘barriers’ to dog ownership at all. But the truth is there are. Barriers that is. One huge barrier to dog ownership is that puppies cannot be left alone all day. Another is that dogs of any age cannot ‘live’ happily in cages. Don’t get me wrong! I love crates and use them regularly. But using a crate responsibly requires knowledge and self discipline. And a crate is not a suitable substitute for the care and supervision of a responsible adult. Nor is it a substitute for a fully equipped outdoor kennel and run with the company of other dogs. Simply put, a crate is not a ‘home’ for a dog. It is a short term confinement and training tool. What happens when dogs are crated for too long? If you crate a puppy for too long, several things will happen. 1. The puppy will wet their bed. This is a more serious problem than you might think, because unlike small children, dogs do not ‘grow out of’ bedwetting On the contrary, once a dog has wet their bed, perhaps just two or three times, they will stop caring and will simply treat the bed as a toilet and lie in it. You know, the way dogs lie in muddy puddles on a summers day? That’s because dogs don’t mind being wet at all, and only instinct (to keep a clean den) prevents them bed wetting in the first place. You break this instinct at your peril 2. The second outcome of over-crating is that he puppy will become distressed and start to scream. If you have neighbors they will soon start complaining. Either way, the puppy will work itself into a state of terror and may well have diarhea inside the crate. This will be unpleasant for you. Worse still, the puppy will become afraid of the crate and you won’t be able to leave the puppy there, even for short periods of time without the puppy screaming and trying to escape. So how long is too long? How long depends on the puppy’s bladder control, on how often the puppy is being crated each day, and on the experiences the puppy has had in the crate so far. A puppy that has been gradually introduced to crating in the correct way (see this article for instructions) first being crated in your presence, then gradually being left alone, over a period of weeks rather than days, may be able to be left in a crate for a couple of hours during the day by the age of four or five months. But that doesn’t mean a couple of hours in the crate, outside for a pee, then back in the crate for another couple of hours. Essentially, a young puppy that has been crated and left alone for a couple of hours without fuss, has done a brilliant job. But now that puppy needs a bathroom break, fresh air and the chance to run about, a change of scene, a game and above all, some human company. It does not need to be let out for a quick pee, and then shut straight back in the crate again. If you do this, you may get away with it, depending on your dog’s temperament and bladder control. But be aware that many dogs will become distressed and miserable living under these conditions. And that you will likely end up with the problems outlined above. The bottom line is that a full-time job and a dog requires a lot of planning and help. And usually quite a bit of money. You’ll probably need someone to provide companionship, exercise, and bathroom breaks for your dog throughout their life. That means dog walkers, dog sitters, doggy day care etc. And while your puppy is very young you’ll need this help to happen frequently throughout the day. I really feel for those that have taken on a puppy, become deeply attached to it, then realize that their circumstances are simply not suitable for parenting a dog. It takes a lot of courage to own such a mistake and do something about it. For those that think they might not be able to keep their dog this article may help you. Rehoming Your Dog And of course, you'll find help and support here from other forum members.