Crate training is a common practice and can be very helpful for dog owners and their pets when used in the right circumstances. Crates are often used when potty training a puppy or when owners are away from the home for extended periods. The crate is strictly a management tool to minimize accidents, destructive chewing, post-surgery safeguards or when flying or driving long distances with your dog.
No dog should be crated for long periods of time. A generally accepted rule of thumb is for puppies no more than 2 hours and for mature dogs, no more than 4.
While some dogs will view their crate as a “safe spot” to rest or retreat, it is not always their “den of zen” as we might like to believe. You are fundamentally caging your dogs, regardless of their age or disposition.
While crate training is helpful in puppyhood, as your dog learns to “signal” bathroom needs and stops inappropriate chewing things, designing a larger and entertaining play space in the home should be incorporated.
Using X-pens or baby gates, section off an area of your home for your dog to comfortably move about along with a few entertainment toys, water, a cuddle bed, slip-proof mats (for hardwood or tiled floors), and preferably near a TV or radio so they can listen to soft, calming music. You can include his crate, with the door left open, in a corner of his play space. Adding a Furbo or Petcube Camera to both view and communicate with your dog while you’re away may give both of you added peace of mind. Consider a Bark Potty or Doggie Lawn indoor “potty box” in case you can’t get home in time for proper outdoor relief.
Helpful advice from the Humane Society of the United States:
“A crate is not a magical solution to common canine behavior. If not used correctly, a dog can feel trapped and frustrated.
Never use the crate as a punishment. Your dog will come to fear it and refuse to enter.
Don’t leave your dog in the crate too long. A dog who’s crated all day and night doesn’t get enough exercise or human interaction and can become depressed or anxious. You may have to change your schedule, hire a pet sitter or take your dog to a daycare facility to reduce the amount of time they spend in their crate each day.
Crate your dog until they are able to be alone in the house without accidents or destructive habits. You can graduate your dog from a crate to an enclosed area of your home, like your kitchen, before giving them access to the full house when you’re away. The crate should always have a comfortable bed and the door left open when you’re home so your dog can enter it when they need a safe space.
A crate may be your dog’s den, but just as you would not spend your entire life in one room of your home, your dog should not spend most of their time in their crate.”
Tips for crate training for success are also found in their article: https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/crate-training-101
Crates can perform useful functions, including their use as feeding spaces for multi-dog families. Some dogs are aggressively protective of their food (referred to as “resource guarding”). To keep the peace at mealtime, it may be necessary to use crates for this specific purpose.
Dogs returning home from surgery require 24/7 supervision to prevent re injury during the healing process. Temporarily crating them may help keep them safe during a short period of recuperation.
Some dogs enjoy sleeping in their crates or used as a haven when household activity gets to be too much for them.
With specific and sparse use, a crate can be a helpful tool for dog owners. As described in this article however, it is not a band aid for owners who are gone all day, aren’t prepared for puppy training (beyond 2 hours which extends into the wee hours of the day/night), properly addressing separation anxiety (evidenced by frustrated destruction) or haven’t considered doggie day care, pet sitters or dog walkers to assist with the care and management of their beloved companions.