Crates are excellent tools to utilize for puppies. They can serve many functions, including: providing a haven and bed to enjoy and escape to with company and keeping naughty puppies a safe place to be kept when unsupervised. Plus, it’s widely beneficial for pups to be “crate-trained” so that when they inevitably need to spend the day at the vet, they aren’t overwhelmed and stressed by spending time in a kenneled space.
So when is it safe to leave your sweet pup out of the crate unsupervised? The quick answer is: It depends! Here are some things to think about:
1. Take “baby steps” in giving your pup freedom outside of the crate. Try for a short trip (perhaps just 5 minutes) and see how he/she does. Or perhaps try an intermediate step in which your pup is out of the crate but has limited access to the entire home, perhaps starting with a gated room in which the crate is located. Pro-tip: Puppy proof EVERYTHING before leaving. Take all human and animal medications off the counters, keep all trash cans guarded. Ensure only previously-test safe toys are left with him/her.
2. Try a night outside of the crate first. This allows a bit of freedom while you are still in the home and can supervise while sleeping with one eye open. Pro-tip: Here is a good guideline for how often a puppy needs to urinate. Take their age in months + 1 = number of hours they can “hold it” (I.e. a 2 month old puppy might need to go outside 2 months + 1 = every 3 hours). This isn’t a steadfast rule, but a good starting point!
3. Consider a “puppy spy cam.” There are many options available that allow you to watch your pup at home from your smart phone. Some even enable you to talk to them or throw them a treat! These can be very beneficial tools so that you can monitor how your pup is doing. Try staying nearby during initial time alone or instill the use of a neighbor. If they are getting anxious or getting into trouble in the home, you can quickly scamper on home to intervene.
And remember, crate or no crate, to get your new furry family members used to being left alone. Life has changed for many of us, for better or worse, and while many dogs are loving the additional bonding time with us at home, our dogs still need to know how to spend some quality alone time so that when we do need to leave the house, they are comfortable doing so. If you do find your pup suffering from separation anxiety, contact your veterinarian or a reputable trainer early on for some guidance.
Disclaimer: The content of The Bethel Grapevine’s Ask the Vet blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be treated as such. If you have a medical question about your pet, call or visit your veterinarian or a veterinary hospital.