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Is it best for a dog to sleep in a crate?

Crate training is a popular method many dog owners use to housebreak and train their dogs. A crate provides a safe, enclosed space for your dog to sleep and rest. But is crating your dog the best option? Here we’ll explore the pros and cons of crate training so you can decide if it’s right for your furry friend.

The potential benefits of crate training

There are several potential advantages to crate training your dog:


Because dogs naturally avoid soiling in their sleeping area, crating your puppy or unhousetrained adult dog when you can’t supervise them is an effective way to prevent indoor accidents. As long as you take your dog outside frequently for potty breaks, they’ll learn to hold it until let out of the crate.

Reduced anxiety

The enclosed space of a crate provides a safe den-like environment that can have a calming effect on some dogs. This can reduce separation anxiety, fearfulness, and nervous behaviors.

Destructive chewing prevention

By confining your dog when you’re away, crating prevents damage to your home and belongings from chewing, digging, or other destructive behaviors resulting from boredom, anxiety, or lack of supervision.

Increased safety

Crates protect your dog from household dangers like ingesting toxins or electrical cords when unsupervised. They also prevent access to garbage cans and countertop surfing.


A crate allows you to easily transport your dog by vehicle and provides them with a familiar space if staying in an unfamiliar overnight location like a hotel or friend’s home.

Training tool

When used properly, a crate is an effective aid for training puppies and dogs. It teaches them to accept confinement, improves housetraining success, and prevents reinforcement of problem behaviors like barking or chewing that result from free roaming.

Potential drawbacks of crate training

While crating a dog can provide benefits, there are also some potential downsides to consider:


Although short-term crating can be beneficial, keeping your dog confined too often or for long periods can lead to frustration, anxiety, and loss of housetraining progress. Puppies less than 9 months old shouldn’t be crated for more than 3-4 hours at a time.

Isolation and reduced socialization

Excessive crating prevents dogs from interacting with their families. It also reduces opportunities for socialization and environmental enrichment that come from being part of household activities.

Discomfort or injury

Ill-fitting, improperly equipped, or unsanitary crates can cause discomfort, sores, injury, or illness. All crates should allow your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably.

Escape attempts

Dogs confined against their will may panic, fearfully scratch and bite at the crate, and attempt to break out – potentially resulting in broken teeth, bloody nails, and other injuries.

Housetraining setbacks

If a puppy is consistently crated for overly long periods before they can control their bladder and bowels, they may soil their crate out of necessity and lose progress in housetraining.

Is crate training right for your dog?

Whether crating your pooch is a good idea depends on several factors:


Crate training is most suitable for puppies and younger dogs. Older dogs already housetrained and past the destructive chewing stage don’t require crating as much.


Anxious, excitable, and hyperactive dogs are poor candidates for lengthy crating. It’s also not ideal for dogs with separation anxiety or noise phobias triggered by confinement.


Dogs with mobility issues may struggle to stand up and turn around in a crate. Housetraining caveats apply to dogs with medical conditions causing frequent urination or bowel movements.

Daily schedule

Owners who work long hours and can’t provide adequate exercise and socialization for a frequently crated dog should reconsider this training method.

Housetraining status

Crating is most useful during initial housetraining of a new puppy or unhousetrained adult dog. Fully housetrained dogs can be left uncrated when alone.

Intended use

If you need a way to transport your dog or want to crate train for short durations only, crating could be suitable. But if you intend to crate for overly long periods daily, it likely isn’t ideal.

Breed size

Extra large and giant breeds don’t always do well confined in crates for long time periods. Make sure the crate allows them room to stand fully and turn around.


Properly sized crates for larger dogs are expensive. If cost is a concern, you may need to reconsider crate training.

Best practices for crate training

If you decide to crate train your dog, following these best practices will increase your chances of success:

Gradual introduction

Slowly accustom your dog to the crate to avoid fear and anxiety. Place treats inside, feed them in the open crate, and use a happy tone when they enter voluntarily. Never force them in.

Positive association

Make the crate comfortable with a soft bed and toys so your dog associates it with rest and security. Provide frozen chews or food puzzle toys for entertainment.

Proper sizing

Your dog should be able to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably in their crate. But it shouldn’t be so large they can eliminate at one end and retreat to the other.

Appropriate duration

Adhere to age-appropriate limits on crating times. Take puppies out every 2 hours and don’t crate for over 3-4 hours until 9-12 months old. Adult dogs require potty breaks at least every 8 hours.

Regular exercise

Make sure your crated dog receives adequate exercise before and after confinement periods. Bored, energetic dogs are more likely to become frustrated or anxious if over-crated.

Sufficient socialization

Balance crate time with plenty of play, training, handling, and bonding interactions to prevent isolation and improve behavior.

Proper management

Never use crates solely for punishment or banishment. And ensure your crate-trained dog is fully housetrained before being left uncrated in your home.

Alternatives to crate training

If you decide not to crate train, there are some alternative options:

Baby gates

Use baby gates to confine your dog to dog-proofed rooms or limit access to parts of your home during initial housetraining.


Attach a leash to your dog’s collar to keep them close and supervised when you can’t actively monitor them indoors.

Confinement to one room

Dog-proof a single room like the kitchen or laundry room to provide an enclosed space when you need to leave your dog briefly unsupervised.

Outdoor kennel run

Provide a securely fenced outdoor area for your dog to enjoy fresh air and exercise when you’re away from home.

Pet sitter

Hire a pet sitter, dog walker, or doggy daycare to supervise, exercise, and potty your dog in your absence to avoid the need for crating.


Use positive reinforcement-based training techniques to teach good manners and impulse control so your dog can eventually roam freely and safely at home alone.

Frequently asked questions

Is it OK to crate a dog while at work?

It’s generally fine to crate your dog while you’re at work as long as you adhere to proper time limits based on age. Adult dogs shouldn’t be crated for over 8-10 hours a day, and puppies require potty breaks every 2-3 hours. Make sure your dog gets enough exercise and socialization daily in addition to crate time.

Is it cruel to crate a dog at night?

No, it’s not cruel to crate your dog at night while you sleep if you ensure their crate is comfortable and they’re getting adequate daily exercise, socialization and potty breaks. Many dogs naturally seek out crates or enclosed spaces to sleep in at night.

Should I put a crate in my bedroom?

Yes, it’s often recommended to place your dog’s crate in your bedroom at night. This allows your puppy or dog to sleep near you for comfort and companionship. It also aids in quickly responding to whines or other cues that they need a late night potty break.

Can crating cause separation anxiety?

Incorrect use of crates could potentially contribute to separation anxiety in some dogs. But when used properly for reasonable durations and combined with daily exercise, training and social interaction, crating is unlikely to cause separation issues.

Is it better to crate train at night or daytime?

It’s best to crate train both at night and during designated daytime periods. Crating only at night won’t teach your dog to comfortably accept confinement during daytime when you’re away at work or running errands.


With proper implementation, crate training provides many benefits for dogs and owners. But excessive or inappropriate crating can lead to welfare and behavior issues. First consider your specific situation – including your dog’s age, temperament, and schedule. If crate training matches your needs and you’re committed to using crates humanely, it can be an invaluable tool. But if your lifestyle necessitates overly long stretches of confinement, alternatives like pet sitters or dog walkers might better meet your dog’s needs.

The most important thing is choosing a training approach that sets your particular pup up for success. While crate training isn’t right for every dog and owner, when used judiciously it can aid housetraining and prevent destructive behaviors. Just be sure to provide your crated canine with sufficient exercise, socialization, comfort, and potty breaks.