Lyudmyla believes in a dog’s quality of life over owner convenience.
Raising Puppies Without a Crate
Raising a Puppy With or Without a Cate
First of all, let me clarify—I am not against crating and do not believe
crates are horrible. In fact, my Rottweiler was raised with a crate in the
house and still has one. Occasionally, she uses it to take a nap.
At the same time, I do believe that crate training is often used for the
convenience of humans, and not for the best interest of the dog, and one has
to be careful not to overuse this training tool.
Before you claim that wolves are den animals, and conclude that dogs should
enjoy crates simply because they are related to wolves, learn the facts.
“Dogs are like wolves, wolves live in dens, it’s their nature.”
Really? Wolves spend 16 hours a day in a den? Yes, it is like a den, but let’s
educate ourselves on whether or not wolves live in dens past a few weeks of
age in puppyhood. If your defense is “it’s like a den” for keeping a six-
month-old pup in a crate for 16 hours a day, then you need to realize that you
are basing your reasoning on a misconception. And if you are planning to keep
your pup crated at night for eight hours, and then add another 8 hours during
the day while you work (and let’s face it, small breaks are just that—
small breaks), then what kind of quality of life are you providing to your
“It’s for their own safety.”
This is not much better. If I take on responsibility for a dog, keeping them
crated “for their own safety” doesn’t seem to make sense. Staying caged might
keep them from chewing on electric cords, but should we be a tiny bit
concerned with their general happiness? Shouldn’t keeping them safe involve a
bit of work on our part, something that goes beyond closing the latch on the
“My dog loves her crate!”
Maybe your dog learned to love the treat they get in the crate when you leave
for work. They might have all the positive associations with it—and will even
take a rest there out of their own choice during the day. But do you think
they would benefit more from interaction with a human being or another dog
eight hours a day, instead of staring at four walls? Being social, pack
creatures (since we all love the “connection with nature” argument) dogs would
much prefer having a busy day doing things with others, and “will love their
den” only if they don’t know any better. What choice do they have?
Rottweiler puppy in a crate.
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When Is It Okay to Crate a Puppy?
- At nighttime, when the pup is very young. Young puppies are prone to get in trouble. It is our job during the day to teach them how to control their impulses and teach them what they can and cannot chew on. It is impossible to instill these lessons if the pup is always crated and we are always too busy to deal with a restless three-month-old pet. It is a full-time job. Nighttime is different, since both people and pets need their sleep, and we can’t supervise the occasional waking up of a young puppy.
- During naps. When your pup is ready for a nap, there is nothing wrong with that nap being arranged in a crate. It allows you to have an hour, and sometimes even two, to do what needs to be done around the house.
- When you take short outings (one to two hours). When the puppy is still young, I would try to avoid leaving him home alone in a crate, unless they had a very busy and exhausting morning, and you are certain that they will be sleeping for a while. If I had to leave, I would do my best to plan ahead, and tire them out beforehand.
- As a time-out. __ This last one fixed our pup’s fascination with the comforter and laundry. Each time we’d be making the bed or folding laundry, she would jump on the comforter, make a fuss over laundry pieces, chew and bite, and get overly excited about the whole ordeal. We’d always say “no biting”, redirect with a toy, and praise when she would grab onto her doggy toy. If this process had to be repeated three times in a row, we’d crate her until she quieted down (usually, no more than two to five minutes), and then let her out back into the bedroom. She caught on really quickly that biting our things meant isolation, and by the time she was four months old, you could go about your daily chores with a young Rottweiler pup chewing on her toys right by your side.
- To keep multiple dogs safe. If you have more than one dog, and if your dogs do not share treats and food well, it is wise to give them their own space away from each other while feeding or providing a special treat, like a stuffed KONG or a bully stick.
- During illness or rehabilitation. Self-explanatory. After surgeries, or past certain traumas a dog might be required to stay in a crate.
- During emergencies. Things happen. Not everyday things, but outstanding, out-of-the-ordinary things, and your pup might have to spend more time in a crate than usual for a day or two.
Raising a dog requires work on your part. It is your responsibility. Use a
crate as a tool, not a crutch.
How Does One Raise a Puppy Without Overusing a Crate?
What to do with a silly pup that won’t calm down?
- Take her outside.
- Throw a ball with her.
- Take her for a walk.
- Give her a chewy treat that will keep her busy.
- Spend time with her.
- Train! Short training sessions provide mental exercise for the dogs, and tire them out in a healthy, productive way.
This is the work they are talking about when they say “raising a dog takes a
lot of time and effort.”
What to do if you work full time?
- Separate a puppy-proof room (kitchen?) with baby gates, and leave safe toys and long-lasting treats for your pup to play with while you are gone.
- Arrange for doggy daycare.
- Find out if one of your relatives will look after your pup during the day.
- Hire a dog sitter. It’s a bill you must be willing to take on if you want to provide a good quality of life for your new pet.
How do you make sure they are safe and don’t destroy things? __
- You don’t let your pup out of your sight, until they know how to behave on their own. As simple as that.
Is It Easy to Raise a Puppy Without a Crate?
Are these things easy to do? No, they are not. It’s a job. It’s work. It’s an
effort. You will be tired, and your finances will be affected. In the end you
will be rewarded with a pet who didn’t just “love their crate”, but lived 8
hours of every day interacting with the outside world. This may sound harsh
and judgmental to some, but in humble opinion, this is what it takes to
provide a quality life to a new pet dog. This is what new dog owners should be
prepared to deal with. Crate is just a training tool, not a solution to every
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and
is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a
Amy Bord on June 28, 2020:
Thanks for the article. I have never understood the obsession with crates. Ive
raised 3 well-adjusted puppies without a crate!!!
Melissa on May 09, 2020:
I agree 100%. I have an 11 month old Lab/Rottweiler mix. He’s never been
crated and never chewed up anything he’s not supposed too. We provide him with
lots of puppy appropriate chew toys, playtime and walks. He’s an awesome dog!
Katharina on November 22, 2019:
Finally!! Thank you so much for your wonderful post! As we’re about to bring
our new puppy home next week, I was desperately looking for some humane advice
about how to make nights work without a crate. It just feels not right and
looks even more disturbing to me. Thank you for speaking up! Found some great
resonance within. Great article! Namaste
yolo on April 21, 2014:
i love this
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 11, 2012:
Most of our dogs were raised without crates but one of our last ones…a
rescued dog…did so much damage when we would be gone that we resorted to
buying a crate and only put her in it when we left the house, immediately
letting her out again when we would return. By choice, with the door open, she
would often take naps there. Also, when she had outgrown the chewing and we
removed the crate, everytime she thought that we were leaving the house…that
is the area in which she would go.
I found this hub informative. One can easily tell that you are an animal lover
just as we are. Thanks! Up and useful votes.
Lyudmyla Hoffman (author) from United States on July 09, 2011:
Joanne, I guess it depends on how many hours a day you work. Everyone is
certainly free to make a choice for themselves, but my hope with this article
is that people will at least begin to consider that it is not the best choice
for the dog, despite the fact that it might be extremely convenient for the
Joanne on July 09, 2011:
Before we could afford to buy a crate for our puppy. My husband built a crate,
with wood frame and wire. We only used it for our dog while we were at work.
Otherwise, we raise our dog without a crate. He did just fine.
Lyudmyla Hoffman (author) from United States on June 13, 2011:
Thanks Jenn for commenting. I have to admit, no matter where I bring it up, my
opinion seems very unpopular. At the same time, whenever I hear someone just
got their first pup and they say “but I feel bad leaving them in a crate,”
their conscience is allowed to “rest” by everyone around insisting how it is
necessary to lock the pups, and even adult dogs, in four walls for 8 hours a
day, and how the dogs looooove the crates, and how natural it is. Thanks for
making me feel like I’m not alone.
Jenn~n~Luke on June 13, 2011:
I agree one hundred percent. The crate has become a method of a person’s lack
of wanting to put in any effort with their pup. So often we see the same
thing…once the initial cuteness and newness of the new pup wears off, the
reality of the REAL work and effort required to raise a healthy, happy and
stable dog kicks in. Then the crate becomes what the tv became to a new
generation of parents. Something to stick them in or in front of, so we don’t
have to “deal with it right now”.
I have raised dogs since I was a young child. Since I can remember, my mother
brought home animals constantly, of every breed, species and sex immaginable.
It was always up to ME to do the work, to do the training. And guess what? Not
one of those dogs over the years had a crate. And not one, made mistakes in
the house after a certain age…not one destroyed everything in it’s path
while we were out. I have a breed that is often reccommended for crate
training because they are prone to being so destructive. Even as adults. A lot
of this has to do with the severe seperation anxiety they suffer. My boy was
totally potty trained at nine weeks (thanks to the breeder, I can’t take
credit for that lol) and although I had bought a crate, he has slept with me
and been literally attatched to my hip since that day over a year & a half
ago. I admit, I got lucky with Luke in MANY ways. He’s never been destructive,
and despite the incredibly intense bond we have together, he is fine being
left alone for a few hours when I need to leave…without a crate. People told
me it was impossible. I heard snide remarks about how I was letting him
dominate me by refusing to go in the crate after he reached six months
old…etc. I just knew my dog, and knew what was best for him…and once he
realized that he HATED the crate, because it was a physical barrier between
him and I…no amount of trickery, force or bribery was going to work. So,
crating is NOT the be all and end all of puppy raising. It can be a great
help, and yes, there are situations where it erally is needed. But with proper
supervision time, understanding how to raise a pup right…it can be done
successfully with no problems.