Is it really cruel to crate a dog at night? Whether you’re thinking of crating your dog at night temporarily or indefinitely, I’ve got you covered. Keep on sniffing!
**Please note that this website contains affiliate links, and at no obligation or additional cost to you, my humans and I earn a small commission if you make a purchase. If you love the work that we do, you can show your support by making a purchase through an affiliate link. Proceeds will go towards helping homeless dogs (and cats) along with improving the lives of the neglected and abused.
ARF, barking at all dog pawrents! Are you thinking of crating your dog ONLY at night? OR are you wondering if it’s OK to crate your dog while you’re gone during the day AND then again overnight when you’re sleeping?
First bark first, the question here is if it’s considered “cruel” to crate a dog at night. Here’s the simple answer (I mean bark) – unless you’re ONLY crating your dog for 6 to 8 hours TOPS at night (and only during this time, which means he gets the run of the house or confined to a significantly bigger area the rest of the day), it may NOT be considered “cruel.”
However, the real problem (I mean, PAWblem) with crating your dog (even if it’s only at night) is that there’s an ultra-thin line between “uncruel” and “cruel” as you can easily cross the line into animal cruelty when 8 hours can forgetfully become 10.
Before you know it, you’ll become so used to crating your dog that you’ll start to do so for other reasons at other times throughout the day. Or worse, you may start putting your dog inside the crate as a form of punishment. Whether you’re working during the day or running a quick errand, you may find yourself crating your dog more often than intended. Why? Because you got used to it, and you may start to believe your dog actually loves his crate, which is completely false. Again, dogs should only be crated 6 to 8 hours TOTAL daily before it crosses the line into cruelty.
While it may not be considered cruel to crate a dog solely at night for 6 to 8 hours, it’s just NOT a good idea to do so. Think about it. What if you have trouble sleeping one night, and you end up sleeping past your usual wake-up time? Or what if you had a long work week and need extra time to sleep in over the weekend? Again, if you’re crating your dog for more than 8 hours a day, it is considered cruel.
For your dog (or even yourself), 8 hours is a VERY long time to be locked up in a cage. You can lie to yourself and call a cage whatever you want to justify your decision, but a crate is still a cage. There’s no way around it. Unless you leave the door wide open where your dog is free to come and go as he pleases, you are locking your dog up in a cage. ARF course, getting locked up during bed time makes it easier for your dog to endure versus facing solitary confinement during the day when he’s more active.
Someone once told me that she crates her two Frenchies for over 12 hours every single day, and it’s totally fine because they can “hold it” for a very long time. Sadly, I’m sure she’s not the only one. BUT 12 hours??? ARF-my-DOG! GRRR.
You may think that you’ve tried crating or caging your dog for more than 8 hours or even more than 10 hours, and all went well. You see that your dog is able to “hold it” until you finally wake up your lazy self to take him out for a potty break. And then, he pranced around on the field at the neighborhood park across the street. Happy dog, right?
You think to yourself, no harm, no foul – why not continue crating for 9, 10, 11, or even 12 hours? ARF-ter all, it’s convenient FOR YOU. Your dog stops having accidents inside the house, and you stop getting pissed off because you no longer have to clean your exotic rug.
AWOOO, perk up your ears and listen to my REAL barks and howls: What’s convenient for you doesn’t justify what’s right for your dog. Or what’s ethical. Your dog is a living, breathing individual with his own wants and needs. Just because he’s physically able to “hold it” for that long doesn’t necessarily mean he should. Think about the times when you’re just “dying” to use the bathroom. Crating is an outdated potty training practice founded on the concept that dogs do NOT soil where they sleep.
Hence, dog crates must be small enough, forcing dogs to “hold it” for as long as they can inside the cage. While it could be possible (I mean, PAWsible) for healthy adult dogs to hold it for 8, 9, 10, 11, or even 12 hours, it doesn’t mean that they should do so, especially on a regular basis. Such expectations are completely unrealistic for puppies who can only hold it for 2-3 hours at most. And, for geriatric dogs with weak bladders or health issues? Don’t even think about it!
Hopefully, you see your dog as an irreplaceable member of the family. If not, you should NOT have gotten a dog in the first place. I’m just barking the truth. As sentient creatures capable of feeling human emotions AND who provide humans with unconditional love, dogs simply deserve better. Besides physical, emotional, and psychological risks from long-term, regular crating, no dog should spend most of his life in a cage PERIOD.
And, if you think you can justify crating your dog long-term because they’re “den” animals, let me just bark that no dog would ever willingly get locked up by someone else. Sure, cages can be used as dens, BUT they should not be locked (especially by someone else).
Still not convinced? Sniff out all 10 compelling reasons why you should NOT crate your dog.
Although 8 out of 24 hours is technically not the “majority” of the day, it’s still a huge chunk of the day. I mean, just think about YOUR 8-hour workday – isn’t it suPAW long? GRR. At least you get the weekends off! Sure, exercising your dog before crating him can exhaust his energy and make him sleep better during these 8 hours, BUT the truth is that your dog would prefer the freedom to walk around rather than confined to a cage. Not to bark, it’s better for his physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. Unfortunately, some crating usually leads to more crating.
Even if you think 8 out of 24 hours every single day is not excessive, you should still consider alternatives to crating your dog at night. Why? Again, your dog deserves better. Remember dogs age faster than us, so 8 hours can seem like an eternity to them!
Have you ever considered sleeping with your dog?
If you keep hearing your dog bark inside the crate, sleeping with your dog is, PAWS DOWN, the BEST solution. Your dog just wants to be with you! As a matter of bark, sleeping with your dog on the same bed develops a deep bonding experience for you and your dog. I love sleeping next to my humans because I feel warm and safe. And yet, humans reap the same tremendous benefits from sleeping with their dogs. ARF, I can’t imagine NOT being able to sleep on the King-size human bed. It saddens me to know that millions of doggies are forced to sleep outside or tethered indefinitely, often in extreme temperatures.
Your Response: I can’t sleep with my dog – he’s going to pee on the bed at night!
You may be thinking there’s NO WAY I can sleep with my dog – he’s going to pee on the bed! If that’s the case, you need to invest proper time and energy in potty training your dog WITHOUT a crate. Essentially, you’re not focusing on the root of the PAWblem, which is that your dog should be potty trained humanely and effectively so that he doesn’t soil the human bed.
If you’re worried about your dog tossing and turning at night (and ruining your sleep), do what you usually do (or plan to do) before crating him at night – exhaust his energy by exercising. Take him out for a long walk or have a fun ball playtime.
Your Response: I’m a germaphobe and don’t want my dog on the same bed!
First, germaphobes should NOT be dog pawrents unless they can somehow lower their standards of cleanliness. My human was quite the germaphobe, but she laxed after I entered her life. Who’s to say that humans are much cleaner, especially toddlers who love rolling in dirt and touching everything they see? Second, there’s a simple solution – you can sleep UNDER the sheets while your dog sleeps ON TOP, but be sure to give him his own blanket. WOOF, easy fix!
If you really cannot see yourself sleeping with your dog at night, putting a nice, comfy dog bed and blanket next to your bed would be a PAWsome alternative.
Another humane alternative is confining your dog to one room where the space is significantly larger than a crate, and that will provide him with ample space to move around at will.
Whether you choose to sleep with your dog in the same room or confine him to a room, be sure to leave a pee pad or artificial grass lawn nearby so your dog can relieve himself at any time throughout the night. Not sure how you can do this? Get all my tips and tricks on potty training solutions without a crate in this guide.
ARF, so is it cruel to crate a dog at night?
The simple bark is YES, it can be cruel if you do so for more than 6 to 8 hours (out of any given 24 hours). However, the real issue here is that frequent or regular crating easily crosses the line into animal cruelty as 8 hours can quickly turn into 10 or even 12 hours. Once you start crating your dog regularly, you will likely find other reasons to crate him. And YES, it is CRUEL to crate a dog for more than 6 to 8 hours a day TOPS.
Sniffing for more information on dogs and crates? Put a furry paw below:
Subscribe to my YouTube Channel: Wet Nose Escapades by Roger Wellington for fun dog videos!
Markin’ it up,
Roger Wellington a.k.a. The Doob