How Long Is too Long to Keep a Dog in a Kennel? (Explained!)

On average, anything longer than eight hours is too long to keep a dog in a kennel. After this time, not only will it become incredibly uncomfortable for the dog, but it can also contribute to developing mental illnesses. One such illness is Kennel Crazy.

There are a host of other behavioral problems as well. But, it’s important to understand that the crate is an aid. It’s neither a substitute for training and playtime nor is it a means for punishment. So, owners must be judicious in their use of a kennel (aka a crate).

How Long Is too Long to Keep a Puppy in a Kennel?

Puppies cannot hold it when they have to go to the bathroom, so their time in a crate should be short. According to the Humane Society, you shouldn’t leave a puppy younger than six months in a crate for longer than four hours. Even four hours is stretching it a bit.

There are other veterinarians who suggest a formula where you add the number one to their age in months. For instance, two months old shouldn’t be in their crate for more than three hours and six months not more than seven hours.

All in all, however, it will depend on your pup. While you may want to use the above techniques to start crate training your puppy, you will have to adjust it to the behavior, personality and tolerance limit of the dog. This means studying when the dog has to go to the bathroom after eating and drinking.

How Long Is too Long to Keep an Adult in a Kennel?

Most average adult dogs can stay in a crate for up to eight hours. As long as you know the dog receives enough exercise, affection, playtime and other household interaction, a ½ day will be fine. But, you should train the dog to be in there for that amount of time. Don’t just toss the dog in and think all will be well.

Also, if you have to leave your dog alone for more than eight hours a day, you should to hire a dog walker, enlist the help of a friend/family member or put the dog into doggie daycare.

How Long Is too Long to Keep a Mature Dog in a Kennel?

Older and mature dogs shouldn’t be alone in a kennel for more than six hours a day. This will be especially true if they have diseases and other health conditions related to being an elderly pooch. This will include things like dementia, loss of bladder control, poor digestion, hip problems and etc.

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But, like puppies, it’s important to observe and monitor the dog. Test how its tolerance is for the crate and adjust the schedule accordingly.

What Will Happen if You Overuse the Kennel?

If you overuse the kennel and keep your dog in there for too long, it will ultimately render it ineffective as a tool for training. This will often accompany mental health and behavioral issues that you didn’t intend for the dog to develop. Such things are the fault of the owner and not the dog.

These issues can include things like soiling in its crate that leads to the dog having an accident in other parts of the house. When this happens, the crate is not doing what you intended and is therefore defunct by default.

Kennel Crazy

Another risk of overusing the crate is the dog developing a mental health condition called Kennel Crazy. This is a psychological state where the dog will pace, chew, jump, bark and a host of other undesirable behaviors when locked up in the crate.

This is often a condition of dogs that come from rescue centers and animal shelters. Here, they spend far too much time inside their kennels with little to no interaction with other people. If you have a dog from one of these places, you may want to avoid using a crate until the dog develops a solid and healthy trust of you.

Other Problems

Regardless, the average, normal dog can develop a severe distrust of you and the crate if you leave it in there too long. This will make it more difficult for them to get inside of it in the future. Plus, they could develop aggressive behaviors or health conditions as a result of their aversion to it.

Are There Any Benefits to Using a Kennel for Any Length of Time?

Kennels have a host of good benefits which owners should consider. First and foremost, a crate (or kennel) allows a dog to feel safe and create a space that’s a den all their own. This means the dog will stay calm and comfortable.

Plus, it’s an excellent housebreaking aid. Typically, dogs won’t soil their own resting spot. So, it’s good to monitor the dog and evaluate its actions and behaviors when their need to use the bathroom arises. This makes it also beneficial when you have a dog that’s difficult to potty train.

Then there’s the matter of hyperactive and overzealous dogs. They just get so excited they can’t control themselves. Therefore, a kennel is the most ideal place to provide a timeout. But, regardless of your purpose for having one, you don’t want the dog to develop negative associations with being in the crate.

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How Can You Maximize a Kennel’s Effectiveness for a Dog?

First, it’s important that you NEVER use a kennel as a punishment for your dog. Use it as a timeout but not for discipline. No matter what, you want to avoid the dog developing a negative feeling toward you and the kennel when it comes time for the dog to go inside.

Then, ensure the kennel sits in a spot that’s warm, comfortable and free of outside distractions. So, ensure there are no drafts, severe temperature changes and noises. Also, it should be in an area not frequented by foot traffic, children and etc.