I need some advice. I have a 9 month old female puppy who I'm trying to housebreak.
I work Monday-Friday, leave at 6am and get home at 5pm.

I understand it's a long time for her to be alone.
I've been getting different information from friends on what do do with her during the day.

I bought the smallest wire crate available (comes with a divider). I also have a plastic corral that I zip tied to the ends to give her some room to move out of the cage (her bed is in there) and use puppy training pads when needed. I've had her for 2 weeks and the mess I come home to is getting bigger and bigger. She pees on the pads as well as the floor, plays/eats poop and just in the past couple of days is shredding the soiled pads.

My friends are telling me I'm giving her way too much room.
That I should put her in just her cage (make it a little smaller with the divider) and nothing else. No water or bed. They said I will no doubt come home to a big mess, but eventually she will get better with "holding" her pee/poop and not do it in the crate.

Sounds harsh to me, but nothing is working. Every day is a bigger mess. I'm more concerned that she doesn't seem to king sitting in pee, destroying a soiled pad or playing/eating poop.

  • 2
    Do you have any friends that could check on the dog, or any chance you can take days off from work? Imagine being in a small room with no water, no food, no toilet for 11 hours a day! That is not "harsh", that's actual cruelty!
    – Layna
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 6:50

2 Answers 2


Yes, it's far too long to leave a dog alone, you can't really expect any dog to sit and wait all day long for you to come home and still be perfectly behaved. The mess is due to anxiety - putting her into a small crate will do nothing at all to lessen that anxiety while you're away working.

You'll need to arrange for a dog walker/friend to come and interact/walk the dog every day when you're at work (yes, this can be an added expense, but it's something to factor into the cost of owning a dog).

You also need to question whether your lifestyle supports owning a dog.

The second option is a big question and is something that all of us dog owners have answered. By and large, we have adjusted our lifestyle to cater for having a dog as part of our family "packs". Most of the time, this is a happy and fulfilling lifestyle change that benefits both the dogs and the owners.

  • Further explain the adjustments you made or that need to be made. I don't know of anyone that has hired someone to come in and baby sit a puppy or altered a work schedule to accommodate (most employers won't do that.)
    – user8271
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 17:21

Puppies do not begin to develop bladder control until around 6 months old. It's not fully developed until around a year of age. What this means is that your puppy is not physically capable of holding it, no matter how small or large a space you keep her in. Will giving her less space help to her learn to hold it longer? Yes. Dogs naturally do not want to soil their dens, but there comes a point when it is physically impossible and she will relieve herself wherever she is.

Your puppy also sounds very bored. The shredding, playing in her own excrement, etc. are all signs of extreme boredom.

Most people who work 9-5ish have a dog walker or bring their dog to a daycare. Certainly if you're gone 12 hours a day, 5 days a week you should make arrangements for your pup to have access to some stimulation and the outdoors. Also, dogs needs access to food and water during the day. A 9 month old dog should still be eating 2-3 times per day (some adult dogs can do just one feeding, but puppies need more). If you're leaving at 6am and not getting back until 5-6pm, when is your dog eating and drinking? Forcing her into a smaller crate than is appropriate with no access to food, water, stimulation, or breaks to relieve herself is abuse. You don't seem like a person who wants to intentionally hurt their dog, more like someone who doesn't want their house covered in poop and shreds of puppy pads and isn't sure how to get that result.

Here are some action steps for you to take, which (if followed) will result in a positive change in your dogs behavior.

  1. Make sure the crate you have is appropriately sized, not just the smallest one available. Since you didn't mention breed, a good rule of thumb is that your dog should have room to stand up (with her head up, not bent over) without touching the top of the crate, comfortably turn around, and comfortably lay down.
  2. Ensure you have as consistent a schedule as possible. Try to feed and walk her around the same times every day (dinner doesn't need to always be 6:03 exactly, more like between 6 and 8).
  3. Give your pup plenty of exercise before you leave in the morning and after you come home at night. 30-60 minutes (varies by breed) at the park each morning will do amazing things for her temperament and behavior. You're not the only person who leaves early for work, there are loads of people with their dogs at my local park at 5am.
  4. Start some basic obedience training. Find an experienced trainer and enroll in a group class. Again, regular training will do wonders to alleviate some of the boredom and misbehavior.
  5. Get a dog walker (at least 2 walks/day) or find a dog daycare. No matter how much exercise you give her or training you do it's cruel to leave a dog alone for 12 hours every day with no access to stimulation or an area to relieve herself.
    - If you're going to use a dog walker, continue the crate training. Take away the pen, and instead make sure she has things to occupy herself with in the crate. You can feed her meals in a Kong. Get a few of them, whatever size is appropriate for your pup (they're dishwasher safe, so having a few means you don't have to be constantly washing them). Fill it with layers of kibble and other goodies (I use plain unsweetened greek yogurt, baby food, applesauce, fresh cooked fish, cheese, etc.) and then freeze it overnight. Give it to her in her crate as you walk out the door in the morning. It will keep her occupied for a while (my pup takes at least an hour to get through all the frozen food and she loves it), and will also begin developing a positive association with being alone. Make a second one for lunch and have the dog walker give it to her when they get in from walk #1. You'll need 2 walks per day, since you're gone for so long. Once your pup is a little older you could go down to 1 per day if you want.

Again, lots of exercise. Get a dog walker or enroll in a dog daycare. Best of luck.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.