Calling All Dog People

I apologize that I have not been doing a very good job keeping up with everyone else’s blog. I’ve been trying to take care of a lot of things around here, plus have some moments of fun and relaxation. Of course, I know you all struggle with the same dilemna. But here I go, I’m going to ask for your help.

I know a lot of you are dog owners and you are very creative, smart, caring dog owners. So I’m calling on your expertise.

My poor Java ends up locked up in her crate while I’m at work. That ends up being about 10 hours — 8 hours work and two hours driving time. I try to work at home when I can or work at home for a couple hours and then go to work, but my boss can only be so understanding about my pet and my unplanned predicament of suddenly being on my own.

Locking Java up in a 33″ x 20″ x 26″ crate all day was never part of the plan when I adopted her. It is basically inhumane and causing me endless amounts of guilt, so please don’t tell me how awful it is. I feel bad enough already. What I need is a solution.

I’ve tried leaving Java out loose in the house but she chewed up the back of a leather couch and a few rugs and who knows what she’ll start on next, so that hasn’t been a good option. She does manage to control her bladder all day but I don’t like that she has no choice in the crate and that she’s in such a cramped space that she can’t at least lay on her side and stretch her legs out.

I don’t have a good place to corral Java off and I don’t know if a gate would hold her anyway. So I’ve been looking at doggy play pens as an option. The large one in the style shown below is 46″ x 46″ x 28″ — not a great amount of space but much better than her current crate size. I also like that it is foldable so I could take it on the road with Java and me also.

But before I go ahead and order and waste perhaps more money on something that won’t work, I thought I’d ask the experts. What do you think? Do you know of a better option that is doable for a person who’s kind of in limbo as far as where she’ll be living eventually?

Thanks in advance for any advice or ideas you can give me. I’m hoping you’ll tell me the play pen will work okay because I sure haven’t found anything else and I want to resolve this as soon as possible.

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  1. With the playpen, since she has a tendency to chew, can she chew through that? It looks like it could be destroyed by dog teeth in minutes. There are bigger dog crates, similar to what she is in now, but made of all wire. I believe they come in very large sizes and they also fold down. The one I got Sadie is big, she would probably be a little uncomfortable in it now, but mine isn’t the biggest they come in. I like them because they are very open but a dog can’t escape and they fold down.
    Also there are kennels that are chain link, 7 ft x 12 ft x 6 ft high, do it yourself type from Foster and Smith for 329.99. You can get a sunblock top for an additional 79.99. If you had a cement area outside that you could put this kennel on top of, she couldn’t dig her way out.
    I know you probably don’t want to spend a lot of money, and I understand your feelings on keeping her locked up in a crate. It is so hard. When we aren’t home, our dogs stay in the garage. They can be in there for 10-12 hours, especially back when I had a job. But they didn’t destroy anything, Sadie sometimes had an accident, she was very hard to potty train!!! Do you have a garage she could stay in? I am just trying to think up as many options as I can for you!!
    If I think of anymore, I’ll comment again.
    Just in case you want to check out Foster and Smith, go to to check out their kennels.
    Good luck, and I hope I helped some!!

  2. It is tough trying to come up with a good portable solution. A larger crate isn’t a bad idea. Dog’s by nature like dens and small enclosed spaces and a lot of dogs do well in crates.

    The portable dog runs that are 6×6 aren’t too bad if you have a place to put them that she couldn’t dig under, although when my female dog was owned by a breeder and was in heat, she managed to break one of her canines off ripping the chain link open to get out and dig under a fence to get to the male dog. We have extra large crates for our labs and they used to do well in them when they slept in them in a large dog run that we had built before we got them because both of their previous owners said they would get out and run off. However we are such softies that they haven’t been in either in years and the lawn tools live in the dog run now.

    You might be able to find a used larger crate on Craigs list for pretty reasonable. Let us know what you come up with. I do agree that if the playpen is made of mesh Java might chew through it.

  3. I’m worried that a young dog like Java will chew or otherwise find her way out of a ‘soft’ crate like the one that you’re considering.

    One thought is an absolutely huge crate of the same type that you have Java in now. I found a humongous one at a local pet store. R, a full grown lab, covers only about a third of its floor when he lies down.

    I usually find that around 18-24 months old, I can gradually start giving my dogs some freedom. It’s a slow process. My R, who is now 22 months old, now gets the run of the bedroom when I’m gone for short periods (an hour) at sleepy times of the day or if I’m out doing yard work for slightly longer periods and can peek at him. But, I predict that it’ll be another year before he gets full freedom because he’s still such a puppy.

    The main thing is that you don’t want to let Java develop bad habits, like chewing things, in this impressionable stage of life. So, you take baby steps toward freedom where she’s successful at each new step. That does require figuring out ways to give her access to a small part of the house (using gates?) that are dog-proofed. Bathrooms and kitchens with dog beds in them can be good starters. I started with the bedroom because R is so relaxed there and seems to just fall asleep when alone.

    I freeze kongs with canned or homemade dogfood in them, and my dogs each get one whenever they’re alone. A large kong takes each dog more than an hour to extract all the frozen food. And, I’ve read about these timed kong dispensers so that you can prepare up to 4 that are released at equal intervals throughout the day. That might be a way to help Java through the day!

  4. Buddha is able to have free run of the house. But when I had my Alfie, less reliable, I bought a baby gate at Babies R Us and gated Alfie in the kitchen. It cost $50. They sell extensions for wider entryways. I know someone who has two entrances to her kitchen and so uses two of these baby gates. No screw installation needed–they have pressure-thingies on either side. The baby version was much sturdier than the similar ones made just for dogs that I saw at PetsMart.

    Also, sells many different varieties and heights of gates. I have had good luck ordering things through

    Also, you might try ex-pens. Ex-pens are made entirely of very sturdy metal. You hook the ends together with A-hooks to form a circle. They come in different heights. Two hooked together make a larger circle. They also cost about $50 each in my area. Fleet Farm is the cheapest source of them, if they are in your area.

    Could you use an old door or a piece of furniture to block off a room to see if she would stay there successfully? That wouldn’t cost you anything to test it out.

    I know people who make one of the smaller bedrooms in their house the dog’s room. Take the door off the hinges and use it on its side as a barricade.

    When I use crates, I use a wire crate. I think they have better air flow, and they fold up for storage and travel.

  5. i think paint girl nailed it with the type of pen… also do you have a space/porch outside where you can put it if you cant cordon off the garden.. then java’ll feel like she’s outside even if she’s in the pen.

    is there a “heaven forbid” place at work you can bring a pen … then you can bring her with and take her for walks?

    just brainstormin’ for ya sis:)


  6. does the dog get any exercise? does she get to run until she is exhausted? often the destruction is boredom, anxiety, and pent up energy unleashed. can you run her in the morning before you leave for work and try leaving her out? bc that crate is cruel. it is too small for 10 hours. and really truly but maybe you need to find a better home for her. mentally she is going to deteriorate. can you try to really exercise her to the point of tired before you leave her alone. gate her in the kitchen if you can with a bed and toys and a chew toy.

  7. Mary…The only time I have crated a dog is when it is a little puppy. Seeing that I am an advocate for animals, I personally would not leave my dog in a crate like that for 8 or 10 hours (not what you want to hear). At the very least, I would invest in a small outdoor kennel that I could run off a garage or the house so she could move around during the day. All of our dogs have always had the free run of the house. Do you have a garage? There’s always doggy day care, but that would cost you. How about gating off a mud room or a laundry room? Your crate does not offer much circulation…sorry…but Java really needs more (of course you know that, as you are asking for advice). Nothing is better than getting her to stop chewing so she can be free….Crating can cause anxiety, so they end up being naughty.

  8. Thanks for the advice peoples. From what everyone is saying, a canvas playpen does not sound like the answer.

    I can’t let Java loose in the garage or basement as there is bare insulation in the basement and too many things in both areas she could damage or hurt herself on. I have a laundry room and mud room but they are windowless and stuffy and seem crueler than the crate. I tried locking her in my bedroom but she destroyed a pillow. Concern about damage to woodwork and carpeting would be less if I wasn’t in the middle of having to sell the house.

    Up until May, I was able to run home at lunch time every day and let Java outside and did not have a problem with chewing then. It was when I had to start working an hour’s drive away from home and couldn’t run back and forth that the problem started.

    Java runs and swims in the morning. She plays frisbee, and takes a 3 mile walk/jog with me in the evening, then swims again after our walk. She also travels with me on all my errands if it’s not too hot out. She’s never chewed on anything in the car.

    I assure those who feel Java’s going to deteriorate or that she’s suffering that she’s a happy, healthy, very intelligent and alert dog. She’s definitely not anxious or suffering any mental issues. I think she’s actually pissed off by the change in her life, much as I am, and letting me know how she feels.

    I will resolve this problem very soon as my job will get more intense from mid-September to mid-October and I’ll have to work 10-12 hour days. In fact, at that point, I may have to splurge for doggy daycare because nothing is going to work very well for a dog left home alone for 14 hours. Too bad I don’t get paid overtime to help cover the extra cost…

    I hope to get a huge wire crate if possible. I’d like to get a kennel if I can afford one and move it and put it up myself and if it would be something I can move with me and use again.

  9. Mary….I hope you find that huge wire crate and can get the kennel. Sounds like the best you can do for her…at least you can take them with you when you move. Anyone who reads your blog regularly would know that Java is loved and gets a lot of attention when you are there. Do you have doggy daycare where you live? Or maybe near where you work? I know that it is very expensive. Maybe that can be part of your divorce settlement (ha ha).

  10. Anyone can see that you take great care of Java…and I think some of the comments here will help out. At the end of the day though, all Java wants …is you…nothing else matters.
    And yes, that canvas playpen, she’ll chew right throught that. Can you try putting her in a bathroom with all her toys?

  11. Hi Mary,
    I think folks who have not been faced with your dilemma probably have a hard time understanding why you have to crate Java. It’s tough to have a dog who is young and chewing and have to commute to a job that’s far away with no spouse to step in and help.

    And young dogs who chew certainly can get themselves into trouble! Bear Guppie ate a 3×3 foot square of canvas, while I was home no less, and had to have emergency surgery. Talk about feeling guilty! Your worries are well founded in terms of Java’s potential of hurting herself!

    At the same time, I fully understand your guilt over crating…it’s clear that’s not the solution you would choose but right now there are few options so you are doing what you need to in order to keep your girl safe.

    Because of your house being on the market I know that you can’t really put something permanent in place.

    I love Paint Girl’s suggestion of getting one of those metal dog run/kennels…I’ve seen some for under $200 that would give more ventilation and more room to move around-it sounds like it could be your ticket since you could use it when you move.

    There’s no question that Java has a wonderful life…you guys are both adjusting the best you can to a difficult situation. I’m so sorry that you don’t have someone who could watch her for you…if you lived nearby I’m certain the Guppies would love to romp with Miss Java while you were at work!

    Give yourself and that sweet girl a big hug from all of us!

    And, by the way…you are SUCH a great doggie mom to be looking for solutions to make her life the best it can be 🙂

    Sue bee doo and the gang

  12. Lori – A friend mentioned that there’s a doggie daycare nearby for $18 a day that I might use the week that I work the longest hours. I don’t want Java to freak out about being left alone so long.

    Lynn – My brother helped me corral Java in a hallway Thursday while we went out. I’m hoping I can get the gate set right like he did.

    Sue – I appreciate the words of understanding. I know you understand about trying to work out the best solution for your pet and that it can take a few tries before you find the right one.

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