Is It Illegal To Crate A Dog? (Fully Explained)


is it illegal to crate a dog

If you’re thinking about crating your dog but you’ve heard people talk about how it’s not the right thing to do, or it’s inhumane, you might be wondering if it’s even legal to do so?. After all, you don’t want to break the law or do something that’s harmful to your pup. 

So, is it actually illegal to crate a dog?

It isn’t illegal to crate a dog in the U.S. Owners are allowed to crate train their dogs as a means to enforce proper behavior. However, different countries have different laws regarding whether or not you can crate a dog, such as Sweden and Finland.

When it comes to the legality of keeping your dog in a crate, there are different laws that govern it because of the different perspectives around the world regarding this topic. That said, it would be a good idea to explore whether or not it really is fully legal to crate a dog and the limitations surrounding crating a dog.

How long can you legally crate a dog?

When it comes to owning a dog, one of the things that many dog experts in North America will tell new dog owners is to crate train their dog. This involves keeping a dog in a crate during certain periods of the day while giving them toys and treats in their crate so that they will get used to life in a crate.

One of the reasons why dog owners in the US tend to take part in crate training is that it reduces anxiety whenever they’re away. It’s also beneficial whenever there are guests over who aren’t dog-lovers, are older, or haven’t had the chance to get familiar with your dog quite yet.

Still, despite the fact that crate training is generally accepted in America, there are still limits as to how long you can legally crate a dog.

In the U.S there are no set laws that you need to follow in relation to how long you can keep your dog in a crate. However, most experts will say that roughly 8 hours should be the maximum daily time a dog spends in their crate. This is usually done whenever you’re at work and no one else is in the house. Anything more than that is rather inhumane. 

It’s not good for a dog’s physical or mental state to be kept in a crate for more than 8 hours per day consistently.

Interestingly, in Australia, while also having no laws against crating a dog, it’s generally more accepted to only crate overnight and not during the day. That said, this is also usually somewhere between 8 to 10 hours.

In what parts of the world is it illegal to crate a dog?

So, while crate training is legal and generally accepted in many parts of the world, there are actually a couple places where it is illegal for you to keep your dog in a crate. Which means crate training is not merely frowned upon by some individuals, it’s actually breaking the law.

Some places in Europe as well as Australia generally don’t do crate training not because it’s illegal, but simply because it’s not a common practice as a dog owner. 

Places where they have made it outright illegal to crate a dog are Sweden and Finland. They view crating a dog as inhumane and unsanitary.

Finland has deemed it illegal to crate a dog but has allowed certain instances where you can keep a dog in a crate. These instances include temporary transportation or whenever the dog is ill. As long as you’re crating your dog temporarily and for reasons that are widely accepted, then you aren’t disobeying the law.

So while some people may frown upon crating a dog, it’s only against the law to do so in Sweden as well as Finland.

Why do some places make it illegal to crate a dog?

Now that you know that some countries have made it illegal to crate a dog, what are the reasons why they have passed such laws against crating your canine friend?

The reasons crating a dog are illegal in Sweden and Finland are very much in line with why people feel strongly against crating a dog anywhere in the world. The outlook among the Swedish and the Finnish is that it’s cruel and inhumane to crate a dog. 

Except temporarily and for acceptable reasons (your dog is ill). 

What can make crating cruel and inhumane is when dogs are deprived of social and physical stimulation for extended periods of time. Dogs are naturally social animals that want to frequently interact with other dogs as well as people.

If a dog is often left in their crate for most of the day this will dramatically affect their physical and mental wellbeing. This is why some places have made it illegal to crate a dog, so an owner can’t mistreat their dog in such a way.

Is crating a dog cruel?

All that said, you might be starting to wonder whether or not crating a dog is actually cruel.

The truth is, it depends on the person taking care of the dog. When used correctly, a dog crate is a valuable tool for both the owner as well as the dog. And when used incorrectly, a crate can be quite inhumane.

When a dog has been trained from an early age to use their crate as their home inside your home, it can become their safe haven. After all, before dogs were domesticated by humans, they lived in dark dens. This is why a crate can be extremely comforting for a dog, because it instinctively feels good to be in a den-like space.

Alternatively, if an owner hasn’t given their dog time to get used to being in a crate before leaving them inside for longer periods of time, or keeps them in a crate for 12+ hours everyday, this isn’t proper use of a crate.

So, crating a dog in and of itself isn’t cruel. 

BUT, if done by someone who uses a crate in an inhumane way, it can definitely be cruel to the dog.

American vs. European outlook on crating a dog… Which is right? 

At this point, you already understand that Americans see crating as a generally accepted practice while certain European countries see it as inhumane and cruel. So, given two different perspectives, which between them is the right one?

It completely comes down to the individual who is doing the crating. There is no definite answer as to whether or not dog crating is cruel and which between the different perspectives is the correct one. It all boils down to how a person does it.

Some dogs are better off being crated especially if the owner is periodically away from home. Crating is a good way of keeping the dog less anxious while their owner is away. 

Another thing to look at is the fact that crating can be rather abusive in the sense that some dog owners use a crate far too much and for the wrong reasons. With no laws governing crating in the US, some bad people may keep their dogs in a crate throughout their entire lives.

As such, it all boils down to how you do it. 

It’s true that crating is something that can be abused by some people. But that can be said about many things that people debate. For example, weapons can be used by heroic people to defend their loved ones, or, used by criminals to harm others.

It entirely depends on the person, and that’s why it’s so important to know how to properly use a crate so it becomes a place your dog loves, and not a prison.

Alternatives to crating a dog

If you really don’t want to crate your dog or if you are someone who lives in a place where creating is illegal, here are some alternatives that you can use:

  1. Exercise pen

Exercise pens offer a dog more room to move around while keeping them in a limited area. This means that your dog should be able to enjoy a little more space and ‘walking around room’ instead of being confined to a crate.

  1. Doggie daycare

If you need to stay out of the house for an extended period of time, you can put your dog in a doggie daycare to make sure that they’re taken care of and have friends to play with when you’re not around.

  1. Baby gates

Baby gates can work great especially if your goal is to keep them away from certain areas in your home. They also allow a dog to have plenty of room to move around and play with their favorite toys.

Final Thoughts

Whether or not you believe in crate training is something that’s personal to you. 

However, when it comes to the legality of crating a dog, it is completely legal everywhere in the world except for Sweden and Finland.

Other posts you might find interesting:

What’s the Purpose of Crate Training Your Dog? | Quick & Simply Put

How & When To Stop Crate Training A Dog | Simple Steps

27 Best Dog Crates For Small Dogs And Puppies

Alec Littlejohn

Founder and Reviewer at Pawscessories. He is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! He grew up in a family of vets and to this day he helps out around the family clinic and shares his learnings on Pawscessories. Learn more about Alec's story here

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