This is the first time I've posted anything other than a question. My baby boy is 18 weeks old now, but we brought him home at 7 weeks. I do use a crate for sleeping at night and for short times during the day, It's great when I need him safely out of the way. I have to say my crating experience has been much smoother than many I've read. The first few nights home I actually had the crate on my bed so he could be as close to me as possible but still crated -- maybe that helped?
Anyway, I didn't want to leave him in the crate all day while I was at work. I've read that you can't expect a puppy to hold it more than an hour for each month of age. And although I've modified my hours some, there are still days when I am gone all day. If they have no choice but to soil the crate, they will, and I've read that messes up potty training. So, I gated off my kitchen, but still felt there were too many dangers for a young puppy, not to mention my molding and cabinets.
My solution is a happy medium in the way of an excersize pen. I bought one of the 8-panel , 4ft tall pens from drs foster and smith, and set it up in the kitchen on top of a plastic tarp to protect the tiles on the floor. From day 1 Jack's food and water has been inside the pen, as well as his puppy pads (he came paper trained
) . There is 16sqft of space when it is closed, so there is also room for a nice mat. When i'm home, I just open it up so it's in a big U-shape, but leave his water and papers in there. I wouldn't suggest keeping in closed and using the door ... jack scratched himself on the door when he was very little. Anyway -- if you have the room -- this is a great solution. It gives a puppy plenty of room, they can see everything, and keeps them safe!
I don't know how long it will work, when he gets much bigger he might be able to topple it over, but by then he should be ok to be in a large crate all day