How to get my puppy more time out of the crate
I feel like I've been posting a lot of questions lately, and it's because I'm in over my head. We didn't do the proper amount of research before getting a GSD puppy and now she's 17 weeks old and we're paying for it, and so is she.
We're having multiple issues with her, but I know that the cause of a lot of them is probably the time she spends in her crate. We put her in when we leave for work at 7:30am, come home and let her out for an hour at noon, then back in until about 5:30pm. Then into a different crate (same size, just in our bedroom) from about 10pm until 5:30am and then we do it all again. That's about 16 and a half hours total in her crate, four days a week, which I know is way too much.
From two months old to three months, we had her crate (open) in an exercise pen so that she would have space to move around while we were gone. This worked great until she started throwing herself against it to try to knock it over. We worried that she'd hurt herself while we were gone, so we removed it and now she has just her crate. When we're home, she's out and we're interacting with her. We generally come home at 5:30, flirt her or play soccer, work on some mental training, feed her, do a little more mental training or calmer "indoor" games, then it's time to walk or, more often, go somewhere like a strip mall and meet as many people as possible. She requires constant activity when we're home, which is exhausting, but I'm sure it's a result of being cooped up all day. She was scheduled to start puppy classes today, but she's been sick since Wednesday, currently diagnosed as gastroenteritis so she may not be able to start until next month. Now that she's finished all of her shots, we can take her to bigger places like parks and fields, but not until she feels better. We also have the issue that she eats everything she sees, so we can't trust her which much true freedom yet.
Does anyone have any thoughts about ways to give her more room? I know that general advice is not to keep them outside, even in a kennel. We could build an indoor kennel kind of space, but I worry that she'll still throw herself against it. We could also give her a lot of space in the garage, but it's currently 102 degrees so we can't do that yet.
The other option is to give her more space at night, but I'm worried that since she eats everything, she'll get into something while we're sleeping. We would shut her in the room with us, of course, and get everything off of the floor, of course, but I still worry she could get into something (eating carpet, blankets, etc) bad for her.
I know the real answer is probably that we don't have the right lifestyle for a high drive dog like her, and we immensely regret not having done more research before getting her. But she's ours now, and we love her, so we're trying to do the best we can for her.