Crating isn't awful, we both work full time so both dogs are crated when we're gone. They're crated for a max of 8 hours with a 20 minute break in the middle, but they're giving lots of exercise, training, and play time. They're never crated more then they have to be and they're happy and healthy
I would rather crate and know they're safe then leave a puppy alone where they can chew and destroy and otherwise get into trouble. At 7 months your dog may be old enough to leave unattended but he may not be, Delgado is almost 2 now and still crated when we're not home as I know he will get into trouble if left more then 30 minutes, he gets bored and makes his own fun.
As long as the crate is large and comfy the dog should just sleep and doesn't care whether you're gone one hour or three hours. Personally I do my best never to leave them more then 4 hours but they've gone 6 before
Jasmine - Female Miniature Poodle - born Aug 15, 2010
Loker Delgado Von Stalworth - Male GSD - born Jan 26, 2012
Koda & Zazu - 5 year old male cats
Alex - Male Cocker Spaniel (rescue) - RIP Cuddlebug 2007-2010