Friday, June 14, 2013

Crate Expectations

So your puppy is doing great. Your pooch is crate trained and is not  having accidents in the house. Now the question is when is it okay to leave your puppy out of the crate when you leave the house or go to sleep? Whether it’s housebreaking, chewing or getting into things, you have to resolve the issue before your dog can roam around your house unsupervised. 

A good rule of thumb is for your pooch to go eight months incident free before letting your dog out of their crate unsupervised.  This means your dog should go an entire eight months without the specific issue. For a dog with housebreaking issues, this means eight months without having an accident in the house. For dogs with a chewing issue, your dog needs to go that period of time without attempting to chew on anything they shouldn’t while under your supervision. Same goes for getting into things; if this is the issue you have with your dog, they need to go that long without attempting to get into things while you are watching them.

The key to successfully having your dog crate-free in your house while you are away is making sure you start with small increments of time. This would entail leaving your dog home alone for no longer than an hour at first, and gradually building up to longer periods of time. Once they grow used to the hour alone, slowly extend the amount of time they are left out of the crate by themselves. At the beginning, your dog should still be confined, even though they are not being crated. This could mean letting them out of the crate, but leaving them in a gated space, such as the kitchen. It’s important to not let your dog have free roam of your entire house right away. Once your pooch has worked their way up to long periods of time in a confined area, you can then begin to give them free reign in other areas of the house. Again, with this transition, you want to start off with small periods of time and work your way back up to longer times. 

When it comes to letting your dog sleep out of the crate, the same eight months free of an accident rule still applies. Remember that you are sleeping, which would allow your dog plenty of time to explore unsupervised. 

While the biggest step in this process requires your dog to behave, you can also help by setting them up for success in their new, more spacious environment. Make sure there are not things around for your dog to easily access. If you had housebreaking issues, make sure your pet goes out before you leave or before you go to bed. If you have a dog that chews, make sure that you have Kongs and chew toys for them to keep their mouths occupied. Always pet-proof your house before you leave by putting away things that could cause problems for your pet, such as garbage and household chemicals. 

Leaving your dog alone is a process, and if your dog has an accident during this process, it’s best to go back to square one. This means if your dog has an accident, you need to return them to the crate the next time you leave, and again at night, until they go another eight months without an accident. Though this can be a long process, it will be worth it so you feel comfortable enough to leave your dog home alone and when you go to bed at night without worrying that they will have an accident. 

We know that life is busy and you may not have the time to go through this process. Morris K9 Campus offers customized puppy housebreaking and training to work around your schedule and help make this training process a little easier.

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