View Full Version : To crate or not to crate when you've left the house?

31st August 2006, 01:32 AM
Hi Guys!!

I have no idea which forum to post this in so General Discussion it shall be. I am just wondering what all of your opinions and experiences have been when crating or not crating after you've left your house.

As most of you know I am fairly new to this whole issue. I had never heard of crating before I came to Toronto. I have recently learned the benefits of it when you cannot supervise 100% and I thought I would give it a try. We've had tramendous success and I can say it has been a wonderful experience thus far.

I keep telling everybody that when Kos turns 1 his first birthday present is going to be free run of the house, but after tonight I am not so sure about that.

We left for about an hour this evening to run and pick up some oil for my OH's car and to get gas for tomorrow morning. Avi convinced me to let him section off the dining room and the kitchen (where Kos' crate is kept) and leave his crate open when we left. He's been bugging me for a while about this now so tonight I finally said sure, let's let him have 2 rooms. Let me first assure you that these rooms are both completely puppy proofed. I left and when we came home I told avi to be very careful that he did not hear us. I tiptoed up to the window and looked in the glass to see what he was doing and I then I seen him; He was sitting on the rug underneath the table (where he goes when he gets in trouble) and staring at the window with the biggest eyes I've ever seen. He was absolutely scared to death.. I mean, he looked like he'd just seen a vacuum cleaner turn on! ( :lol: ) I was excited to see him and even though he probably couldn't hear through the glass I said HI baby@! and waved at him and it took him a good 5 seconds of looking straight at me to figure out who I was and that he was happy to see me. He had that confused look in his eyes that said he didn't know whether to try to protect his house or not. He was scared to death!! :yikes :yikes :yikes When I came in he didn't settle down for a good 5 minutes he was so hyped up. He usually wags his tail for about 30 seconds and then goes for his ball.

So my question is, should I try to transition him into having the house while I am gone or should I keep him in his crate while I am gone forever? At least he knows he is safe. I had envisioned him maybe taking one of his balls and playing with it or chewing on something and running back and forth and playing. It really bothers me that he was so scared. I would never intentionally put him in a situation where he would be scared. I know a lot of you have gone through these experiences before so I am looking forward to hearing all of your words of wisdom. Thank you guys all in advance!

Cathy T
31st August 2006, 03:22 AM
Awwww ... poor little guy didn't know what to do with that freedom. When I was crating while I was gone I noticed my guys really relaxed when they were in their crates. They were completely off duty and very relaxed. I don't leave one uncrated if I have to take one somewhere. I'll put the remaining one in his/her crate only because I know they will be comfortable there. Once we got Shelby and she was reliably house-trained I stopped crating them during the day. I do close off a few rooms so they can't wander into other parts of the house.

I guess my suggestion would be to gradually give him a little more room gradually.

31st August 2006, 04:47 AM
We crate King kno 1 is home...I do it because I kno he is safe and secure also I kno he can't get into anything he shouldn't, but i don't lock the door cuz he would never try to open it and wonder.. but at nit when we sleep he's wit me, but the bedroom door is locked so he can't go exploring throught the nit house..but he's learned how to open my bedroom door even if it's closed cuz my door knob is broken so if he plays wit enough it opens :lol:

31st August 2006, 07:56 AM
Having only had Bailey a such a small amount of time I am amazed at what trouble he can get into in a room that I thought was puppy proof and because of this I will always crate when I have to leave him. If I have to be out more that 2hrs then I take him with me. If I can't take him with me I make sure someone will be around to watch him. I have not yet had the problem of none of these options being avaliable. I am not sure what I would do. However my vet is always happy to baby sit and so is my trainer!

31st August 2006, 11:03 AM
Sounds like two rooms is too much space. Jaspar can be confined quite happily when I go out to a single room but he gets very anxious if given the run of the house and runs up anbd down the stairs. Think of it this way -- would you feel more comfortable alone in a hotel room or sitting out in a football field? A smaller, confortable space is often what makes a dog happier. That said Leo would be fine at loose in the house. Puppies though get much more afraid of larges spaces than an adult dog familiar with those spaces would.

Excepting at night, I don't like crating a dog for anything longer than 2-3 hours and only if absolutely necessary.

You do need to train a dog to be left alone. He may have been just as anxious in a crate or in a single room if he hasn;t been gradually acclimated to being by himself.

Read these:


31st August 2006, 11:29 AM
Poor little boy - maybe he is just not used to it - have you tried letting him free in the two rooms when you are in the house (so he can't see you) and then try five minutes, ten minutes and so on so he gets used to it? Praising him each time you return.

31st August 2006, 11:57 AM
Thanks for everything guys.

I think the root of the problem is probably just the fact that the space was too big. The two rooms that I let him have were completely fine for him to be in and there is nothing he could find to get into.. nothing plugged in, nothing on the hutch, nothing on the counters, etc..

I have left him alone before in the house but it's never been for an hour. I've gone out to see a neighbor, take out the trash, etc.. and I usually find him back in his crate after I've gone. That being said though I think he is smart and knows when we are really gone and when we are just outside. When we leave he can hear avi's car (it's really loud) and also the alarm goes off so when we are just outside of the house none of that happens.

You do need to train a dog to be left alone. He may have been just as anxious in a crate or in a single room if he hasn;t been gradually acclimated to being by himself.

The weird thing about this is that he has started to like his crate!!! I thought I was doing him a favor by letting him have 2 rooms but apparently he's somewhat like Jaspar and maybe gets anxious. When I leave in the mornings as soon as I go to refill his water I say "kennel up!" and he runs there with this tail wagging. When I am home he goes there for a short nap, when he wants to get away from kids chasing him ( :lol: ), etc so I am confident that he has no anxiousness or problems when being left alone in the crate. That being said I did gradually lengthen the time he was left in his crate but I've never found any teeth marks on his crate or anything. When I leave in the morning he doesn't even bark at me anymore. When I lock the door I can see him start bedding and if I look in a few minutes later he's already passed out.


LOL King learned how to open the door? That's hillarious. Our bed is pretty high off the ground (well, a normal height I guess but maybe about my thigh) so Kos can't get off of it in the middle of the night.


Poor little boy - maybe he is just not used to it - have you tried letting him free in the two rooms when you are in the house (so he can't see you) and then try five minutes, ten minutes and so on so he gets used to it? Praising him each time you return.

You know what this is a really good point. I usually have my two eyes ON him or know where he is at ALL times because I don't want to be the unlucky recipient of an injured dog or a "present." I guess since the day we've gotten him I've been watching him 100% and except for 5 minutes here or 10 minutes there I've been with him ALL the time. Maybe it was just too much, too soon?

Maybe I will try this again in a few months and see how it goes but as for now I am going to continue crating. At least I know he likes it and he is safe. I was just thinking of him when I decided to leave him free to have 2 rooms but apparently he got anxious and nervous. I didn't intend to make him that way. I got him a bigger crate that he's never had a problem with so maybe he's just forever destined to be a crate dog? hehe ;) He knows that's his "house," so maybe it's good to keep it that way.

Bruce H
31st August 2006, 12:03 PM
When we leave the house, we crate our dogs. They are more than happy to go in their crate because when they do, they get a treat. We also feed them in their crate. So their crate has become a happy and secure place for them to be.

Besides, they can get into too much trouble if left alone in the house for very long. They're just like kids; there's a little voice in their furry little head that says "OK, mom and dad are gone, what can we do to entertain ourselves?". Dogs can come up with some very creative ways of entertaining themselves, believe me :lol:

31st August 2006, 04:30 PM
When we first got Duncan we crated him when we were gone. Gradually, we moved up to letting him have run of the kitchen with a baby gate at the entrance. At 16 months we have graduated to gating the downstairs, but we don't have a very large home. At night Duncan is under the covers being as long as he can against the side of my leg (Makes rolling over a challenge) :lol:

It is my understanding that using gates is the best for sectioning off rooms, etc because they like to still see out.

With Arthur's pending arrival we are already in discussions about how to best handle two of them. Our current plan is to crate Arthur for awhile and then move him up the kitchen leaving he and Dunc separated by a 2nd gate. Then within a year have them downstairs together.

It will be an interesting process.

31st August 2006, 06:21 PM
You need to do the same work whether for leaving a dog in a room alone, a house alone, or a crate alone -- which means starting with small periods and working up to longer periods during daytime in a crate. For example if he is never confined in daytime in a crate, you generally couldn't go off for a few hours and leave him alone in a crate -- you want to make sure he is Ok with such longer periods first. So if you are doing crate training to leave him for longer periods in the crate, it is basically the same approach for not leaving him in a crate. Two rooms is too much space though for a puppy -- most pups Kosmo's age would not really be reliable in terms of housebreaking to be left alone in two rooms. So if you want to leave him out of the crate, keep him in a single room like a kitchen.

1st September 2006, 09:54 PM
I am just amazed that all these Cavs actually like their crates, because from the beginning, our Charlie hated it. He would just cry & cry, and try to push the door down! It wouldn't work in the day w/ us being there, and definitely not at night to sleep- that was the worst.
So what we do when we are out, (esp. because he is so hyper and full of energy) is confine him to the hallway w/ a little baby gate. The hallway is very long as it leads from the kitchen to the bedrooms, there is no furniture in it, and it is hardwood floor. We close all the bedroom doors and only leave the bathroom door open, which has his wee-wee pads. He has his little nest bed, plenty of toys and water. This works great for him & us, (though he would much more prefer to have free reign to the whole house). It's just too bad we wasted $50 on a crate, but oh well.

2nd September 2006, 12:31 AM
I've always just sectioned off a room or two by using a gate. I don't like to keep dogs in a crate too long either, and actually I have never crated a puppy till I decided to try it one day, and I was so glad that I was home and hadn't left, because somehow Bentley had gotten his teeth and mouth thru the bars on the side of the crate and he was trapped like that with his mouth stuck wide open, and he yelped so loudly it scared the daylights out of me....I thought I was going to hurt him or break a tooth trying to free him, he was stuck so horribly bad. It was a freak accident, but needless to say I will never crate him again - it was just too terrifying. So, I just either let him have run of the house ( I used puppy training pads) or I section off the kitchen and kept him in there. I do know of a lot of people who have had great success with crating, I just didn't have much success. Also, I am single and gone at work 8 hours a day, much too long to leave any dog in a crate, so that is another reason why I prefer to leave them in one room, or let them have free run of the house.