View Full Version : How to move BEYOND Crate Training (as dog grows up)

28th December 2010, 10:02 PM
A little discussed topic it seems to me, is how to move BEYOND the crate. For instance, my six month old Cavalier has been totally crate trained since we got him at 10 weeks old. However, if I leave him in a room in the apartment when I leave for a minute, he gets very upset, BUT if I put him in the crate, he's happy as a clam! In essence, he feels safe and secure in that crate. So, my question is how do I start moving him to being alone in the bedroom, for example?

Today, for the first time, I put the crate in the bedroom, left it open and let him be in the bedroom when I left for about five minutes. He cried but I didn't go to him until he stopped and I gave him treats as I left the room. In essence, the EXACT same principles that worked for crate training. Of course, there's the added risk of him chewing stuff, but I want him to feel happy and safe with the new freedom.

Advice? Sites with advice? Thanks!

Love my Cavaliers
28th December 2010, 10:33 PM
i know your goal is a confident and happy cavalier, but 6 months is still to young to trust these little guys. I left my 6 month old Madison and her much more mature (hah, hah!) older half sister Riley (13 months old) for 10 minutes and came back to find them merrily chewing on the baseboards in the living room. They were just having a grand old time and I learned a very expensive lesson. Six months old is still too young to leave a pup alone, even for 10 minutes. Don't worry though, he'll get there.

28th December 2010, 10:52 PM
If he is happy and comfy in his crate I really wouldn't worry. It will make your life so much easier down the road if you want to travel with him, at the vets, leave him somewhere etc. Otherwise I would keep doing what you are doing. I would recommend an incredible (I think) video if you are interested in using the crate for training other behaviours. It sounds like your pup has a lot of value for his crate so building value for coming out should be easy.


If I could recommend one training resource (other than for housetraining this would be it). I can see plenty of uses even if you have no desire to ever compete in anything with your dog - it's a really fun way of training.

28th December 2010, 11:32 PM
I think if he's happy in the crate, then leave him there. With Holly, once she was around 6 months old, she started sleeping in the big bed. This was really because we wanted her to, though. Holly never loved her crate, but it sounds like your puppy enjoys that environment.

I found Holly to be more comfortable with a sectioned off area of the house than behind a closed door. So, as her freedom increased, so did the area of sectioning. Now she has free roam of a large portion of the house when we're gone (or at least she did before recovering from surgery).

I found it to be a natural process, so if it seems like something you have to force I would let things be for now.

29th December 2010, 04:35 AM
I have adult dogs (7 years). They stay in their crates when we are not home. I know they are safe and they don't seem to mind it one bit. If your dog loves his crate, be thankful.

29th December 2010, 06:04 AM
Along the lines of what Jay said, it is important to know that your dog is really safe when you are not home. Before the accident, Holly had free roam of the house when we left. She did fine with that -- no separation issues, scratching at the door after we left, etc. BUT ... had she been confined that horrible day when she slipped out the door as we left, she would not have been in the driveway when I backed out the car. It's something that will make me feel guilty the rest of my life. Thank God Holly has recovered fully from the surgery, but had she not the guilt would be unimaginable.

During the phone call informing Holly's breeder of the accident, she gently reminded me that a crate (or some other form of reliable containment) is the best way to assure dogs are safe when we're not home. I'm not trying to lecture here, just speaking from a perspective I wouldn't wish on any dog owner. Had I been more careful, Holly would not have experienced the trauma and difficult recovery period. I agree that it's a gift that your puppy genuinely enjoys his crate and really wouldn't push the issue.

29th December 2010, 03:32 PM
We crated Chamberlain at night and during the day for small amounts of times the first month we got him, but he HATED it. He would scream and cry at the top of his lungs....we ignored it and it never got any better. So now he is gated in the kitchen and sleeps with us at night...I know I gave in!

31st December 2010, 02:37 PM
I think crates are a great management and sleeping and transport tool but do not like the idea of them being used longer than a couple of hours for a dog. I think a gated off safe room (like a kitchen) is a much nicer option. You can also put an xpen around a crate so they have both the crate and a play area for stretching legs etc. It isn;t a failure not to use a crate -- many people simply use them for transport. I trained mine as adults within a couple of days, to sleep at night in a couple of large crates simply for safety and because I am too light a sleeper and there are too many of them for me to get a decent night's sleep if they are in with me.

Ian Dunbar has some good info on using crates and setting up something better than a closed crate for when you leave dogs alone in After You Get Your Puppy, the free book download on his www.dogstardaily.com site. Also there are good guides/videos on crates at Dog Spelled backward.

31st December 2010, 02:50 PM
Mine are 19 months and still love their puppy pen - they sleep in at night in the sitting room - and there is a rush to get in first!! They have a treat for going in.

I have tried leaving them loose as they are trustworthy [at night!!] but they don't settle very well and cry and want to come through to us - so we are back to setting up the pen every night :rolleyes: but never mind, they are happy and it does make it so much easier when we go away...

We do occasionally leave them in it during the day - but not for very long - they are usually with us or someone is here with them.

Having had dogs go through surgery it is a huge advantage to have them crate trained as it makes the recovery so much less stressful.

I do love having them on the bed but like Karlin I'm a very light sleeper and they disturb me all night. Also having the facial nerve pain I am wary of them coming near my face - during the day they are very good and have learned not to touch that side, but obviously I am awake and always aware of what they are doing.

It means we avoid muddy covers, pawprints and dog hair in the bedroom too :lol: although it's amazing how much walks through on your slippers icon_nwunsure

31st December 2010, 05:43 PM
My dogs are seldom crated for more than a few hours during the day as between all our schedules, hubbie, kids and me, there is usually someone at home. I come home at lunch on the few times when they would be crated for extended periods. With four dogs, I couldn't have them sleep with me at night as they consider me their personal pillow. I would never get any sleep. I do not feel comfortable leaving them uncrated while alone as one of my dogs, Monty, has been known to find things to eat that are "not in his best interest". We try to "puppy-proof" our environment, but sometimes things slip through. My dogs run to their crates and get paid well for their enthusiasm. Their crates are large enough for them to stretch and move about and they have very comfortable padding. I would not crate them for 8 hours a day, everyday.

2nd January 2011, 10:38 PM
As Coco has been getting older (she is now 5 months old) I have been trying to accustom her very slowly to being free in a room. First of, I make sure it is all puppy proof with nothing dangerous for her to chew or swallow. Second, I only leave her for VERY short periods of time and build up on that time. Example, I started leaving her in the living room alone when I go outside to get the mail. Come back inside after without getting all excited over her, and she has always done well with that. I have now got her to the point where I can take a shower and leave her in my bedroom and nothing bad has happened so far. *crosses fingers* If I need to keep my eyes off her for more than 20 minutes, she goes in her pen or crate. I plan to try a 30 min leave when she hits 6 months old, and continue going from there.

Oh, and ALWAYS when I practice leaving her, I give her a "special" toy, one she rarely gets, so it helps her stay occupied...and dont forget to make sure bladder and bowels are empty before leaving ;)