When to introduce free roam of house? If at all?
I've finally ran into a pickle. Normally Lady's loving father is home with her all day (he works from home), but occasionally he is out of town for a couple of days. This upcoming week he will be gone ALL week. UGH! When we first got her (at almost 4 months) she was in the crate a lot. She was fine with it and still is, maybe even better about it, but I still don't prefer it. If we're not home she stays in the crate.
She has been maturing slowing but surely. Her behavior is less wild and puppy-like. She can be trusted by herself (in another room) for a little bit longer more and more (usually minutes, but hey, better than seconds!) as long as there are no shoes around. She sleeps a lot more during the day and seems to thoroughly enjoy her downtime. We are usually pretty active with her on the weekends, but my husband has already left so I've been on the couch all day and Lady hasn't budged except to go outside once or twice for a few minutes (my husband swears this is all she does during the week anyway, and now I believe him!). She has slept all day! But I still hate that I'm going to be at work all week while she's a crate this week.
I will be coming home to let her out midday, leaving her in the crate for about 3-4 hours in morning then again in the afternoon. I hate the thought of this, but am trying to cope with it knowing it's not the norm for her. I have thought of an alternative solution and want to know if it's a BAD idea...or if I'm being ridiculous altogether:
I have a tiled kitchen that has nothing on the floor she could mess with. I was thinking of putting up the baby gate and leaving her in the kitchen vs. the crate while I'm at work. The only downside to this is that I have two cats. The three of them get along really well...sleep near each other, next to each other sometimes, and lick each other quite often. They are not enemies. The only thing that worries me is when they are all rowdy and riled up they will chase each other and Lady will bark and nip and the cats will do "fake-swats" at her rear end or in the air. They are definitely playing. I have yet to see a 'hateful' exchange. They do not try to make contact near her face that I've ever noticed...they're older cats who had have a lot of exposure to animals, so I chalk it up to them knowing better than to do that. They are NOT declawed (totally against de-clawing, personal hang-up of mine) and that's what worries me.
Is it too risky to give her a little more space and open up the possibility of an accident happening when I'm not home? Or am I overreacting and the chances are she'll just sleep all afternoon anyway? Or...just put her in the crate?
Any stories of how you have handled a similar problem or when you started introducing the house + other animals together, alone, would be great!