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Thread: When to introduce free roam of house? If at all?

  1. #1
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    Default 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!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lady Hoop View Post
    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!

    Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. Nothing is going to be perfect. But leaving her in the kitchen sounds about as good as its gonna get. Sure she will be fine.

  3. #3
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    Personally I think you should leave her in her crate. I know she is not normally crated for that long during the day but she is used to being crated when nobody is home. I think we all hate leaving our dogs longer then they are used to but a crate is the safest place for her. I think leaving her in the kitchen if she is not normally let there could be weird for her also there is the cat issue and you just don't know what she could "get into".

    I crate my dogs separately when they are home alone and I always will no matter the age of the dogs. Fletcher is not used to being crated for longer than an 2 hours at a time but just last week I couldn't help it he was left like 5 hours!!! He was fine, I did leave a radio on for him tho
    Melissa
    "If you don't own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life."
    -Roger Caras

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    I think either way will be ok.

    Crate: your dog is used to it. It's a safe place and she can't get into trouble. Mostly what she does when you're not home is sleep, so why not in a crate, with a midday break, as you've described?

    Kitchen: I'm assuming the cats can always get out of the room--that they can go over the gate and get away from the dog. If so, this sounds like a good option too, it's what i did with Tess for years. Kept her out of lots of trouble. What might be a good compromise is to crate her half the day, and put her in the kitchen half the day. I do that with my Golden now (he's just over a year old). I usually give him something to chew on right before I leave. He polishes it off and goes to sleep.

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    If I am going out, I leave my two older boys in the kitchen, but I've yet to leave the puppy there. ( He's almost 5 months and really not ready to be out of his crate unless supervised) Windsor's crate is in the kitchen and usually when I come home I'll find both of them coming out of the crate to greet me, so I gues they crate themselves.

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    I'd leave her in the kitchen. Put her crate in there with the door off or propped open (remove her collar as well for safety) so she has a nice retreat. Give her meal split in two, half morning, half afternoon, in a Kong rather than a bowl of food (this will keep her busy and work her mind and her jaws). I am sure she will be fine with the cats (make sure they have easy access in and out and cannot be cornered).

    Start of rant :

    Personally I detest the (growing) inclination (especially prominent in the US I guess because because promoted by so many 'trainers' of a certain sad mindset) to put dogs in crates for hours during the day (I am not concerned with short breaks when popping out for a while, travel, or overnight sleeps or during housetraining when crating is suitable (eg all night when a dog sleeps the whole time) and a short-term training or safety tool). I am talking about it being a so-called helpful management tool for an active, social creature for hours at a time without a break (including half days ), up to a horrific full workday . We absolutely would find this cruel and unfair if we saw, say a fox in a zoo caged in a space this small for most or all day with at best, a short midday break then back into the cage. Dogs accept crates not because they are thrilled to be stuffed in a 'den' for hours and hours but because we train them to go there AND it has a safe feel of an enclosed space they might seek ***for short breaks***. Canids in the wild (eg the users of 'dens' would NEVER stay stuck inside a den for hours and hours at a time much less a full day. You can just as easily train a cat to stay in a cage that small all day too but most of us would find that highly questionable. Why then do we accept that sitting in a box for hours on end, especially for a young dog, is acceptable when we wouldn't for any number of less active and sociable animals? I'll tell you why: it is all part of a mindset that wants the instant gratification of having a dog but only if it can be managed at the inconvenient times when the owner is at work, by boxing it away so the furniture isn't damaged, so a baby-gate needn't be installed to mar someone's attractive kitchen entrance, or so that people don't have to pay to put the dog in daycare so that it actually gets to play and have stimulation to prevent the kind of bored destructive behaviour that causes too many to... er... crate their dog all day when they are not at home rather than take time to give a more suitable and stimulating, friendly environment.

    Do not get me wrong here -- I absolutely also believe, unlike many breeders or rescue people, that dogs can be very adequately accommodated in the homes of people who work all day (similarly when I ran cavalier rescue, I unlike many others, would home dogs to people in their own condos or apartments (not to renters...) and without gardens because some of the most neglected dogs I have ever seen are those whose owners shove them out in the garden all day. People without gardens WALK their dogs several times daily because they have to. A far better life for dogs than sitting in the garden with only occasional walks! (producing a poorly socialised, bored dog). I think crate-training is a must and extremely helpful over the life of a dog for many reasons.

    But having a dog means a major commitment -- of time, management and often for day-workers, money -- to give that creature a proper life, not one in which it might spend the majority or a significant portion (eg over say a couple of hours max) of its waking and sleeping hours in a crate. Yes, a dog may sleep much of the day but a dog also likes to get up, run around, stretch and move about, especially when young, and doing so in a closed box little larger than the dog all day long is to my mind and that of many decent trainers, **cruel**. Dr Ian Dunbar does not even recommend constant, enclosed crating for housetraining as can be seen in his free download book, After Your Get Your Puppy; he has a puppy pen set up (another option for you) with the crate inside).

    It isn't hard to create a stimulating, relaxing, safe stay-at-home environment for a dog --and many dogs are simply never safe 'free-roaming' -- not unless you are willing to have furniture chewed, and have hidden away safely all cords, baby-locked cupboards or removed all food items they might reach in them etc as many dogs learn to open cupboards, climb up on desks and tables etc. I only trust two of my four with full house access and they have never been chewers. I think the ideal situation is generally a kitchen or room, with or without a puppy pen, with an accident-safe floor just in case (even for housetrained dogs), a crate to retreat to, a stuffed kong (though not for multiple dogs who may start to guard/fight over them), water of course, and I leave the radio on. I always give a dog biscuit if I am leaving to go out which all four dogs know mean 'I am leaving for a while'. If I don't give the biscuit, they all start to bark!! I put a puppy pad down in the kitchen (baby-gated off for Lily and Tansy) because Tansy (ex puppy farm dog) will never be completely housetrained though she is 99.9999% reliable as long as I am there. You can even buy a little machine that serves up a new kong at different times during the day -- great for solo dogs.

    Many people who work full time might leave their dog in daycare daily, or just a day or two a week to add some extra stimulation and valuable socialising time for their dog (plus the dog comes home exhausted from all the stimulation!). Or people arrange for a dog walker to come in midday. But I loathe, detest, abhor the argument that a dog is 'happy' in a crate for many hours every day simply because we have trained these biddable, easily accepting companions to tolerate living conditions we wouldn't inflict on a zoo animal.

    I encourage people to consider whether they would stick a child in a bedroom all day simply for convenience -- and then find alternative, more humane ways of fitting a dog into one's working life than crating all day or for long stretches of the day.

    See Ian Dunbar, Dog Spelled Forward, Sophia Yin, and any of the training site links I have pinned in the training section for guidance on using crates (none of these trainers supports day-crating a dog to suit owners who work -- crates for all these are tools to be used minimally).

    If you download Ian Dunbar's book you can see his set-up.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby (foster) Mindy (foster)
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

  7. #7
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    Karlin while I understand your point of view on using a crate for hours at a time I still personally believe it is the safest place for my dogs when I'm not home. I do have a Xpen area set up for Fletcher with access to a doggie door however, I do not like my dogs outside when I'm not home. Fletcher is a digger my fence is on great shape but if given hours could he dig under it?? His Xpen area has no top, if he jumped on him small crate he "could" get over it (tho it has never happened) but what if he did? Would he eat something he shouldn't and hurt himself??? Honestly, I'm no worries about him chewing furniture or base boards for the destruction of the idem I'm concerned about his safety. I can replace a sofa not my dog. I agree with you that an owner who works outside the home and needs to leave their dog most of the day everyday can be a good owner AND should find another way to keep their dogs safe then all day crating. I personally would not be a dog owner if I needed to be away from my dog 8-10 hours a day, again my personal opinion. Then again I don't understand why people have children and leave them in daycare or with a sitter for 12 hours a day 5 days a week without fail either (and remember I used to run a child day care center). However, once in a while if it cannot be avoided I think it is fine to crate a dog for 3-4 hours at a time just make sure you have time later to make sure you dog gets some extra loving.

    I guess I'm hyper-sensitive to keeping my dog safe because when I was a child we had a dog who was left free-roaming in the house one day for whatever reason he was able to get to a bucket of candy kept on top of the fridge!!!!!!!! This was a small dog, how he did it we'll never know. But it almost killed him!!!! One would think something kept well out of reach would be safe.
    Melissa
    "If you don't own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life."
    -Roger Caras

  8. #8
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    We have an x pen with his crate attached to it. The only time the crate is closed is at night, or for very short trips an hour or two for shopping. If I'm gone longer then a couple hours he has his pen/crate combo. When I'm home he has full run of the main living area. I keep him out of the bedrooms because of the carpet. He will have water and a kong and some toys with him when he's left.
    I will include a picture, maybe this set up can help you.
    ~Shari mom to
    Henry, black and tan 12-07-11

  9. #9
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    Thank you for all of the great feedback! As I've said, besides having a dog as child, this is my first baby. So sometimes I need validation on my crazy thoughts and instincts.

    As far as having a dog and working outside of the home, the good news is, we both don't work outside of the home. My husband works from home and every now and then will be out of town. If he has to leave the house for work it is only for a few hours. Sometimes I feel as though he OVER stimulates her (he has endless amounts of energy and constantly has her prancing around in a tizzy) so I'm glad when she gets the break once in a while!

    I immediately thought of Doggie Daycare, but ran into a pickle with that too. She had a spay appointment last week, but my husband forgot to not feed her the morning of, so we had to reschedule for next month. So, if she had been spayed then, it maybe would have worked out okay for mild play at doggie daycare this week, but since she is not spayed and is 6 months she could very well be close to being in heat. I asked them how they would handle that and they said, quite bluntly, they wouldn't want to risk someone forgetting there was a male not fixed playing near her so they would pretty much isolate her to a certain degree. That is just as bad as me leaving her home all day alone. Doggie daycare will be my go-to if I am put in this situation again once she is spayed, so for this week I'm back to square one.

    I, too, feel as though the crate is cruel for animals to be left in for long hours. I know people who have extremely large dogs suitable for outside play very often that are kept in crates all day. I can't stand it and I feel for them!!! However, I do agree that for some folks, when a situation arises like mine, it may end up being the safest place for them. I worry that if she irritates one of the kitties (and all three of them know that we are not there to discipline) that I may come home to an injured puppy!!! However, I do feel better knowing that some of you think she would be fine left in the kitchen. The cats do not have to stay in her "area"...they can jump over if they want to. I plan on getting a more sturdy baby gate (the one I have is a cheaper kind) today and testing out that method tomorrow! I worry that the x-pen she could easily jump over or knock over somehow. She has recently become more brave. I may look into that as well once I see in person how tall it is.

    She is not very impressed with the kong toys. In fact, she ignores them and I've tried two different toys and treats. The only thing she likes consistently are red barn bully sticks...the straight and curly kind. Do you guys think it would be safe to leave her with one of those? I worry about leaving toys that may become unsafe for her when I put her in the kitchen.

    Ahhhhh....worry, worry, worry! I can't wait for the husband to come home so she's back to her normal routine

  10. #10
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    Personally I wouldn't leave her with anything edible like a nylabone or bully stick. I'd keep to a stuffed kong (not even peanut butter frozen with kibbles will tempt her?) or hard chewing toys and bones.
    ~Shari mom to
    Henry, black and tan 12-07-11

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