- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


Should I keep crating him or try leaving him out?

January 13th, 2009, 03:27 PM
Sorry in advance for this long post...

Ozzy is a 7-mo-old lab/cocker spaniel cross puppy. He is such a well-behaved boy, never getting into anything he shouldn't, only chewing his toys, very good obedience, etc. He does have separation anxiety though. When we put him in his crate and leave him alone, he barks, howls, whines, and cries the entire time we're gone. We put him on medication for a month and it helped a bit, but then we took him off because he currently isn't being left alone much.

Even though we always crate him when we leave him alone, I've only worked on separation anxiety treatments (leaving for short intervals) with him when he's been out of the crate. I figured us leaving and him being crated were 2 separate issues, and wanted to work on him being okay left alone before I progressed to him being left alone in a crate. To be honest, he was only mildly curious when I left the house and when I came back he was always happily laying in his bed, not concerned about my absence or overly excited at my arrival. Do the same exercise with him in his crate, and he's crying, etc. within seconds.

I've always wondered if his anxiety had more to do with being crated than being left alone, but haven't been able to test that theory out yet.

Well we are about to move into a new home and I'd like to try leaving him home alone out of his crate. Two reasons, 1 because he seems to really hate being crated when he's alone and 2 because he'll be alone for about 9 hours a day and I think that is too long for him to be in his crate. Part of me believes that if he was not crated, he wouldn't care so much about being left alone.

I don't crate him now when I'm in the shower, the other room or short trips to take out the garbage and he NEVER gets into any trouble. I'm very lucky, I know.

Some considerations:
I'd use baby gates or something to keep him in the kitchen, so he doesn't have total free rein in the house.
I'd start with short absences to see how he reacts, and then work up to full-day absences if all goes well.
I will walk him for at least 30 min in the morning before leaving him, and then another 45 min or so when I get home. I will walk him with a backpack to drain more of his energy too.

My questions are these...
Do you think he should be in a crate while we're gone all day? Do you think it's a good idea to TRY leaving him out?

I'm wondering about an x-pen but not sure if he could knock it over if he wanted. The lab in him is quite persistent, if he really wanted to get out he could. That said, he could easily clear any baby gate if he wanted but he seems to be very good about boundaries.

January 13th, 2009, 11:51 PM
We've always used the rule of thumb that the dog doesn't get the run of the house until at least two years of age. A little maturity goes a long way when a dog is being left alone for a while. Boredom usually gets the better of pups, and then you suddenly have a demolition problem on your hands. :D

If you can find a way to contain him in a smaller, 'safe' area, you can give it a try--just be aware that you'll have to puppy-proof the rest of the house, too, in case he pulls off the great escape. :o

Is there someone who can come by and let him out to blow off some steam halfway through the day? That might be a great help whether you crate him or just block him off in a particular part of the house. :thumbs up

January 14th, 2009, 10:09 AM
I figured us leaving and him being crated were 2 separate issues, and wanted to work on him being okay left alone before I progressed to him being left alone in a crate.

Hi, when we adopted our lab X Colby, we tried to crate as we had our other girl Maya. We discovered he is part kangaroo.:laughing: He cracked his head open bouncing inside the (correct sized) crate:sad:. I thought he would destroy the house with that much energy, but it was only the crate that was the problem. I am chaulking it up to the 6 months he was at the Humane Society. Unfortunately the second branch of the society was closed due to issues with the building, and they had to combine the shelters into one. There were animals in crates everywhere, and I think this may be his reason for not behaving in the crate. He relates it to a place that was loud, excitable etc. I let him out and he is just fine. Limit your space for him, and proof your house. I put a radio on in the kitchen when I am home, so I can leave it on when I exit, and the dogs just think I am still in the kitchen. You just can't make a fuss when you leave, they will know somethings up. Good luck :fingerscr:fingerscr

January 14th, 2009, 12:30 PM
I totally understand what you're saying. I have 2 pups that are 5 months old, and I know that eventually I'd like to let them have free reign of the house, but I'm a little nervous to make the switch.
Right now, their crates are side by side in a spare bedroom. My thought was, once I'm ready, I'll start leaving them out of the crate but still confined to the bedroom. That way, the amount of trouble they can get into is still somewhat limited. ;)
Gradually, they'll earn more freedom.

However while they're still in the crates during the day, I have found a new saviour - the kong!
They used to cry a lot when we left too, but I stuff a little all natural peanut butter in the kong, give them each one, and it keeps them entertained for a good hour or so until they fall asleep :sleepy:

January 14th, 2009, 01:14 PM
Our lab Solo was nine months when I decided to grant him space in the living room dining room for the first time. He was fine in his crate, but I thought he may appreciate some extra room. Plus he had never given us any reason to doubt him. He is very well behaved usually.

On the first occasion I did my best to puppy proof the room by removing accessories & temptations, and to my pleasant surprise he didn't destroy anything! In fact, when I spied on him through one of our windows from outside, he was laying peacefully on the sofa with our cat Nic.

Of course he hasn't been perfect! We've lost 3 throw cushions since he's been un-crated, but fortunately for Solo and us, his cravings haven't consisted of anything more expensive! Our 3 year old cat nic has done more damage than our 2 year old lab!

If you feel Ozzy is developing anxiety over the crate, then I would recommend you try giving him extra space in small doses and see how he handles it.

Good luck!

January 14th, 2009, 02:53 PM
Thanks for the advice. I've been reading up a lot on x-pens and I think that might be a good "starter" solution. It will contain him in a smaller space but give him more room, and hopefully less anxiety. If all goes well, we may grant him more space. I'll be sure to puppy-proof the rest of the house just in case, but I think Ozzy will do okay.

We have to leave him alone about 3 days a work-week, Mondays my fiance is always home and another day in the week Ozzy goes to doggie daycare. We always make sure to exercise Ozzy well both before & after long absences. Unfortunately we don't have anyone that can come in during the day at this point...

Because he has such anxiety in his crate, Kongs and toys don't work on him. He barks & cries non-stop until we get home. This is a lab, a VERY food-motivated dog who will leave treats untouched or unfinished all day. Extremely unheard of for him, which tells me high stress.

I think it's just getting over the decision that the crate may not be the best approach for Ozzy, even though that is what we always wanted to use. I'll have to convince my fiance - he is against this whole idea because he thinks Ozzy will have accidents all over and destroy the place. :shrug:

January 14th, 2009, 06:54 PM
I have never crated..So with my dogs,past and present I had the kitchen blocked off..I worked with them with the coming and going when I left the house..Started with 10 mins, then 25 mins and so on..They had free run of the house at 5 1/2 months..I left them some toys and the radio on...They never got into anything.

My niece has 2 pups that are a little over 4 months..She has them blocked off by the kitchen..They are both great in the house..So she will be trying the methods I did with mine.

I see no problem in trying him with it.But go slow..Try the 10 mins..Walk outside and wait..Come in and ignore him till you get your coat off..Then praise him...Keep doing the 10 mins then work it up a bit longer...It will take some time.

If you don't want him crated, then try blocking off the kitchen or the xpen..If you don't have a dog that destroys, then I see no reason to crate..But that's just me...;)

On a serious note....For those who do crate, PLEASE have a sign on your door stating you have dogs crated and where..You should already have a sign stating that you have animals in the house..This is in case of a fire....I had a call to a house fire...There was a dog that was crated..I don't want to get into details of the outcome....:cry::cry::cry:

January 14th, 2009, 07:58 PM
I think I'll do exactly as advised here - try leaving him in the kitchen or xpen for 10 min at first, and progressively longer.

Since this will take some time (obviously), I'll have to practice it on evenings & weekends. So do you think I should continue to crate him during the day until he adjusts to being left out?

January 14th, 2009, 09:11 PM
My 4 year old Springer Spaniel still suffers from separation anxiety as well.

Fortunately he is less destructive now then 3 years ago. He was crated in our kitchen hallway for about 2 years and hated it. We tried to give him free reign in the kitchen (putting up baby gates). It only took one destructive day and he was back in the crate—check out the picture I attached! 46867 (I hope I attached it correctly).

Anyway, we decided to shuffled things around in our living room and moved the crate from the kitchen into the living room—a central place where we all gathered. He spent the better part of a year in his crate in the living room while we too were out for 8-9 hours a day. When we pull up to our house, we never heard any barking and fortunately the neighbors never complained either!

The funny thing was—was at night when we were in the living room watching t.v., he would go back into his crate, on his own and fall sleep with the crate door open! Christmas 2007 we had to disassemble the crate to make room for the Christmas tree and when the tree came down—the crate stayed down and has never returned.

You should be extremely careful giving Ozzy free reign in your kitchen or a segregated area. I agree with all other in making sure that you totally puppy proof whatever room you are choosing to give him this freedom. Good luck Mgue and Ozzy!

January 15th, 2009, 03:03 PM
klmccallum - do I understand correctly that when you moved the location of his crate to a more central area, his separation anxiety stopped? If so, this is amazing and definitely worth a try too.

January 15th, 2009, 05:37 PM
You are 100% correct! Not only did it help his anxiety, he enjoyed going into the crate even when we were home--with the crate door open. Couldn't believe it myself that something so simple as moving the crate aided in his behaviour--defininately worth a shot! Best of luck to you.

I need to correct myself--His anxiety did not stop completely--crating him in a common area did aid his behaviour. He was crated for almost 3 years when we finally took down the crate (Christmas 2007) and haven't seen it since. I suspect that he will always suffer from some form of anxiety but his destructiveness has completely dissappeared. I apologize if I caused a confusion. Best of luck to you and the little guy...:thumbs up

January 15th, 2009, 05:41 PM
So when you don't have him in the crate and leave he's ok and doesn't get into anything?..If so,then I don't see why you have to crate him.Especially if he has to much anxiety while in it. Some dogs just won't accept a crate..Some just don't like being closed in, and if forced, then problems arise.

So do you think I should continue to crate him during the day until he adjusts to being left out?

Well if you are going to block off the kitchen or get an xpen then I would say no, but again,that's just me...:)

What you can do is if either blocking the kitchen or getting the xpen, do it when your home to see how he rects to it..Put his kong and a couple of toys..Even a raw beef bone...Continue doing things around the house. This way here he gets acustomed to it. Hope that made sense.

Here is a pic on how my neice found her pups in the morn...LOL

My neice is in a townhouse, so she has the kitchen area blocked.

January 16th, 2009, 08:41 AM
He's only fine in his crate when it's bed time. Any other time we put him in it, he's super anxious & unhappy. Like when we leave but also when we put him in there during the day while cleaning or while trying to get him used to being in there more.

I'm really looking forward to getting in our new house and keeping him in the kitchen. I'm really optimistic that it will help him.

I will definitely try keeping him in the kitchen while we are home as well as for short absences to see how he takes to it. I'd like to avoid crating him while we're gone again.

January 16th, 2009, 09:00 AM

Your dog is bigger than mine but for this one we took the chance not crating her at all. I have had bigger dogs and we did create them because they will eat your couch. My puppy has only really done one thing not so good and that was chew the cord from my daughters Wii and broke it, the first and only time she has ever chewed anything that was not hers. I know I just got lucky. We tried the crate but it sounded like someone was killing her..we tried putting gates up and leaving her in the kitchen some how that tiny little dog kept getting out, we were scared she would really hurt herself. We know just leave her, we shut all the doors, pick up all the stuff she can get too or dont want her to have. She likes to chew the pee pad I think that was her way of saying I am mad at you, now she leaves the pad and yesterday actually pooped on it (she has been pooping elsewhere). I like to change her toys every now and then, they can get bored quickly so if you change them up every couple days, I do it when I see her playing with one a lot this way I take it when she is still having fun with it and not bored of it so when she gets it again she plays with it. I also hide treats every couple days like a scavanger hunt for you know they are checking every inch of that house out. I also do the stuffing of the kong or other treat toys that really keep them busy. These are just ideas so they dont chew anything else or get into trouble again your is bigger...sometimes I do nothing or she will expect the same thing all the time then if you forget I am sure they will let you know by chewing the arm of the Good luck I would try leaving your pet out just gate them off I am sure they would appreciate it. Have fun:evil:

January 16th, 2009, 09:47 AM
Lots of good tips. Crates are wonderful for most it seems but some of us have the exception that proves the rule. We used a crate for our pups only for about the first one or two months after bringing them home. Neither liked the crate or ever chose to use it. A pen or gated in the kitchen worked for us.

When our pup was 5 months old we started letting him have the freedom of the house at night, as well as during the daytime when we were home. We noticed a remarkable difference in his daytime behaviour. He was so much calmer during the day when he was not gated in the kitchen at night.

Just some tips that we worked out. I would not use real baby gates for a 7 month old Lab x. They are too flimsy and too low. My OH made ours, they are very sturdy and 42 inches high. Pup could jump/climb that high if the floors on either side were not so slippery.

You really have to check your kitchen out from a puppy point of view because there is lots of stuff they can get into. We bought child drawer and door closures at Wallmart well in advance of getting our pup but never needed them. I would not leave it to chance though.

We had about 12 different toys and also rotated them. Three new ones each day and put the others away in a basket. We always made sure one toy was stuffable with a bit of treat, and one was chewable like a rope.

January 17th, 2009, 08:30 AM
Since my DH is rather crafty, in order to keep our two out of the kitchen while I'm cooking, and in if we need to, he built me a farmhouse half-door. We bought a solid wood door, cut it off so it is about four feet tall, and added a shelf top. Adding a handle and a coat of varnish, it only cost 60 US to build, and is way more sturdier than any gate you can buy, taller, and there are no places that a furbaby can get caught and stuck on accidently, so it is much safer. It closes off the kitchen, but you can still be open at the same time.

January 17th, 2009, 09:42 PM
These are all really great ideas! Thanks everyone for all the advice!

I've finally convinced my fiance to just TRY leaving him out for a bit at a time, just to see how he does. He's going on faith, which is all I can ask.

Since my pup just got neutered, he's wearing a cone and can't go in his crate right now (it's too small for him & the cone). So he's been left out overnight and he's been totally fine. I can only hope it's the same if we leave.

I love the idea of rotating toys to keep them interesting, having kongs to keep him busy, and the good advice about what kind of gates to use. I can't wait to get in the new house & try it out!

January 17th, 2009, 11:31 PM
I have a 4 yr old chocolate lab, did the crating when she was a puppy, then we did the baby gates to keep her in the kitchen, when we left we would crate her, when she was about 9mths old we were going to be away for about one hour and decided we would trust her and leave her out of her crate but only access to the kitchen. She did not fare well, still a puppy and needed to get into things. so back to the crate for another month or so while we were out.

After this time we allowed her to have the kitchen again and she did very well did not get into anything.

This past summer I decided that she was GROWN UP enough to have the whole house when I was away for 1 hour, she could not handle all of the freedom and I did not "puppy proof" back to being locked in the kitchen.

I think that she feels safer in the smaller area, I can leave things about and she has not bothered with them at all. Give more and there is just that much more to get into.

Ozzy is still young and needs to learn his boundrys, give him time and he will be a happy puppy.

Crate or not Crate, that you need to learn from him, klmccallum is right, having Ozzy's crate where you are makes it a safe place to be; near you.