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Transitioning from the crate- need advice!

July 6th, 2009, 03:52 PM
Molly has been crate trained since the day we got her at 6 months old. This came in really handy for housebreaking, and just generally adjusting to routines. Well it's 1.5 years later, and she sleeps in her own bed in our room at night, and only ever goes in her crate when we have to leave her alone at home. She doesn't ever put up a fuss, has a nice big crate and just seems to sleep when she's left in there.
Now we have moved into our first home, and she loves it here- has her own yard, just lays out there and watches the birds and squirrels quite nicely, and gets to go to the park for fetch every day as well as a walk or two (I am a teacher- gotta love summers off! ;))
we really want her to be able to stay home alone in the house instead of her crate. We have been doing "test runs", leaving her out while we run to get the mail or some other quick errand and she has been about 80% "good"- no accidents, no destructive behaviours, and no barking (that we can hear anyways). However, in the past week she had 2 "slip-ups"- one time she climbed up onto the kitchen table and got a peach out of the fruit bowl and ate half of it (it was kinda funny :laughing: but I didn't let her know that I thought so!) and then another time, DH left the cordless phone on the coffee table and she chewed the antenna off :eek:
Is this her way of telling us she's not ready yet? Or should we keep trying for short periods, and hope that the "novelty" for her wears off? If we are leaving for more than an hour, I still put her in her crate since I don't trust her for that long yet. I also exercise her (running/ fetching at the park every morning) so she is relatively tired when I leave her alone.
Sorry for the long winded post but I would really appreciate any advice or input. It's not possible to gate off one area, as our house is relatively open. We do, however, close the door to the spare room where we keep her food and DH keeps all his fishing stuff (sharp hooks!)
Thanks in advance!:dog:

July 6th, 2009, 05:29 PM
We crated Gryphon for about 2 & 1/2 years then one day, we let him have the run of the house and POOF! Nothing happened. :lightbulb: We still have the crate but took it down and just stored it away.

Perhaps Molly is still saying that she's not quite ready and if she isn't afraid of the crate, maybe just a little while longer might be a good thing. :thumbs up

She's such a sweetie Mollywog! :lovestruck:

July 6th, 2009, 05:38 PM
Yup, every dog is different.

An old friend of mine didn't believe in crates and no way you were going to change his mind. Instead he muzzled the poor dog for 9 hours a day everyday. :rolleyes:

July 6th, 2009, 07:58 PM
yes, we have only really been in our house for 10 days, so she is still adjusting, but she is adjusting very well. I think I will stick with the crate for most of the time and leave her out if I know I will only be gone for 30 mins or so. :)
Has anyone else had experience with going from crate- free range? (good or bad!) :angel::evil:

July 6th, 2009, 08:05 PM
Has anyone else had experience with going from crate- free range? (good or bad!) :angel::evil:

Yes , all the time :wall: as a matter a fact .... Nelly is going back to crate tomorrow and I got the second crate out , for my sister's golden that I'm dogsitting. They had a little too much fun today :evil: I can't believe I have to crate 4-5 yr old dogs !!!


If you have time in the morning , before going to work , to play with Molly , and I mean to "burn" her , so she can be tired when you leave , it helps. But .... not always :yell: :p

you can also leave her a frozen PB Kong ... that would keep her occcupied for a while after you leave.

Gail P
July 6th, 2009, 11:44 PM
Interesting timing of this thread, I just packed Dru's crate away today. (Yay! Now I can get at my dressers and closet again, instead of living out of laundry baskets piled up on top of the crate that was blocking everything! With all the pups we keep adopting, excepting the few months here and there when I've had the crate put away before, it's been over 4 years since I've been able to freely move around my bedroom!) Dru's 11 1/2 months now and I figured I might as well put the crate away since I haven't been closing him in it for ages now at night, and he's been left loose in the house for longer and longer periods without any problem.

I usually start out with the "trial runs" as well, 10 or 15 minutes, then a bit longer, then up to an hour or more, then about 3-4 hours on the days when I go out to do all my errands, banking and shopping in town. I've found that once they can be safely left that long they're usually good for whatever length of time I'm gone.

Each dog is a little different but most of mine have graduated out of the crate at around 8-10 months. Thunder decided that shoes were tasty at around 9 months so he went back to crating for a while longer before we tried again, and Dru was probably one of the longer ones too since when I got him at 5 months he had been a farm puppy that wasn't really housebroken completely. He was pretty good when let out often, but it took him a while to understand that he needs to tell me when he wants out.

I think the longest we've used a crate for a pup was when we had Danes. At the time we had a brother and sister, Pongo and Perdie, and then I got my collie Noah as well, so we had 3 puppies in the house. The Danes outgrew the crates I had borrowed for them, so we started shutting the dogs in the hallway when we were out but with 3 of them it was pretty crazy. They were destructive, tearing off trim from around the doorways and they also bit and crushed the plastic doorknobs. I had a feeling that Pongo was the instigator so we built him a huge custom crate (had to take down our spare bed to make space!) and then we were able to leave Perdie and Noah loose. I can't remember for sure at what age we stopped crating Pongo, but I think it was close to 2 years.

July 7th, 2009, 08:53 AM
The only "problem" we've had with crate-to-free range transitions, both times, was destructive chewing. Truthfully, though, in all cases it was totally avoidable, because we'd left something out and within reach of a curious mouthy puppy. We've never had furniture destroyed, that would be a whole other thing and probably would mean a much slower transition until we could deal with the problem. Now Heidi is the only chewer, and it's really just a matter of double checking the rooms she has access to and making sure there are no shoes on the floor or tempting things on the coffee table (yeah, we've got teeth marks in both our remotes too :laughing:). Provide lots of safe chewies like nylabones of different shapes and flavours so there's a chewy outlet.
The only other thing I would say is to limit the spaces they have available when they're alone. Sounds like you're already blocking off some rooms...our house is super-open-concept too, but we do have a second story. I recently built some gates for the bottom of the stairs, so now the dogs only have access to the main floor when we're away, so there's less space to monitor.

July 7th, 2009, 12:24 PM
ok, good, sounds like some people here are going through the same thing. Bendy- good point, about making sure everything is put away before you leave. Its usually the little things that she likes to chew (pencils, pens, portable phone :eek:) but keeps away from shoes and furniture so that's good. I am sure she may go in phases, and I know for a fact that it really helps if she's tired out first.
I just went out shopping for an hour, and all was ok when I returned. That's a good sign! :thumbs up

July 7th, 2009, 01:39 PM
What did you buy me? :laughing:

July 7th, 2009, 01:40 PM
:laughing: I went out to get groceries but some clothes followed me home! :eek: :o