Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pooches: Home Alone

Just the other day someone asked how we knew when our pooches were able to be left home alone without a crate. They were wondering if it was an age thing, or just signs that they should watch for.
I do remember it was a big deal when I started leaving Miss M home alone without putting her in her crate. I started out by leaving her out in short bursts. When I went to the laundromat (the Jolly Rogers which was literally across the street!) I would leave Miss M free in my apartment. I would see her little face watching out the window and I could literally watch her until I walked into the laundromat. Then I would toss my laundry in really quickly, run back across the street and realize..everything was still fine. Eventually I just started leaving her for longer amounts of time, and it was still ok.
Though Mr. B's home alone experience was quite different. He suffered severe isolation distress and he would use his head as a battering ram to get out of his crate. Coming home to Mr B with cuts allover his face and a crate so bashed out it looked cartoon-like, made us just drop the crate thing altogether and see how he would do on his own. Luckily, he was fine though things like this do happen every so often.
We still have a ritual we do with the pooches each time we leave the home. They 'go to bed' and wait for us while we give them a frozen kong, then we slip out the door. Even if we're going for just a short amount of time, we give them a 'fake kong' which isn't as good, but gives them something to do as we make our escape.
What has everyone else's experience been? How did you know when your pooch was ready to be left home alone? Or are crates always a good thing to keep them out of trouble?

PS. Our previous discussion on whether it's ok to let go of the crate completely.

23 comments:

Heids said...

I still don't have the courage to leave Pork Chop out of the crate. He seems to be happy to be in there, and I would have to doggie proof the apartment so much to leave him out (In addition to relocating all garbage, I would basically have to strip the sofa since the only thing he likes to chew on are cushions, and the only thing he gets into that he's not supposed to is the trash) that I don't think it would be worth it. But maybe I will try leaving him alone for bits of time to see how he does. He would have to be isolated from the bedrooms (more pillows!) but maybe it would be fun for him to be a bachelor with the run of the rest of the house. Great post!

Pauley, the Mr. or the Mrs. said...

Annie & Chloe were never crated. We only started using crates when we started fostering. Apparently Pauley was ready & we did not know it so he destroyed his crate to make sure we got the point. To his credit though, he just wants to sit at the window & watch everyone.

Taylor G said...

We routinely use our crate. Mugsy had destroyed or gotten out of 3 crates before we bought a heavy duty crate (literally online next to tiger cages). He would try to get out because he was still not always able to hold it until we got home but that issue is no longer a problem (fingers crossed). Since day one we have trained Mugsy that his cage is his "home" and a safe spot. We never punished him by putting him in the kennel so he always feels comfortable in it. At night all I have to do is say "go to your home" or "goodnight" and he willing goes to his kennel. Since its a safe spot for him we will probably crate him for awhile. Why risk coming home to a disaster if he is fine in his home? We have left him out for short trips (30 min or less) and will probably give him more freedom as he gets older (only 2 yrs old) but for now he can spend his days lounging in his home with the radio on. Tough life

Luv My Rosie said...

Rosie told me she was done with her crate when I would come home and she would be out of it. I figured it was time to leave her out of it since I didn't want her to get hurt trying to escape. I have an enclosed balcony which she loves to sit out during the summer. I leave the door open for her so she can come and go as she pleases. BUT leaving her uncrated has come with some challenges. She sometimes suffers from anxiety so I have lost numerous things in my house due to her anxiety but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Debra said...

We still crate Ray, who at 6 months is not completely trustworthy to not eat pillows and throw rugs. I did just begin to leave him out if I am just running to the store or bank, so maybe just 30 minutes or less.

Two Kitties One Pittie said...

We crate Zoe, but only because we like to let the cats have some time to have free reign of the apartment. I do leave her uncrated if I'm running a quick errand, and then I close the front room door to separate her from the cats.

Sarah said...

We did the same as you with Maggie & Sadie. Maggie was about 2 when we first started allowing free reign of the house. Sadie never needed to be crated but we didn't' think it fair to crate one and not the other. Now that we have Hurley,we're starting over. The girls love their crates & don't mind being back in them. I'm not sure Hurley will ever earn full access to the house. He's too much of a garbage hound & counter surfer but we hope by next year, he'll have matured enough to hang out in our den without a crate.

K-Koira said...

I still crate Koira, because when she got her shoulder injured, she was on crate rest and got so bored that she started shredding things again (which she hasn't done for years). I give her a kong when I leave, but she always waits until I get home before eating it. My dog is a little bit strange though.

Trissi_V said...

Ughhhhh!!!! I thought our dogs were ok without a crate...but they proved me wrong on several occasions. One night we forgot and left them in while we went to dinner, oh they are fine we thought...perfect dogs. Laci ate my loafer (just the right one). Then on a particularly miserable day, I decided to forgo the crate since it was a pain to setup in the apartment...I am only going to the post office. Laci did a pinpoint strike on the stocking bags and ate all the gingerbread (perfectly wrapped in plastic, I couldn't smell them, but she could). Oh and then there was the down pillow she destroyed...I had just got them, feathers all over the place.

So now, we have to crate both dogs, can't crate one without the other.

EmilyS said...

Important to remember that the issue is not just whether the uncrated dogs will destroy your house... but whether something will trigger a disagreement and you'll come home to injured dogs.

This is not just a pit bull issue... I know someone who came home to find her border collies had tried to kill each other.

So be really really sure your dogs are safe with each other and don't leave out anything that could trigger somesthing

Two Pitties in the City said...

Good point Emily. I forgot to mention that we usually crate Miss M because Mr. B does have free reign. Prior to getting Mr. B I had heard some horror stories about dogs unsupervised just getting into arguments over stuffies or eating trash and I always had that in the back of my head. We definitely do it when we're gone all day, but now our guys are getting so old, and they don't even really play or get in arguments when we're home, that on shorter trips we will let Miss M out and we usually find them just sleeping on a cushion together.

Jen said...

We never crated Elka, but we did used to put up a baby gate to keep her in the kitchen. After awhile, she wasn't having accidents, and we had a handle on what she would or wouldn't get into, and we left her "free range" for longer.

Two French Bulldogs said...

We have to try that stay in bed thing. I, once in awhile will make monkey noises. I sound like a monkey or baby being tortured. We think it is fear of being abandoned or something. My Lily shapes her mouth in a circle like Snoopy and makes wild animal noises. This rarely happens anymore. Mom learned to ignore us when she leaves and comes home. It works wonders. We never destroy our stuffies or house either. So overall we have adjusted. But we MUST be together
Benny & Lily

Kitty+Coco said...

I was young and dumb, and did not crate train my two. Wish I had. However, they do not destroy anything and get along well. The only issue is with sometimes going potty in the house if we are gone too long. We don't have access to a dog sitter, so this has been an issue for us. They are not allowed access to any of the bedrooms while we are gone, and no trash cans are accessible. Guess you could say we have doggy proofed a goodly amount.

Mel said...

We were so paranoid when we first started leaving Ender out that we actually bought a camera so we could periodically check on him throughout the day from our computers/phones. The awesome thing is that you get to shush him from your computer, which we only had to do once when he started howling when the dog walker came to get Barksdale and not him.

http://www.twopitbulls.blogspot.com/2012/02/freedom.html

houndstooth said...

We have two who stay in crates and two who have freedom when we're gone. Honestly, I think you just have to use your intuition and know your dog. Some of ours have been a lot more comfortable having a crate to go to, and some didn't care for it at all!

Carrie C said...

This is such a well timed post for me. We are trying our hand at fostering for the first time. We have a good sized Pitt bull type dog that has free reign of the house and has for years. Our foster chihuahua is kept in a bathroom with a crate we keep open and then we use baby gates too. We also let him sleep downstairs with the same set up while our dog sleeps upstairs in our room on her dog bed. The question- we are growing very fond of the foster dog and interactions between the two dogs have been positive. We will obviously keep them separated for the forseeable future when we are not at home.
However, is it unfair to keep foster dog in his "den" downstairs at night?? My husband and I are having issues with it being " fair" to him if he becomes a member of our family full time. But he is safe and
comfortable even though he is separated at night. He barks for a minute and settles right down.

Terri said...

I started to leave the crate door closed, but unlocked when I went away for short periods of time to "test" Axel at being alone in the house. He thought he got away with something by greeting me at the door and never did anything wrong.

Now the crate door is wide open and he "kennels" right before I leave and gets his treat.

If I am dog sitting another dog, Axel gets crated if only to give him some peace from all the playing.

Emily said...

We are going through this right now. Our dogs have been happily crate trained for over a year. The second I would put my shoes on, close the curtain etc. they'd run to their crates and wait for their treat. It just hit me one day, they are so well behaved, they aren't destructive, why are we doing this? They are over three years old, it just doesn't make sense anymore. I told myself they enjoyed their crate time and were happy (which I believe is true,) but I also realized they were mature enough to let go. It's been going great except for the one quilt they destroyed. I am happy we decided to put the extra trust in them.

A Wonderful Dogs Life said...

We were allowed out for longer and longer increments over a period of time. It's been so long since we were in a kennel I'm having some difficulty remembering what that was like. I'm most sure it was not half as comfy as my couch :)

Aww, poor Mr. B someone huffed and puffed and blew over his tepee. At least he held tight to his pillow ;)

Emma

Rebelwerewolf said...

We started talking about leaving Badger uncrated, but then he ate the leg off one of our giant spider decorations (it's Halloween year-round at our place). We're considering stepping up to it by getting a baby gate and leaving Badger out of his crate at night while gating off the living room area where the giant spiders are.

Mushroom, whom we just adopted in February, is not yet ready to be left out without supervision, because she still has accidents in the apartment.

jacquelincangro said...

Reggie doesn't stay in a crate while I'm gone. He had a similar experience as Mr. B where he would get very frustrated in the crate but as soon as he was out, he was fine.

I also give him a frozen Kong when I leave. He only gets that treat when I leave and no other time. So he associates my leaving with the yummy treat inside the Kong. Now he can't wait for me to get out the door. it's almost like he's saying "Will you go already?"

Mary said...

I am potentially starting a full-time job soon, so I am trying to figure out what to do with the boys. When I was in school, they shared their room with Neptune in his crate and Levi out. I would love to leave Neptune out, but I am too scared that they will fight. Even though they have never once shown aggression toward one another, I would never forgive myself if something happened to one of them. I know someone who came home to a dead dog, and I just cannot imagine the guilt and
agony:( So, for the time being, we will probably still keep Neptune in his crate. I think he's happy in there since Levi is in the same room with him.

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