Wherever he was when I left is exactly where he’ll be when I return
Of course that wasn’t always the case. Like Penny, Eko was crate trained as a pup and loved his den. When we traveled around the country, I brought Eko’s crate so he would always feel right at home. Between our time on the road and Eko’s minor separation anxiety, I didn’t feel comfortable leaving him home alone until he was over a year old.
With Penny now six-months old, I find myself revisiting the topic of leaving a puppy uncrated while out of the house. I’m working to discover the right balance between the safety/security of the crate and the freedom of a maturing pup.
It would be great for Penny to spend time sunbathing rather than being crated
I’ve scoured the web, and not surprisingly there is no consensus on an age-appropriate time to begin leaving a dog home alone. Circumstance, timing, personality and temperament are just a few of the variables to consider.
Here in Chicago I have a small apartment, a steady schedule and a puppy who is much more mature and independent than Eko was at that age. With that in mind I’ve started to transition Penny away from her crate.
My concern of course is that while I’m gone Penny will get bored, and slink off the couch looking for mischief
Sure, it’s a small apartment, but Penny’s got an imagination when it comes to dreaming up fun things to do
However, she and I happen to differ on the definition of “fun”
The key to this endeavor (as with all pup-endeavors) is that I need to set Penny up for success. If I leave slippers around on the floor or leave a closet door open, I’m just asking for trouble. My first rule is that I always try to make sure Penny is tired/well-fed before I go. I also give her a treat and use the familiar “be right back” phrase she knows. Lastly, I strategically deploy toys of varying size/texture around the apartment.
Need to bite something? Go for one of these!
The process is essentially an extension of crate training. In the past week I have left Penny stay out of her crate for increasing lengths of time. Training has progressed nicely and I’m happy to report there have been no major issues so far (fingers crossed).
I attribute part of Penny’s success to my use of a “failsafe.” Penny loves the $10 kitchen mat we have. I know if she gets an itch, she’ll go right for it. I could remove the mat when I leave, but then where would Penny direct those chompers? Better the devil you know, I say. Out of the ten or so times I’ve left Penny alone, three times she’s taken a bite out of the mat. Not a bad average, and I’m happy to sacrifice the mat for a good cause.
Anywhere but the molding Pen, we have a security deposit to think about
I’m cautiously optimistic about Penny’s progress. She’s still very young and likely prone to random-acts-of-punkness once she hits her “teenage” phase in the next few months. We’ll keep working on it, but I’m really interested to hear your story and get as much insight as I can.
When did you start leaving your dog home alone? How did you do it and is there anything you would have done differently?