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Growing up Pup -- Tips on Bringing down the Boundaries!!
  • HamletHamlet
    Posts: 146
    Heya :-) I haven't been on this forum in a couple months due to hectic work schedules and summer vacations, but have been happily browsing this week!!

    Hamlet is now almost 1 year old and we're thinking about starting to loosen the puppy rules. He is totally housebroken (i.e. I can't remember the last time we had an accident) and mostly well-behaved (typical Shiba). What we specifically want to do is be able to leave him home during the day with free reign of 90% of the house. He wouldn't be able to get into the computer room, however, since we keep that closed.

    We've been leaving him alone, unenclosed in short spurts (30 min to 1 hr) with no troubles and he was alone with free-reign of the house for almost 4 hours this week, no problems at all. He was actually sleeping on the ottoman when hubby got back!

    We're thinking that it's time to start moving him in the direction of being out most of the day - which would be about 8 hours or so 4 days a week. He would LOVE that since he would be able to play, snooze in his favorite spots, do the Shiba 500's and conduct Lizard Patrol out our big windows.

    We have a cat, but there are no aggression issues at all there (except for her batting him!).

    Any tips on how to prep for this and get him (and our house) ready? Gradually start leaving him out whenever we go out, and then take the plunge? Unfortunately, my work is far from home so I wouldn't be able to pop in and check on him during the day on his first "free" day.
  • McYogiMcYogi
    Posts: 518
    Post edited by McYogi at 2010-10-22 19:21:43
  • bobc33bobc33
    Posts: 287
    I began giving Scout free reign of the downstairs while I'm at work when she was about 7 months old. Actually it happened by accident when I came home one day she was sitting on the love seat looking out the window at the street. From then on I left her out, but before leaving I heavily bitter sprayed all electrical cords, moved my shoes to the mudroom, and left her with a frozen marrow bone or peanut butter stuffed frozen marrow bone. I also would put treats inside kongs inside cardboard boxes hidden somewhere. (My guess is it took her all of 2 minutes to find them once I left) I would take her toys and make piles of them balanced on each other so that when she knocked them over there would be a big commotion and hopefully engage her. Lucky us we have a neighbor who would take her out every day for 45 minutes early afternoon while I was at work.

    With all that she still chewed the furniture, dug holes in the hardwood floors, and tore apart the area rug. The one thing she doesn't chew is cords or cables, though I used untold bottles of bitter spray for many, many months. I accepted all those things as part of owning a Shiba. (but I'm not married so I didn't have to answer to anyone else)

    Now that I've added a second Shiba to the mix I leave both of them out, but can't leave treats or bones out for them as they sometimes have major tiffs over them. Again lucky for the now three of us we have other neighbors who frequently come get both of them to bring them over to their fenced in back yard to run with their American Eskimo puppy.
  • emmyemmy
    Posts: 553
    Some people here will tell you never to leave them out because it's dangerous. I 100 percent see that point of view. I do leave my shiba out during the day many days now... He is 2-3 years old (don't know exactly). He has never once chewed anything that didn't belong to him, though. He doesn't mess with the carpet, walls, woodwork, shoes, cords, clothes, nothing. Never has since I got him...never acts interested. He does get on the couches (I wrote a thread about that and was pretty much told that leaving him out means giving up). I started leaving him out like you hour at a time, then eventually up to like 4. But I left him out for 2-4 hours at a time regularly for MONTHS before I tried a full day. And he always did really, really well.

    My house is pretty dog-proof in terms of his safety. There is nothing in lower cabinets that would hurt him if he opened them (pots and pans and stuff, only). He is small and can't get to the countertops (not that I keep poison up there, or anything). I keep the doors to all the bedrooms and bathrooms and laundry room closed all the time, so he doesn't try to get in there when I'm gone. But the most important factor for me is that he really isn't mischevious. I think while I'm gone he sleeps in various locations throughout the living room, and plays with his toys a little, and that's about it. He usually doesn't even eat anything if I leave food out for him. I used to leave him a peanut butter kong out, but now I only do that sometimes. He does fine without. He pretty much does the same thing if I'm home.

    So.....advice. Umm....if he still needs correction to leave things alone that aren't his, I wouldn't risk it. Wait until you can't remember the last time you had to tell him to stop messing with something that didn't belong to him. I wouldn't do the cardboard box thing because I don't want to teach my dog that it's okay to tear up boxes around the house. I do, however, put treats in his crate, under his bed, in his toybox sometimes. If there are tempting things that could get him into trouble (either because you don't want him to do it or because it could hurt him), remove those things. Stick with the shorter time periods for longer so that he has months of track record not doing anything before you try 8 hours. And if you can, try to break up the 8 hours by having someone come in during the day for 30 min or so at a time so there isn't a jump from 4 hours to 8. If your dog has any kind of separation anxiety at all, then it takes more time. I have a friend with a dog that actually prefers to be crated, we think. She just seems so relieved when someone comes home...not just excited, almost like she was really stressed being out alone. And she tends to have digestive problems when left out on her own for too long.

    The dog trainer I have worked with a little is big on not giving dogs opportunities to fail. I think that leaving the dog out to do things you still have to correct it for when you are home is not good for training. And maybe you haven't tried shorter time periods quite enough yet to try a whole day if you've only done 4 hours once. Almost a year is doing 8 hours at a time. Good luck!
  • HamletHamlet
    Posts: 146
    Thanks for the tips!

    I think he is ready to start moving in that direction; we can't remember the last time he had an accident or chewed/destroyed things that aren't his toys. Carpet ripping stopped about two months ago and we've never had a problem with electric cables/cords since he chewed through our laptop cable five months ago and got the shock of a lifetime.

    We'll start leaving him out for longer periods until those become 'normal' with no 'incidents'. So probably two-four months or so. And then I can probably con my mom or sister to drop by during the day the first week to make sure everything is a-okay.

    Luckily, Ham has no real separation anxiety at all -- only gets upset if he's in an unfamiliar place AND by himself.
  • bump

    When do you know its time to try?

    I feel SO BAD leaving him every day in his crate when I go to work. Honestly, I can't get the look out of my mind when i move him from his dog bed to the crate.

    I am not the least bit worried about accidents in the house. I'll get a power washer and hose my place down with bitter apple if I have to. I am buying all new furniture (delivered Monday) so he can't jump from the couch (where he isn't allowed) to the kitchen counter.

    I don't want him chewing on walls, or destroying hardwood floor (its a rental), but can live with him destroying the carpet (he already did with the pen fiasco).

  • BootzBootz
    Posts: 3495

    Know thy dog! I think you should start off slow and work with an expen before you give him free roam. Also invest in a camera because well... You can always leave for short periods and see what he does.

    Honestly, if you wanna to it just because you feel bed, don't. You would feel worst if he ate through your dry wall or if something happened to him and you had to rush him to the vet.
  • zandramezandrame
    Posts: 1106
    Haha @BanjoTheBetaDog.. you've brought this up a few times recently. ;)

    Remember, it's not cruel to crate a dog. So don't struggle with this so much! Crating keeps them safe and out of trouble, and provides den-like comfort. When my dog wants to sleep, he goes to a crate anyway.

    But pretty much, start increasing his freedom slowly. Use an exercise pen or baby gates. Puppy-proof (remove all ink pens!) Set him up for success. Short periods for awhile, like 1-2 hours for dinner. Etc.

    Honestly, the recent incident with the pen tells me he's not reliable yet. I would not trust him loose. When you no longer have to say "leave it" in the house or take something away from him, he is reliable.
  • We stopped crating Quake when he was eighteen months old. He had never had an accident and had not ever destroyed any property so my son and I figured he deserved to have free reign of my son's small apartment. My son started by letting him have free reign for a few hours at a time. Luckily my son's work was a 5 minute drive from home so he could check in on Quake as Quake was getting adjusted. there were never any issues. When I adoped Quake he was 28 months old and I have not crated him and he is 38 months old now. However, I do not give him free reign of the whole apartment when I am gone. Most of the time he gets free reign of my bedroom, the entry way and the kitchen. The living room has more things he can get into and the adjoining office has lots of wires for the computer so he gets to go in there only when I am home. He has never tried to chew wires or anything but I do not want to take the risk. He is never allowed to go into the bathroom even when I am home because I don't want him to be tempted to mess with the trash basket or to get into the cabinets. I believe you have to analyze the behavior of the pooch and adjust the boundaries accordingly. For example, he seemed a little anxious when I was packing for my weekend trip and he started pulling things out of a basket in my bedroom. He had never done this before and I figured it was because he was anxious. Therefore, I restricted him to staying in the entry way which is a long hall way and the kitchen while I was gone. There is an oriental hallway rug in the entry way that he loves to lay on and of course I left toys for him to play. Also I left him with a wonderful pet sitter whom he loves. I had to restrict him in the same way after his neuter because his hormones were out of control and I did not want him to have any temptations of things to get into in my bedroom. Lastly, I think it wise to get Quake used to my being the one to decide how much free reign he gets in the home. I read somewhere that by restricting where they get free reign you are showing yourself to be the pack leader. I can see that he sees it as a type of non-edible treat to get to go into the living room and office area when Mum is home.
  • SO this weekend I made a planned banjo test:

    What I've learned:

    1) I SUCK at puppy-proofing... I need to be more diligent

    2) When the apt is puppy proofed, Banjo is good for at least 2 hours.

    3) If he eats an entire bully stick, he goes straight to sleep. If I take away the bully stick before he is done, he still has energy.

    The new furniture comes in today (and although its new, its MUCH less expensive than the furniture I have).

    In the house he only "breaks the rules" if he feels neglected (i.e. if I am on the couch reading or watching TV).

    I feel pretty good about it being an "eventual" thing, but we aren't there yet.

    @zandrame, its always at the forefront of my mind!!! "Can Banjo be happier?"

  • @BanjoTheBetaDog-you seem to be doing the right things. I am sure you'll be able to leave Banjo out uncrated eventually. Quake was six months older than Banjo is now when he was first left uncrated.
  • So is it better to wait until after their adolescent tween period?

    We put up a little gated area for Nymeria in the kitchen, but the lil bugger has figured out how to open it. We came back a few times to her so proud of herself hanging out on the couch. So we've gone back to the crate, until we can figure out how to thwart her gate opening skills.

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