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Am I making a mistake by leaving them home alone uncrated so soon?

1698 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  wvasko
My puppies are just past 4 months old. They have done great with crate training and with being left in their "play suite" (laundry room + two hallways off of it... plenty of chew toys, fresh water, and an emergency pee pad in the laundry room right in front of the door they use for going potty)... they basically never had any accidents while I was gone.

So a couple of weeks ago, I tried leaving them home for an hour or two with (almost) free run of the house. (The house is puppy-proofed pretty well... nothing tempting they could get into and nothing dangerous, and I took them out for vigorous play time for about an hour before I left.)

They did great... they greeted me with yawns as though they had slept the whole time. So I've been doing that every time for the last couple of weeks (always making sure they've had a brisk walk/playtime before I leave).

They have not had one single potty accident... they've never chewed anything they shouldn't... they are just gorgeously well behaved the whole time I'm gone. One day when it was beautiful weather, I opened the back door to the screened-in deck (and closed the deck door) so they could lounge on the deck if they wanted.

As long as they are well exercised beforehand and have plenty of puppy-safe boredom activities to do, is there a good reason I should go back to blocking them off? Of course I still would never leave them for more than an hour or two like that.
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Are these littermates? My only concern would be that as they mature they might fight. Adolesence seems to be the age where the pecking order is established and without the true leader (you) present, issues may arise. Just something to consider. However, I am known to be quite a coward and our 4 dogs are always crated when we are not home.
Hm, yes, they are littermates... they play-fight a lot already. Should I be stopping that??
As far as I know play fighting is good. It teaches bite inhibition and proper doggy socializtion. We have littermates and they prefer to play with each other first and if one is away then they will initiate play with one of the other dogs. I am not sure if they will fight, like I said, I am a coward, and I always err on the side of caution. Our dogs don't mind their crates, so we keep them there to keep them safe.
I feel that if you have to ask yourself that question, then they are too young. My feelings are this... puppies chew. They chew electrical cords, they chew things that can get stuck in their intestines, then will require surgery. Your safest and surest way to prevent anything that is preventible from happening is to crate them until they are adults.
Your puppies seem to be doing just fine. As long as the routine of walking them first before you leave works, things will be fine. They are tired from the exercise so they tend to sleep and well, that causes less accidents. Besides you are just leaving them for an hour or so. You can try adding more hours each time to see if they can hold up to being behaved pups.
I think just give them a little more attention and play with them so that there will be a more personal touch and it will help them behave properly too.
No way to tell, really. 4 months is on the young-side, but if you've gotten INCREDIBLY lucky in the puppy mischief lottery and you've done a really good job of puppy proofing? You may be fine. Mal was able to be left out at that age for short stints (but had to go back to being crated for a bit as a teenager); Lizzie at 14 months is nowhere NEAR being ready to be left out unattended.
As long as they are well exercised beforehand and have plenty of puppy-safe boredom activities to do, is there a good reason I should go back to blocking them off? Of course I still would never leave them for more than an hour or two like that.
For an hour or two, you're probably fine, for now. However, they ARE still very young, AND, what one may not do . . .watch out for TWO! LOL Two males of the same litter can, and often do, start fighting. Too much togetherness is not necessarily a good thing. With multiple dogs, you want to ensure that they're separated for periods of time, because you don't want them becoming (too) dependent on each other, for many reasons, but also, because you don't want their bond with each other to be stronger than their bond with you. When that happens, training becomes difficult (they don't listen to you - the focus is on the other dog). Adolescense can be very trying - much more difficult than puppyhood, with lots of acting out, if you will, and "selective hearing," not to mention "forgetting" what they've already learned. Also, in case you leave collars on them while they're in the house, be sure to remove those collars when they're together. I've heard horror stories about strangulation with one dog's teeth stuck on the collar, and can't get free . . . a safety issue, to be sure.

I have 4 well-behaved dogs who all get along beautifully. Would I ever leave them all out free? NO WAY! Maddy and Beau, yes. They're nearly 8 yrs. old, and have been together over 6 yrs., and, a male and female are less likely to get into a fight. They can get pissy with each other when I haven't taken the time to give them each one-on-one time with me, so, when that's the case (I've been remiss), I will crate Beau, and lock his gate. Just in case. I'd much rather error on the side of safety. Luc (Shih Tzu) I crate because of the huge size difference between him and the Standard Poodles, and he's pretty cocky sometimes, so . . . Lucia, the puppy, though potty trained, is still a puppy, and full of energy . . .don't want her bugging the older dogs (who enjoy her very much, and I want to keep it that way), so she is crated. Safety first is my motto.

Many people can't wait to stop using the crate, and let their dog(s) have freedom of the house at an early age. I prefer to keep the crates up and in use for the duration of their lives, because, should they have to be crated for some reason, then they won't be stressed by being placed in a crate, AND, there are times when one, or more, need to be contained for a multitude of reasons.
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Hmm... all of that is great food for thought, poodleholic... thank you. We do keep their crate up (and in fact I just bought another one to keep downstairs), although I admit I let them run freely the entire time we're home because they're housetrained and are very clear about when they need to go out. Honestly, usually when I leave it's not even for an hour... it's a 20-minute trip to pick something at the store that's only a couple of minutes away.

But, you've given me a lot to chew on about keeping the two puppies together... we have been crating them together, blocking them off together etc... because they do get along so well together (and until a couple of weeks ago, would cry when they had to be separated). That is a great point about their bond with me needing to be stronger than their bond with each other. I guess I was assuming that would happen naturally... when our older dog's littermate was alive, they were both FAR more bonded with my husband and me than with each other... but wow, that's something I should be careful about. Thanks so much for your input!
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Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry said it best "Are you feelin lucky today" (he added "punk" to statement but I didn't want to offend) What works today may all of a sudden change when pups enter their teen-age years.
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