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Hi all. I know this is a generic question and no doubt always one people ask. But we lost our 13yr old cocker in Feb and it was heart breaking. He always coped perfectly well with being left in the mornings and afternoons, though he was adopted by us at 16 months old so was somewhat trained.

So we had our little Rex 3 weeks ago now, he's coming up to 14 weeks old.
He's loving and adorable, typical spaniel, loves attention and cuddles and company. All of which breaks my heart when thinking about him being left for a a set amount of hours daily.

How many hours? It'll be close to 4 hours at worst in mornings, and 2.5 hours at worst in afternoons. Weekdays only. Most weekdays he will have my parents and inlaws breaking those times up, but one day a week at least he'll have that worst case scenario.

He's spent some time in a crate, and he hated it. I get it - we weren't strong enough to stick with it, and it's our own faults really. But he now sleeps in our room at night crated well. He just does not want to be in a crate when left at all. So I bought a pen/enclosure, and sat the crate with an open door, covered on all sides for that safety den feel, but he will not go in it. It has a soft dressing gown in there so he can smell his keepers. His food and water is in the enclosure. He will whine and cry and go mad, but if he does settle down, it's only for short periods and it's never in the actual crate, just on the kitchen floor within the enclosure.

I am looking for advice on getting rid of the crate, and just having the bedding inside the enclosure? Thoughts on this? He won't have a den, but he doesn't seem to want one. Or should I be shutting the door on the crate and forcing the matter? The problem is then no food/water/toilet/toy space.

Can anybody help me out with some really obvious tips that I've not yet considered? Please - no backlash on leaving a puppy alone, this puppy will be more loved than many for 75% of it's time - my wife is a teacher so there are weeks every year where he's loved daily, but leaving him is inevitable.

Many thanks in advance for any advice, tips, or reading material!
 

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Many of us on this forum have to work outside of our homes and need to confine our dogs one way or another during those hours, so no judgement here.

It's pretty normal for puppies to fuss a bit when being left alone or crated. Look up "Crate Games" either on this forum or google and it will provide many helpful games to teach your puppy that the crate is a good place to be, as well as teaching them to be left alone. It kind of sounds like he's fine with the crate, it's the being left alone part that he doesn't enjoy!

My guess is that eventually the puppy is going to grow large enough to where the ex-pen enclosure no longer contains him. He'll be able to jump over. It's fine for now, and many people use the crate attached to ex-pen method, especially when the puppy is very young and can't hold their bladder for an entire work day and they have no options to let them out during lunch. The pup will potty in the enclosure and sleep in the crate, basically. If I had the opportunity to let my puppy out as often as you can, I would do away with the enclosure and focus on crate training and potty training.

Do you have Kong toys? I fill Kongs with wet dog food and plug the ends with peanut butter, freeze them, and then use that as my dog's special crate treat. The licking and chewing is calming, and it occupies them so they don't kick up a fuss when you leave. You can also fill them with some of your dog's regular kibble, moistened with water.

I am looking for advice on getting rid of the crate, and just having the bedding inside the enclosure? Thoughts on this? He won't have a den, but he doesn't seem to want one. Or should I be shutting the door on the crate and forcing the matter? The problem is then no food/water/toilet/toy space.
As I mentioned above, the enclosure might not contain him forever. You might get lucky and have a puppy who doesn't want to jump it or is minimally destructive and only requires a puppy-proofed room, but, personally, I would be working hard on acclimating him to being crated and left alone. It's really up to you and what works best for your household, though, so if the enclosure works better than the crate for you, just do you. Here is another video resource from Kikopup on crate training tips. I believe she has many more videos on crate training if you surf her channel. Here is another on separation training.

Adult dogs don't need constant access to food and toilet space, and it sounds like the puppy will get so many breaks and be left alone for so little time that it won't be a big deal for him, either. You can get special water bowls that clip to the side of the crate so they don't spill, too, but if they're crated in a climate controlled house they barely drink anything, anyway. They just sleep. A simple nylabone chew or something similar is all dogs need inside the crate for toys.
 
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