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I will be getting a 6 month lab puppy soon and want to prepare my home for him in the best way possible. I work at home so it helps that I will be home most of the time.

I am not sure of some things regarding the "set up" of his living space:

1. Is it best to put his crate in my room upstairs in the beginning so he will get used to his new home and easier for me to know if he needs to go out to go toileting? If so, how long should I keep it there? Or should I start to train him to be in his crate downstairs in the kitchen/living area (these are the highest traffic areas in the house)?

2. Should I put a cover on the crate (all sides except the door)? If he barks or whines during his first night, should I open his crate door and let him out or ignore him until he stops?

3. Should I have a second crate, one upstairs and one downstairs (I work at home and will be downstairs during the day while I work)?

4. Is having a roofed kennel out in the patio a good idea for when we have to leave the house, or when I am working during the day inside the house provided the weather is not too hot or too cold, or raining? I have a fenced back yard area but my gas grill and furniture is out there. I don't want him to be out there and then start chewing everything, especially the gas line from the propane tank of the grill. I have umbrellas, chairs, hose, etc.... out there.

5. Is there a benefit to connecting a crate to an EXpen, or will it encourage him to go potty inside the expen as opposed to letting me know to go outside?

6. Is it good to have an ex-pen set up during the day so that I can go about my work during the day and he can still see me while I work? I don't want to be working and just let him be by himself in the other room. He might start chewing stuff or do something he is not supposed to.

I normally work in my living area during the day, so would it be best to leave his crate there? While I am working, is it better to leave his crate open and then put a fence/gate at all the doorways/passageways that lead to the other rooms of the house so I can always see him and what he is doing while I work?

I have some rather new furniture (leather chairs, rugs, console tables, end tables, etc...) that I want to protect from the dog damaging them by chewing. So I am thinking of putting gates/fences to prevent him from going in rooms when I can't be in those rooms.

I'm trying to plan my day to day activities with the new dog when I have to work during the day, and what is the best routine to have with my new dog. Any advice from experienced lab owners would help a lot! Thanks in advance!
 

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1. It's really up to you. Some people get two crates, one for their bedroom and one for the general living area. Some just get one. Personally, if I had just one, I would put it in my bedroom.

2. Some dogs like a covered crate, and some don't. You can certainly test it and see if it works for your pup.

3. Again, up to you. It might work better for you to have two.

4. It's not something I would spend money on. Most likely, in 2-3 years the pup can be trusted to just hang out in the backyard by himself while you are home. If you are gone, most adult dogs, barring medical issues, can hold it a full 8-9 hour work day. And if you work from home he'll probably be alone for less than that, so will be fine in a crate.

5. At 6 months old, your pup is probably large enough to jump over/knock down an ex-pen. Some pups will respect a barrier even though they can go through it if they want, so I guess it wouldn't hurt to try. I would baby gate an area (doubling up, one atop the other if he tries to jump them) off for him so he is near you, but can't leave your sight. Make sure he has plenty of chews to occupy himself, and just make sure to take him outside for a quick potty break every 30 minutes to an hour. It may end up being longer for an older pup, and know that the frequent potty breaks are only temporary and will go away as he learns that he has to wait until he gets outside to go potty.

If you can't commit to potty breaks that often, then I would crate him. He will be fine with a break at lunch.

6. Again, is probably too big for an x-pen. Refer to number 5.

There really are so many different ways to do this, you just have to find the right one for you. If the pup is reasonably behaved loose in the room with you present and doesn't get into anything, I would say keeping him within sight is good enough. If you find that he's still finding ways to chew on things he shouldn't even with you in the room, then I would crate him in the room with you, and he should only be loose when you can 100% supervise him.

As for a routine, you may want to take him for a walk and play with him and make sure he has gone potty and been fed in the morning. A break at lunch. Then more walks and playtime in the evening. The rest of time, he should be expected to chill while you work.
 
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