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I'm just looking for some feedback on if I'm doing the right thing here. My dog Noah is almost 3 years old. He was crate trained as a puppy, and we crated him when we weren't home and at bedtime until he was reliably housetrained at about a year old. At that point we started crating him only when we were gone, and at bedtime he just sleeps in the bedroom with us. He is very well-behaved in the house, and when he was 1.5 years old, we tried leaving him uncrated while we left home for a couple hours. We returned to find that he had pulled the door jam off the door to our garage, I assume trying to get out to follow us. Since then, we have continued to crate him whenever we're gone.

Because of our odd work schedules, he is only crated a couple of days a week for a few hours at a time because someone is usually home most of the time. He has never really liked his crate, but as he's gotten older he has started to hate it more and more. At this point, he barks incessantly in the crate and we come home to find him completely soaked in his own saliva. I've tried putting chews and stuffed kongs in the crate, but he doesn't touch them. We use airline-type plastic crates, and recently he managed to rip a hole in the top part of the crate where the air holes are. We replaced the crate, but he's been chewing the new one too and I'm worried he will hurt himself trying to break out. He goes NUTS when we let him out of the crate, regardless of if he's been in there for 5 minutes or 5 hours.

So, I've recently started trialing leaving him uncrated again for short periods of time. (To clarify, this dog is perfectly behaved in the house when we are home, or I wouldn't try this.) I started by leaving him when I drive my daughter to school in the morning (total time about 10 minutes). At first upon return I'd find him standing at the door seeming a bit concerned, but after several weeks of this he seems to be used to it and he hasn't damaged anything. A few times I've stopped to do a few errands and pushed my time gone to about 30 minutes, and he has done okay with that too. I have avoided acknowledging him at all when I'm leaving or returning, so he gets the message that this is not a big deal.

My question is: Does what I'm doing sound like the right thing for my dog? Is it reasonable to continue to increase the length of time I am gone while he's loose, or do you think I'm pushing my luck? Is it better to start leaving him at different times of the day before I start increasing the length of time? My hope is that ultimately he will be 100% trustworthy in the house, and we can forgo the crate at home altogether.
 

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It sounds ok to me. The drooling and continuous barking when he's in the crate makes me lean toward SA, and it could be worsened by being in the crate. If he seems less anxious when you leave him out, I'd continue to try it. Try it at different times of day, and also for different lenghts of time, gradually increasing.

Have you ever tried just leaving him in one dog safe room, blocked off with a baby gate? That way, you could limit the amount of trouble he could get into, just in case. I definitely wouldn't actually shut the door to the dog safe room, just block it off with a baby gate. Shutting the door can lead him to feel isolated and make just as stressed as in the crate.
 

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Thanks for your feedback. If we run into any setbacks with him being loose, I might consider confining him to a room. The problem is that we don't have any unfinished rooms other than the small utility room (definitely not dog-safe); so if he does become destructive, we'd basically have to accept that the woodwork or sheetrock in the chosen room might be destroyed. I'm guessing a dog trying to chew through woodwork or sheetrock could injure himself too? For now, I think I will cross my fingers and keep trying to just leave him loose, as long as he continues to do okay with it. He really is pathetic in the crate. :-(
 

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I have a brand new kelpie cross puppy dog who cries, yelps and howls when we put him into a little room for bedtime or outside (cos he'll be an outside dog) I reckon you should leave him for the same amount of time at the same time so he can get into routine. If you're doing it at wrong different times he won't learn and will be silly and crying all the time cos he won't understand it's the time for you to leave.
 
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