@aiw: whoops, I cited the wrong number; I meant #4 -- talking to, looking at, touching the dog before leaving -- when I asked if you didn't think 10 minutes would do as well as 20. Agree totally that a long down/stay should be possible (worked up to gradually, as you said). To crate or not to crate has varied from dog to dog in my experience. All of my dogs are rescues from shelters (except for the one was picked up from the middle of an intersection and another who was handed to me by a little boy who found her), and they have mostly been 1 -2 years old when they came home; I never know in advance who is going to do well crated (in my absence) and who won't. My last German Shepherd was extremely anxious about being confined, so in pretty short order I decided to just give it a go and let him have the run of the house when I left: he did just great. The dog I have at present is definitely a Velcro Boy, who sticks to my side and scratches at the front door if I so much as run out to the car for a minute. Fortunately, he kennels up willingly (the kennels are in the kitchen) and is quite calm when he's in there. I take the dogs out before I get ready to go somewhere and when we come back in, I always say, "Okay, boys, I've got to get my shower": my German Shepherd immediately runs into his kennel (I usually have to tell the little grey dog to kennel up). That's it for contact until I go out the front door, when I sometimes say, "Guard the house!" When I come home I put my keys and stuff away, get changed if I need to, and then let them out of their kennels to be walked and played with. You sound like a great dog owner, aiw!