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At what age did you begin to allow your dog to stay at home outside of the crate for short periods of time? How did you do this?I would like to leave the 4 month old puppy for 5 or 10 minutes while I get my son from the bus stop. He's never been left alone at home outside of his crate ever. Not sure when the right time would be. He goes to the door to let us know when he needs to go out to the bathroom. I would be sure he went to the bathroom before I left the house and would be sure the house was safe for him to stay alone.
 

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Until a) your dog is 100% reliably housebroken and hasn't had an accident or attempted accident in months and b) it's been months since you had to tell your dog to stop getting into something he shouldn't, it's too early. We didn't start doing this until Biscuit was over 1 year, and we still crate her for longer periods of time at 16 months. I think leaving a 4 month old puppy out is just asking for problems.
 

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Along with the potty training concern of being outside of the crate for periods of time - a bigger risk is the chewing/getting into things he shouldn't. At 4 months old teething is beginning/already underway so anything left within his reach is fair game for being chewed on as well as things like wires/cables, plants, wooden furniture controllers, dvd and dvd cases, walls etc.

Having said that - I didn't reintroduce a crate to my girl until she was about 6-8 months old (she ripped four of her baby teeth out on the crate at 11 weeks for the 15 minutes she was in it). From 10 weeks she's had free roam of the house. The difference in why I was able to do that is because I'm home 24/7 and she was never out of my sight. She was house trained by 5 months old. The reintroduction of the crate was for her safety if something should ever happen where she'd have to be crated for extended periods of time.
 

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I think 4 months is a bit young yet. Niraya's right about the chewing. Also, if your pup got nervous about being alone outside the crate he may behave differently than normal, like chewing or destroying something just because he's anxious, or peeing because he's anxious (even if you make sure he goes before you leave).
I'd wait a bit, so he's a bit more mature ( :) ) and able to deal with it.
 

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At almost five months we have very, slightly introduced this idea by moving Hamilton's ex-pen to the carpet in the family room (vs. the kitchen floor). He is crated overnight, and in his pen during the day when we're at work (with a mid-day break). It's been two weeks and so far no peeing on the carpet! For us, he'll be allowed roam when he stops getting into things (HAHAHA so maybe never), is very VERY reliably housebroken (we're at 2 wks no accidents! But I'm thinking like 6 mos no accidents), and he leaves the cats the heck alone.
 

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Puppy proof the house as best you can.
Wait till the puppy seems to understand the basics.
Then
Short times being left alone... while you are still in the house ..and not in the same room.
Short times being left alone...when you are outside the house.
Then an open crate at night while you sleep..
Then an open crate when you go to work.
Then eventually no crate at all...
It all depends on the individual dog and its maturity and how well you communicate with your dog.
 
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