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I've read that the best way to transition dogs out of daily crating is to gradually increase freedom, adding time slowly as they prove their trustworthiness - makes perfect sense. But, how do you know when to take that first step?

My pup is 10 months old, is perfectly happy in her crate, but I'd like her to have a little more room to move around during the day. She's never shown any interest in playing with or chewing on anything that wasn't one of her toys, she seems to be house trained, and is generally fairly calm in the house. I think I may have more difficulty with the transition than she will :)

Thanks!
 

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Here's what we did:
- Our puppies were crated when they were very young.
- At about 4-5 months (if I remember correctly) we transitioned to an ex-pen in a corner of the kitchen.
- At about 6-7 months, we started using the entire kitchen, blocked off with a baby gate.
- At about a year, we started to try leaving them out in the kitchen, living room, and hallway (no access to bedrooms) for SHORT trips, 30 minutes to an hour or so, when we just had to run to the store or something, or go have dinner. The only destruction we ran into was if one of us forgot and left the bathroom door open (they LOVE tissues) or left shoes out (Abby LOVES shoes).
Eventually, we'd try a day or two during the work week. Everything and everyone survived, so now they have free roaming except for the bedrooms.
 

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Thanks. Ironically, after 5 months of near perfect behavior she tore apart the foam pad in her crate today. Guess she'll be in her crate for a little bit longer. :(
 

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Esther and Molly were confined to a spacious, but rather spartan, "dog room" for quite a while before they had the run of the house. They were bored to tears and nothing could be left in there with them.

So it was with considerable trepidation that we unleashed them, in a single step, to have the run of the place.

Except for a few incidents involving shredded magazines or shoes, which should not have been on the floor in the first place, there have been no problems. They have windows to look out of and sun to follow. I'm quite sure they spend the day trying to decide where to sleep next. They have each other for company, but there is no reason to suppose they actually play. They generally save that for an audience.
 

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We also had a pretty plain area for the dogs, and now they have free range. They had a GREAT time with 4 pairs of flip-flops, but each time that was our fault. They still try to get us to leave our flip=flops low, but we have high storage now!
 
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