Weaning Your Dog Off the Crate
Crate training is an excellent way to train your dog. But the point of the crate is not for your dog to live there forever. We all want to have our dogs apart of our family, but that needs to be done at the proper time for the sake of your dog and out of concern of keeping your home clean and intact. Please know, all dogs are truly different! What works for one, may not work for another. And sometimes weaning your dog off the crate can either be easy and natural or a little more tricky. Crate training is indispensable in helping with housebreaking your puppy and preventing destructive behaviors; so when it is time to give your dog more freedom, here are some hints to make it easy and be fully prepared:
Know your Dog
All dogs are different. You know your dog. If your dog is like most, he loves his crate. It’s his den, bed and ultimate safe place. When its time, some dogs can wean off the crate fairly early and easily adjust to following household rules. Most dogs are ready for this around the 6-9 month mark. While others are naturally more curious or simply not ready to be left uncrated until they are a bit older (2-3 years). If your dog is overly curious and likes to get into things, crating can keep you dog safe and out of trouble. Also, until your dog is fully housebroken, it is wise to continue use of their crate. If you are ready to trust your dog to behave in your absence, it may be the right time to start the transition away from the crate.
Take It Slow
Even if you are confident in your dogs ability to handle their newly acquired freedom, you still need to take the process slow. Do not suddenly remove the crate and let your dog roam freely around your house for several hours. Your dog is used to being crated, and this sudden freedom could make him nervous. While we think of the crate as confinement, your dog considers their crate as a den and safe haven.
Rather than giving your dog the run of your whole house, designate an area where your dogs can be confined with a gate or door. Clear the room of any items you want to protect and anything that could harm your dog. Start by leaving your dog alone in this area for hour increments. Gradually increase the time he is left alone based on how he does. As your dog gets used to his freedom, you can gradually allow him access to other areas of the house.
What your dog appreciates and likes about their crate is the comfort that it provides. So give that to them another way. The biggest way that you can do this is by being near. They love you and just want to be apart of your world and family. One way to do this is by designating a dog bed or personal space to allow them security. Another way, is you can give your dog a treat stuffed toy or security item. But in the end, you’re their best friend…they’ll be okay without their crate as long as they have you!