Graduating your dog to house freedom
PetSmart Debbie McKnight, Accredited PetSmart Trainer
- Ideally, your dog should be past the puppy and juvenile stage. For small dogs, this probably occurs at 1-1/2 to 2 years of age. For larger dogs, they may still be an “adolescent” up until 2 to 2-1/2 years of age. In addition, you should have managed your puppy carefully so he knows what items are his to play with, which furniture he is allowed on (or not), and what is off limits.
- Set him up to succeed! Pick up everything on the floors (like shoes), remove everything from the counter tops (we don’t want to tempt him), make sure your trash is secured, and shut all the doors to the extra rooms (and toilet paper!)
- Make sure your dog is exercised before you leave. Watch to make sure he relieves himself before you leave. You should also take him for a walk or play a game of fetch so you don’t leave him with pent up energy.
- Leave him with fun toys to play with. A food-stuffed Kong is always a great choice. Many people pack their Kong with something extra special that the dog only gets when they leave.
- The first few times you’re gone should be very short. Just run down the street to the convenience store or out for ice cream. You don’t want to leave him alone long enough to get bored.
- As he gets used to you being gone for short amounts of time, gradually extend it. Remember, you can always use the crate for part of the day and leave him loose the rest of the time.
- Use baby gates and closed doors to limit his freedom in the house. As you see that he can handle the freedom, you can gradually allow him access to more of the house.