You feel like your dogs crate training has been going very well. You’re starting to wonder when you’ll be able to leave him out of the crate while you’re gone.
If you can answer yes to the following three things, you should be ready to start.
1) Is your dog an adult? Smaller dogs are considered adults sooner than larger breeds. Look into what age your dog is considered an adult.
2) Is your dog completely housebroken?
This means that he no longer has any accidents in the house.
3) Does your dog try to chew on anything other than his chew toys? In other words, do you trust that he won’t destroy anything once you’re gone?
Here are a few things you can do to gradually introduce him to his new unsupervised freedom.
Step 1 – Move his dog crate into a room with its door open. Bring your dog to this room. Give him a couple toys to occupy his time and a treat as you leave. Start with leaving him in there for 10 minutes. Try not to make any noise during this time. Sounds outside the room could cause him to bark or scratch at the door. Once the time is up, enter the room and give him a warm greeting. If he behaved well during this time give him another treat. If you are seeing that he’s comfortable and enjoying his time in the room, you can slowly increase the time. Once you reach a few hours, you should be able to start the next step.
Step 2 – Follow everything you did in Step 1 but increase his confinement area. For example, you could restrict him to half of your living space.
Step 3 – This is what you’ve been working up to. Continue what you’ve been doing in the previous steps but this time you are leaving him alone in the house.
Gradually work up to longer times until you reach the amount of time you’re usually away from home.
Note: If you come home to an accident or destructive behavior, take steps back in your training.
Also, remember that your dogs crate is his sanctuary and you should always keep his open crate available.