crate or leave dog in yard?
Our mixed-breed GSD Sadie is 10 months old. We adopted her at 3 mos from a shelter. Since then, she has been crate-trained and crated whenever we are not home, and usually at night, although we sometimes let her sleep outside of the crate if we sleep downstairs.
When we are home, she has free-reign of most of the downstairs area, but doesn't go upstairs anymore since she sheds like a crazy beast and it's just too much house to vacuum and dust for fur every day. Although she is good and never torn anything up in the house, she is not left free when we are not there because my BF has too much expensive home theater equipment that we can't risk getting chewed. She is only 41 lbs, but has the biggest crate I could find - one that could accommodate a full size GSD - plenty of room to move around, play with toys, and have her water dish.
She enjoys playing outside and chasing squirrels, but tends to only stay out there 30 min -1.5 hours before she is ready to come in, if we are not out there with her.
She has mild separation anxiety and cries, howls, and barks, for short time when we leave sometimes. She doesn't cry when she goes in the crate at night, and doesn't cry when we put her in there before we leave (she also gets Kongs whenever she goes in), she doesn't freak out to be let out the crate whenever get home, but she DOES cry once we walk out the door.
She is crated for the work day 2-3 days a week. She goes to doggie playcare 2 days a week, and we are home more on the other days.
We hate that she is so sad when we leave. I usually crate her before I leave in the mornings, and my BF leaves shortly after I do, and she just gives him the saddest face - won't even look at him sometimes.
We have a large, fenced in backyard with a 6foot fence. We live in TX, and now that it's Fall and cooling down some, we are considering leaving her outside for short periods on the weekends when we are out to see how she does so she won't be so upset to be left alone. We hope that can progress to longer periods to where she can stay outside in nice weather while we are at work and terrorize the squirrels so she is not bored and lonely.
I just have concerns that she may try to escape if she knows we're gone or hears something on the other side of the fence and is left alone for a long period. Like many GSDs, she has had some digestive issues, so I am a bit concerned she may eat something that doesn't agree with her, too.
All of our neighbors leave their dogs outside, but they are older and she is still a pup. She's pretty calm and laid back, but she's not used to being left out there for that long and I'm just worried, but I want her to be entertained when we are not there. Even if she was left in the house uncrated, she'd be staring out the window at the squirrels and birds and be wanting to get out (like she often does when we are home).
Am I being too overprotective and neurotic about this? While the crate is the safer option, I want her to be happy and not bored and lonely when we're gone.