Kodee will be one in a week, and this week, I started using our kitchen as his "crate", by placing a baby gate up in the doorway. He is crate-trained, which I started doing when I got him at 7 weeks old. He has always done great with the crate, and now that he's housebroken and starting to settle down a little bit as he gets older, I've gone from using his crate a lot, to almost not at all. He has been sleeping in my room on a tether at night - no crate at night, and only was crated during the day if I couldn't watch him with my 3 young kids (in the living room), or at our mealtimes. Now he's not even tethered at night, as he sleeps in my room without bothering anything. During the day, if I can't watch him with the kids, instead of the crate, I put him in the kitchen with the gate up, while the kids have the run of the rest of the house. He can lay by the gate and see/hear stuff without interacting with my kids. I am very vigilant about him and the kids - NO interaction at all unsupervised with my youngest 2 (2 and 5 years old), and very little with my oldest (7 years).
He does fine in the kitchen as long as I keep the food put away, and the trashcan out of reach.
When I was a kid, we had a housedog that never had a crate, and it worked fine. I have already put Kodee's crate away, as he has been very good when we're not home, just laying around in the kitchen, playing with his toy or sleeping.
My question is - is there any reason that I should keep using the crate? I probably will get it out every once in a while just to keep him used to it, in case we have to travel and he has to be crated somewhere, but other than that, are there any other reasons to use a crate, if he does fine without it at home?
(FYI-He's strictly a house dog - never outdoors without a leash or drag line (we live just outside of town on 15 acres - no fence/busy road). He gets his exercise out back with me, playing frisbee, ball, etc on a drag line. I also take him to the park (5 min drive) for long walks. Point being - he's a housedog who does get exercised sufficiently. Don't know if this is relevant, but just to give you more info to base your answers on.
Well, I've been taking into consideration of taking Emma (she'll be 1 on july 11th) out of the crate too, as she too has calmed down some. In my opinion, if he is doing well with not using the crate, then I'd say you're doing the right things!
Mine "graduate" out of the crate. Usually I start giving them a little freedom at about 1 year old. If they mess up (chew something while I'm gone) then I know they aren't ready and they go back into the crate for a couple more months and then we try again.
Currently I've got 2 who don't use crates at all, and one pup in a crate.
OK, that makes me feel better, as that's sort of what's been done w/Kodee. He'll be one in a few days, and he's been gradually spending less time in the crate since he's been housebroken, and I've worked hard on getting him to understand that he is not to bother the kids. I don't trust him 100%, mainly just b/c I err on the side of caution, and my kids are still so young, and he's got 20 pounds on the oldest one. Better safe than sorry.
But, he's done very well, and the kitchen has sort of become his "crate" over the last couple of months. So far, so good!
Yes, the crate was only temporary but they were left up for years. Used the crates at obedience trials and the dogs liked having their own space. That's an understatement. The youngest would practically drag me to her crate when we would first enter the area! I also took them when I visited people. They were a good back up for things like "alone with cats" or "thou shalt not trip fragile humans" -- But around the house, the crates were kept open but the dogs were very rarely "crated."
Our Sasha has had relative freedom of the house since she was about (?) 7 months old. She's a good dog.
But we've always left it up, and she definitely likes having her own space. She goes in for naps, etc.
I think we'll always have one and leave it up, because I think its important that they're able to be crated without it stressing them out. They're going to have to be often enough - vet, travel, boarding, training, that its nice to have it be safe/fun space instead of punishment.
We've been especially glad that the crate is still around since our puppy recently hurt her leg and has had to be crated to restrict her movement. She's not thrilled about it, but its not the big deal it would be if she hadn't seen a crate in a year.
I have seven crates set up in my sun room where the dogs eat and sleep and one set up in my room. I rarely shut the gate of the one that is in my room.
My dogs take turns being in the house. Right now Babsy is in more than the others as she is pregnant and getting special treatment. She is also not shedding and obviously not in heat. When they are shedding bad or in heat, they do not generally get to come into the rest of the house. The sun room is open to the living room and to the hallway just outside my bedroom door and separated from the house by baby gates only.
At night, with whichever one I have in, I put the baby gate up at night in the hallway between my bedroom and the living room. The lucky dog gets to have the run of the bedroom/hall. Mostly I start this when they are between three and four months old. I expect to lose one prized possession with every dog and no one has disappointed me yet. Generally, if I cannot live without it, or if it will hurt the pup, it is beyond their reach. Usually, well before a year, they are solid in the bedroom.
The rest of house is a little different. My kennel dogs make a bee-line to the garbage can, though a quick eh-eh freezes them. They do not generally eat with me. Occasionally, I will watch tv with one or use my computer with one. But if I have them in the study, I put the baby gate up so that I can keep them close to me and be aware of them.
Should you abandon the crate? If you do not need it, then there is no reason for it to be set up, though mine will go in the crate on their own, and they are dead useful. If they travel in a crate, that should be sufficient to keep them used to it enough in case they need to travel, be boarded, or need a sleep over at the vet. Keeping the crate handy will allow you to restrict movement if the dog ever needs surgery.
None of the Hooligans are crated or locked up while I'm home, but they have access to several open crates which they still use for naps. I crate Bruiser when I'm gone only because I don't have any place to put him. He's crated in the "dog" bedroom and Mac is loose in there with an open crate. Honey has the run of the house except for the bedrooms. Kelly and Slider share my bedroom. The small bedroom isn't used for anything except storing stuff.
I rarely "crate" my adults, as in, put them in and close the door. But they love having their "Boardrooms" where they get peace and quiet. When they're in their crates, no one bothers them. (Dh and I actively enforce this rule). Sure, crates aren't very attractive as interior decor, but I like giving them the option to just opt-out for a while. And they use it. Camper sleeps in his crate almost every night.
(We call crates their "Boardrooms" because they just hang out inside, think, strategieze, etc, while the staff run the household for them.)
I guess it probably just depends. If your pup never uses it on his own, then you probably don't need to keep it around the house, but if he likes it, you may want to keep it out for him.
But, it's a good idea to hold on to it somewhere. In an emergency, you'll definitely want it, and you'll want it easily accessible.
Riggs gets one because of his bowel issues. If he has an accident while we're gone I want to limit the diaster zone but not cause him to be stuck in it. The x-pen is perfect for that.
The Cocker and the Chinese Crested are both opportunists and what they consider edible aren't always the things I think of and try to put out of reach. Like the time the Cocker broke into my suitcase, chewed open a couple prescription bottles and ingested several anti-depressants and blood thinners.
So the x-pens give them more room to move around than a crate and yet keep them safe.
And they have the added benefit of being much easier to move around or close up and put away AND they come in very handy on the road!
In fact, once our basement is cleared out I plan to put 'dog runs' down there for the gang when we aren't home. Riggs will get a double-sized x-pen and the other three will share a double-sized one. And I'll have an extra one (or two) for fosters!
And finally, x-pens are cheaper! I can get a 42" tall x-pen, with 8 two foot wide panels for $35. If I set that up as a square it's 4' x 4' of space for the dog. A 42" crate (which is 42" x 28 " x 31") is around $58 (that's with two doors).
Gracie "graduated" from the crate at about 9 months. We left the crate up for her, but she preferred to sleep on her cushion beside my side of the bed at night and/or another dog cushion in the living room during the day. Once she got to 18 months, we finally took the crate away, as it was taking up too much room and she never bothered with it. That being said, she's been very good, doesn't chew things (has outgrown the fascination with the toilet paper on a roll, does not counter surf or get into things. Mind you, we do not have any little kids at home, so I think it's easier for us.
I love x-pens too. I use them for puppies. I use them in my kennels if I need to separate a few for a short time. I use them to separate the sections of my back yard I do not want the dogs in. I have one cutting my sun room in half so I can have crates for five bitches and a dog in one side and the whelping box, a cot and a crate in the other side.
The only thing is they only come four foot high. Some of my bitches I trust not to go over it to get another. Others I do not, so I would not leave them with nothing but an uncovered x-pen between them. I do have a lid and floor four my three foot one and I put that around the doggy door and it works great as an extra crate.
One thing Kodee has never done (and he's had tons of opportunity), is go into his crate and lay down, unless I've told him to. When he wasn't crated, the door to the crate was always open, and the only thing he's ever willingly went into the crate for (without a command from me), is to get a toy, and bring it right back out of the crate. So I guess as long as he behaves like he has been, our crate days are probably over, for the most part. I'll keep it, though, just in case, and I'll probably crate him every once in a great while when we're gone, just so he stays accustomed to it.