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Canine Library: General

Mistaken Freedom

Dogs need to be let loose in the house room by room.

Some dog owners experience wall-to-wall destruction when the dog suffering from separation anxiety is given freedom to roam the house. A toddler or young child isn't allowed this freedom because it would be dangerous and frightening. Dogs also need mental maturity (regardless of their chronological age) to cope with the stress of so-called freedom.

Whenever you alter a dog's routine, the dog must be weaned slowly and gently toward your goal. If you want to start giving a crate-trained dog access to the house while you're away, start slowly. Give the dog access to only one room, and leave the crate door open so it can go to that familiar, secure den. Leave the house, but return in 10 minutes. In a few minutes, depart again and return in 20 minutes. Next time make it five minutes, then 30, and so forth. Alternate the lengths of your arrivals and departures, and continue throughout the day. Repeat the scenario for as many days or weeks as necessary.

Keep your comings and goings casual, especially your departures. If there's a setback, don't punish, just go back to shorter periods of time. If you will be out of the house for a longer time than you've practiced, put the dog in its crate. When it seems comfortable and reliable left in one room, open up another. Don't rush it.

Author(s): McLennan, Bardi
Publication: Dog Fancy
Issue Date: January 1993

Canine Library: General