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Deciding when your dog is ready to be left out of the crate can be tough. Here are some guidelines to follow.

Deciding when your dog is ready to be left out of the crate can be tough. Here are some guidelines to follow.

Many pet owners start to use a crate when they bring home a puppy for housetraining purposes, and preparing your home for a puppy to run around in takes a bit of work. Nayiri Krikorian is a professional trainer with Zen Dog Training, and a member of the Harry's Picks Advisory Panel. If you think your dog might be ready, Krikorian recommends being proactive by rolling up and storing your rugs and purchasing some enzymatic cleaner in case of any accidents.

After that, Krikorian suggests a few steps to puppy proofing your home:

1.  Get down on the ground and identify anything in your room that might be a particularly tantalizing chew "toy”. What about all the cords connected to your television? Take a look the magazines on your coffee table, not to mention the coffee table itself. Are your sofa cushions safe? If you can remove some of these items from the room, then do so temporarily.

2. If you are worried about your puppy chewing furniture, you can spray the surfaces with a chew deterrent, like Bitter Apple.

3. Create a containment area using baby gates or an exercise pen. Inside should be her crate, with its door open so she can relax there and snooze inside if she pleases, some toys and maybe a water bowl and food dish. By including her crate inside the containment area, you’re basically expanding her feelings about her crate, comfort, cleanliness and security into the new space. After you have your confinement area, start teaching your dog to treat the space the same way she treats her crate. Start off small; have her new “room” be only slightly larger than her crate. If she's successful in there (meaning a few consecutive days free of accidents or destructive behaviors) gradually increase her square footage.

With a little patience, time and training soon your dog will have free reign of your home without having accidents or tearing apart your possessions.

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Tags: dog behavior , dog care

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