When we got Rack, we decided he’d have a crate to sleep in. Off the Couch, Off the Bed, Off the Furniture.
Rack is a rescue dog. We got him April 21, 2013 from the Dog Liberator. While his story before he got to Giselle was frightening, she had him long enough that we all knew he’d start to open up and grow into a fascinating character. He was only there for 11 days, so there was only so much that Giselle could have known about his personality.
Since he was shut down, it was easier to set some hard and fast boundaries. The first night or three he slept in the crate in the living room with the crate door closed.
That stopped when he started getting lonely and whined overnight. My having a rough sleep even through the earplugs meant I had to figure something out.
The crate went into the master bedroom, sitting on top of a blanket to muffle some of the sounds from tossing and turning.
His, not mine.
The crate door would be kept closed and he’d be able to see me sleep on the bed.
When he started to come out of the crate willingly, I decided that I’d try to have him sleep with the door closed on the bedroom and the crate door would be left open. The room would be blocked off so he had about 1/3 of the room to roam in.
Rack liked that, and that was how we slept for the next two months.
He’s still exploring the house during the day, but he tends to retreat to the crate when something scary happens like the trash trucks stopping by twice a week. Noises are a trigger for him to go hide, which is common for many puppies and dogs who have been through the trauma of being turned in to a shelter at an early age.
Last night that changed. I forgot to close the bedroom door.
Blissfully ignorant, I slept the night. So did Rack. Sure, he had wandered through the house but didn’t find anything of ours that he needed to chew on. With cables to the electronics somewhat badly hidden under furniture, and boxes for recycling in the kitchen, he had plenty of opportunity for mischief.
But nothing happened. I woke up to an open door and realized he had the chance to be out and about, but the only thing I found torn up was his toy that he has been disemboweling when he needed to play.
Other than being greeted by bits of polyester fluff, nothing happened.
He does take the opportunity to “find things” from time to time, and we do have to keep an ear open to make sure that he doesn’t go up onto the bed, but for the most part, he’s very close to being ready. There are plenty of things around the house that probably should be picked up, thrown away, or put to better use, but for the most part, he ignores them.
Another behavior to watch for in this case is “Where The Dog Sleeps”.
In Rack’s case, it is basically anywhere and everywhere. Dogs will not relieve themselves where they sleep. If they sleep everywhere, you will have less of a chance of an errant marking of territory. Territory markings and little piles are the other main problem you can have with an inexperienced dog on their first night out on the house. I have found Rack sleeping next to the back door where he nodded off while watching the back yard. He’s curled up against the front door in the living room, under the dining room table, in the kitchen…
You get the picture.
A dog that has one place and one only to nap in will be more likely to wander to the most distant part of the house and “Use The Tree”, even if housebroken.
In our case, we got off lucky. I’m not planning on leaving that bedroom door open tonight. I’m not
completely confident that I won’t wake up to something of mine shredded, even though he has plenty of toys. On the other hand his pet frog toy ended up placed very nicely inside of my shoe this morning as an offering.
We’re not there yet, but I think I can see the exit ramp down the road a piece. Now, if I could just get him to stop waking me up at 5:15AM every morning…