Why You Should Limit Your Puppy’s Freedom
One of the hardest things for many new puppy owners is limiting their puppy’s freedom both inside and outside the house. Freedom is a term we use loosely – to describe limited puppy’s opportunity to get into trouble and exposure to dangerous problems. Young puppies tend to stay close to their people so it’s sometimes hard to see the need to restrict the puppy’s movements.
Unfortunately, dangers abound; puppies have no idea what is safe for them and can get into or play with hazardous items. Even owners with the best of intentions cannot watch a puppy all the time. Like a human toddler, it only takes moments for a puppy to get into trouble.
Puppy Restrictions in the House
When I’m raising a puppy of my own, I limit the puppy’s freedom in the house until he’s about 18 months of age. The actual age can vary, though; depending on how well the individual puppy is doing with his training and how quickly (or slowly) he’s maturing mentally. A number of years ago one of my dogs, Riker, was slow to mature and had restricted access to the house until he was about two years old. He wasn’t bad; he was just a silly puppy for a long time.
A puppy’s freedom to wander can be limited in several ways:
- Crate: These metal or wood dog-safe enclosures make a great bed and by having your puppy sleep in his crate, he can develop bowel and bladder control which will help housetraining efforts. Sleeping in the crate also means he will be unable to chew on stuff, chase the family cat, raid trash cans, and jump on your bed while you’re sleeping. Do not confine the puppy to the crate all night and again all day though; that’s too much.
- Exercise Pen: This is a foldable, moveable fence designed to confine your puppy in various places. You can set a pen up in your home office while you’re working so your puppy can be close to you without getting into trouble, or move it to the family room while everyone is there. Think of it as a play pen for puppies.
- Baby Gates: I consider these great tools for raising a puppy. A baby gate can keep the puppy in one room with you while closing off access to the hall or other rooms.
- Leash: With a leash attached to your puppy and the other end tucked into your waistband or pocket, your puppy is prevented from getting into trouble while moving around the house with you.
The goal of restricting your puppy’s freedom in the house is to prevent him from getting into trouble while he learns what he can play with and where he’s allowed to play. By teaching him not to chew your shoes or raid the trash cans, you are making sure those potentially self-rewarding activities don’t turn into bad habits.
These tips can really help with house training.
Puppy Restrictions Outside
Limiting your puppy’s freedom outside serves the same purpose as doing so inside the house. You want to keep your puppy safe and prevent him from developing bad habits.
Ideally you should have a safe place for your puppy outside. He doesn’t necessarily need the entire back yard, especially as a young puppy, but a temporarily fenced-off area with shade, water, and some toys would be great.
Make sure the fence is secure and there are no gaps he could crawl through or get stuck in, especially around the gate. Put away lawn tools, kids’ toys, spa stuff, and anything else that might be attractive or dangerous for the puppy.
Keep your puppy on leash when outside of the fenced-in area. Not only do most cities and town have leash laws, but using a leash is the best way to prevent your puppy from getting into trouble and to teach him what is allowed and what isn’t.
Be Patient with Your Puppy?
You can gradually allow your puppy more freedom as he grows up and matures mentally and physically, and as you continue to teach him the rules of living with your family. Just keep in mind that the stage of development after puppyhood is adolescence and you’re not going to want to allow too much freedom then, either. Teenagers need supervision, not freedom.
Be patient with your puppy. In time he will grow up and with your help will become an awesome friend and companion.
I hope these tips help keep your puppy out of trouble and well trained.