Since getting Betsy, we’ve been very very strict with her unsupervised time. At first, unless we were directly interacting with her, she was in her crate. As she got a bit older, we allowed her to wander as long as she was in our line of vision and we weren’t distracted cooking dinner or something.
About two months ago, we started cautiously allowing her to stay in the living room while we cooked dinner in the kitchen. It was pulled off without any issues, so, recently, just shy of 6 months of age, we’ve given her two more freedoms:
- Allowing her to sleep on her dog bed at night instead of in her crate.
- Allowing her to be unsupervised when we not able to check in on her for long-ish periods of time, such as when we’re showering or when I leave for work and Ben is still in bed.
Hopefully she doesn’t ruin it all by chewing on something naughty! She is pretty good – has never touched any wires and hasn’t touched any furniture since her first week with us, but she does really love to steal socks out of the laundry and try to entice us into a game of chase. Plus, I believe she will soon enter her second chewing phase, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we had to move back to the crate temporarily, but at least it’s a start!
She’s still crated while we’re out of the house, by the way, and I don’t think that’s a freedom she will earn until she’s well out of puppy-hood, maybe three or four years old. Too much potential damage can be done!
As a side note, I was pleasantly surprised by how well she took to sleeping out of her crate. She flops down on her dog bed and will stay in the exact same position from 10pm until whenever we wake up – which is usually 6 or 7am, but one morning I slept in until nine and woke up to her sitting calmly on her bed, just staring at me, like she knew the day couldn’t begin until I woke up, and was too polite to try and wake me up early.
These are the main criteria we used for each graduation period – always the same questions, but you never know, with more freedom the answer could be different.
- Is she having house training accidents?
- Does she ever chew on naughty things in front of us?
- Has she chewed on naughty things when we weren’t carefully watching her?