Dixie has been sleeping in a crate since we got her in May 2017. She doesn’t mind it. We do let her sleep with us in bed on weekends or when we don’t need a good night’s sleep or don’t need to be up super early in the morning. While she doesn’t mind using a crate you can tell she prefers sleeping in our bed. If she even thinks it might be bedtime she prances down to our bedroom and hops in bed. So when is the right time to ditch the crate?
All of our dogs have liked being in crates. They found them to be safe spaces that they could retreat to whenever they needed. So we’ve never felt bad about having them in crates when we aren’t around, at least for the first year or so.
We don’t let Dixie sleep with us every night because if we move she tends to think it’s go time! Then she is ready to get up and start doing stuff.
Another reason we don’t let her sleep with us all the time is because she is a pest to Caesar. Dixie is about 50 pounds but she can take up the space of a horse. She likes to get in bed before Caesar and crowd him out. If he’s getting petted she will force her way between him and you to get attention. Pesky little sister.
When we first started letting her sleep with us, we’d put a gate in front of the door so that if she got out of bed she’d be confined to our room. We didn’t want to be forced to get out of bed and follow her to see if she’d get into anything so we made her stay in our room even if she wasn’t in our bed.
Now that we’ve gotten more comfortable with her and her with us, we haven’t been putting the gate up. I don’t even think this was a conscious effort. I think we probably just forget to put up the gate and it worked out so we tried it again. And it worked. And so on and so forth.
Most nights she stays in bed with us. But the last few nights she’s taken advantage of the gate being down by sleeping in the living room with Caesar.
Caesar is always allowed to sleep in bed with us. He has been for the last six years. When we lost Rebel, all rules about letting the dog(s) in bed went out the window.
Sometimes Caesar doesn’t want to sleep in bed though. This has happened a couple times in the last couple weeks. Sometimes Caesar will sleep in the living room next to Dixie’s crate. Awww! Cute! I know. It’s adorable. Other times I think he isn’t feeling well and just wants to be left alone. On those nights he’ll sleep on the couch or in Carter’s office. Still other times I think he just wants to be away from Dixie if she’s in bed with us. She has this “I will not be ignored” attitude at times that makes Caesar want to ignore her.
So this past week when Caesar hopped out of bed and chose to sleep in the living room Dixie followed him. She looks to him for a lot of things. I don’t think she knows why she does some things. She just sees Caesar doing something and that is good enough for her.
Nothing was ruined by letting her sleep where she wanted. To be fair I’ve gotten pretty good about not leaving tempting things lying around for her to get into. Except in the bedroom. I have lots of shoes and socks on the floor that could be appealing to her but thankfully aren’t.
I didn’t expect anything to be ruined but sometimes when you get more than one dog in an unsupervised room together chaos can ensue. Two dogs who individually are well behaved can become very naughty when left unattended. It’s like they share a brain. And keep trying to impress the other one with how naughty they can be. It’s funny if you’re watching it. But when you aren’t and can’t redirect their attention you just never know what they will get into.
What I’m saying is that as much as I trust my dogs I don’t really trust my dogs. They are after all, dogs. They have their own minds. And sometimes they do things you wouldn’t expect them to do.
They can’t explain themselves so you never know why they do what they do. You’re just left with the aftermath and trying to figure out what possibly could have gone through their head.
Dixie is four. She’s been with us for seven months. But that in no way means we know her. There are almost four years that are unaccounted for. We don’t know what she experienced. Was she abused? Neglected? We will never know.
On New Year’s Eve our friends that were over told us multiple stories about Pit Bulls that turned on their owners. I just read a story today which may have been what our friends were talking about, although it didn’t specify if the dog was a Pit Bull.
It was a woman who had a rescue dog that had been with her for eight years and the dog attacked her while they were sitting on the couch together.
Both of our dogs are rescues and we think they’re both part Pit Bull. I would never expect either of our dogs to attack us. But neither did this woman. My point is that I don’t think you can ever truly trust a dog 100% of the time. Especially if you don’t know their past.
Still we put a lot of trust in our dogs. We’ve tested them previously by leaving Dixie out of her crate while we went to pick up food, which was only about 30 minutes. We came home and everything seemed fine. She passed!
And today I left her out while I ran to an appointment and Carter was on his way home from one. Again, this was only 30 minutes but you have to start somewhere. And she passed.
We’ll experiment with leaving her out for longer periods of time and see how it goes. If it gets to be problematic we’ll rethink how we’re doing things and come up with a new plan.
Unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule about when a dog is ready to ditch their crate. It has to be done by experimentation. Also peps talks seem to help. Who doesn’t like a pep talk?!
Every time I leave the house I give my dogs a pep talk. Just me? This is probably more for me since I love staying at home as much as possible so I have to psych/e myself up to leave. But I like to think that I’m leaving them with important and useful information that they will carry with them throughout their lives. I’m a dog motivational speaker.