Crate training | dog separation anxiety | puppy spending time alone

What if I don't want to crate train my puppy? 

Dog crating alternatives or how to confine a dog without a crate

Some owners hesitate to use a crate. Some still think of it as a jail for their pet, while others simply cannot find a good spot for it at home. Some people don't like the way a crate looks as it is usually not the most beautiful piece of the interior.

Whatever your reason not to use a crate is, there are some alternatives.

In general, we use crates to keep our dogs (especially puppies) safe from chewing cables, swallowing something that they are not supposed to eat and to teach them their timetable and accepted areas to urinate and defecate. Also, a crate serves as a safe shelter for a puppy or a dog to hide and relax when needed. A crate makes the training and relaxing processes smoother, as it provides a safe space and reduces the possibility to chew something dangerous. If you don't want to use a crate, consider creating a safe space somewhere else for your pup.

Lots of owners decide to use their bathroom as an alternative to a crate. However, we advise against that, as bathrooms tend to have unnatural smells (which we do not perceive as strongly as our dogs do). Also, there might be cleaners, soap, shampoos, and other substances which may be easily swallowed or at least tasted by a young pup. Instead of using a bathroom as a safe space for your pet, consider using a corridor or a space between bigger items of furniture, such as sofas and wardrobes.

When creating a safe space for your dog, be sure to cover or remove everything she might chew. Hide all cables, carpets, cover legs of sofa and table, etc. To make sure your pup won't chew up anything, let her in the safe space and see how she reacts. Usually, puppies start chewing anything they are interested in during the first 30 mins of being in the designated area. 

Be creative. Use baby gates, puppy playpens, big cardboard boxes, clothes dryer, etc. It depends on the space you use. Make sure your puppy cannot get stuck anywhere and she won't be able to go out of the safe space.

We do not recommend using any carpets, towels, or dog beds inside, as young puppies tend to chew them or urinate on them. A puppy doesn't need a cozy bed to sleep comfortably (except for hairless breeds).

Also, it's not recommended to use a leash to restrict your dog's access to any space in your home, as she might get tangled and injured. It's advisable to take off her collar also or use so-called home-collars, which are only used to keep an ID tag on your puppy's neck. This type of collar breaks off easily if your pup gets stuck somewhere, but at the same time provides the most important contact information if your dog ever runs away from home.

When your puppy has already lived through the teething phase, you will be able to leave her alone in an open room. This period should come around 6-7 months of age. If you leave a younger pup unattended in a room and not in a playpen or a crate, she will most probably practice some unwanted behaviors, such as chewing furniture.

Imagine leaving your pup in her crate, playpen, or a designated safe space like leaving a young child – the place you chose must be safe for her.

No matter which confinement alternative you would choose, it will require some training to get your pup used to spending time alone. To make it easier for new dog parents, we’ve made a 28-Day training program ‘Trust Me, Pup’. It is a perfect training program to prevent separation anxiety in the future, or improve separation anxiety if your dog is already struggling with spending time alone. The program is self-paced and guides step-by-step throughout the training so even a beginner dog parent could successfully complete it. 

Become a member at Wiglo to get instant access to ‘Trust Me, Pup’ training program, as well as other 10+ programs (over 200 daily lessons in total) for improving dog behavior one day at a time.