Penny Instructions

The new owners of Lucy (nee Penny) wrote to me asking for instructions. They were feeling guilty for leaving her in the crate all day and then again all night when they go to bed. Here’s what I wrote:

Thanks for the update. I appreciate it now that I’m Penny-less. I’m glad she’s fitting in. She really likes people so much I knew she’d be okay, but I was a little worried she might miss the other dogs at first.


I don’t like crating that much either, but it teaches a couple of things. One is it is helpful in housebreaking them (hope she’s doing as well at your house as she did at mine; she had it down pat here) but it also teaches them to rest during the day while you’re out instead of getting into things. But because my dogs are cooped up (even though they have the run of most of the house) I take them for a walk in the morning and a longer one in the evening, kind of out of guilt for leaving them alone all day. Once they are older their metabolism slows down and I think they’re really okay sleeping most of the day, but sometimes I guess it does get boring for them just the same. I think that’s why they get so excited when the postman comes since that’s a big part of the day for them. The fact is that whether they are in the house or in a crate or in the yard they are going to be bored until you come home. You are their pack and they like being around their pack.

With Katie I would keep her in the kitchen (with her crate door open) so she would have some room to walk around and get to food and water but she would just sleep all day anyway (or try to bust out which she was pretty good at). They just aren’t going to play on their own. But eventually with the combination of her chewing up some things, me getting things out of the way before that happened, and her learning what not to chew, I didn’t mind leaving her out and she did okay (Lucy really gets into stuff right now, but so did Katie when she was that age). My girlfriend leaves her two dogs in her backyard during the day with a doggy door going into the basement so they can keep out of the rain. I think that’s a good answer too, but Lucy might bark and bother the neighbors and she might get out too. I’m so close to some busy streets that I don’t like to leave mine in the backyard when I’m not there, though when I know I will be gone longer than 10 hours I leave the back door propped open so they can come in and out of the house (even so they mostly stay in the house and when I get home they run in the backyard and do their business, just like always).

Some dogs really love their crates and the crates become like an indoor doghouse that they use on their own all the time. Katie tolerated hers and didn’t mind not having it when she outgrew it. Susan’s dog was miserable in the crate and would just howl until she was let out. My brother never closed the door on his dog’s crate and she would go there whenever she was sleepy or nervous. Just play it by ear. Dogs don’t get as tired of doing the same thing all the time as people do. They love routines. My dogs would love going on exactly the same walk every day and smelling exactly the same trees and chipmunk holes. And they love getting the same dog food every day (though they also enjoy going to my girlfriend’s house and eating the food out of those bowls there).

Anyway, the only sentence you need from all this is Play it by ear. Do what you think is best and you’ll be fine. No matter what you’re giving her a better home than just about any other parallel universe she might end up in.

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