How much freedom is too much freedom?

Is there such a thing as too much freedom? In case of dogs, I don’t think that such a thing exists! Atleast in my house. What I believe is, dogs are already confined to in one house, if you have a backyard, then one house and a backyard. In that, if you restrict them to not enter the kitchen or bedroom or on the bed, then it is not fair. But this is entirely my perspective. And far more easier for me as I live alone.

Casper and Junior had no restrictions in the house. They were and are allowed on the couch, bed, kitchen, practically everywhere. They had full access to the house. But before we achieved this freedom, I have paid a little price for it. That is, I had to train both my dogs so that there were no accidents or damage. The price I paid was, eaten walls, eaten wires, damaged shoes, a little fall here and there, peeing anywhere, broken crockery, eating scraps in the kitchen, and some more little accidents.

But this freedom still comes with a price. There is dog hair everywhere. On the couch, bed, kitchen platform, wardrobes, bathrooms, etc. As I mentioned earlier, it is easier for me as I live alone and I pretty much now cannot live without coming across dog hair from anything I use.

However, there are some dogs that cannot be left loose in the whole house. If that’s the case with your dog, do not get disappointed. You can always crate train them. Crates are great to keep the dog safe and out of trouble. Since I was always of the opinion that dogs should be left loose in the house, I never found the need to get a crate and trained them accordingly. I had also trained my dogs to stay alone at home when I was not there. Again, initially I paid a price for it, because when I came home, I would find poop at random places or torn mattress or chewed bottles, etc. I never left them alone for long hours and they always had access to fresh drinking water. Also, they were always fed before I left the house as I have also managed my time according to their feeding schedule.

So, if you are thinking about giving your dog full freedom and if your dog is still having accidents or if he’s chewing off-limit items, it may be too challenging for him to be left loose while home alone at this point. Just keep working on the basics and use a crate for now. There is no magic age that says dogs can suddenly be given more freedom. It all depends on your unique dog’s behavior, so just be patient.

Don’t think about giving your dog too much freedom too quickly. You have to build a solid behavioral foundation for him first. I would like to bring one important point to your notice, i.e. never force your dog into the crate and never use it as a punishment. Always create a positive atmosphere by using treats and extra goodies like stuffed toys or durable toys while you are away.

Besides crates, there are also pet gates. They are fold-able and portable. Let’s say, you do not want your dog in the kitchen. You can put the gate at your kitchen entrance and restrict your dogs from entering the kitchen. Or you can use these gates anywhere in the house where you do not want your dog to have access to.

Now, let me make one thing clear. If your dog is trained and goes hours without any trouble in house, doesn’t mean he can be let off leash or let roam free outside your house and in your locality. No matter how well trained and well behaved your dog is, it is neither safe nor appropriate to allow your dog to roam free or off leash outside, even with supervision.

Every dog is unique. With time, you will understand your dog’s behavior and will be able to take a call if your dog can be allowed in the whole house or restricted to a particular area. None of the decisions will be wrong. Start by leaving your dog alone for 30 minutes, and then gradually increase the time. Accordingly adjust the time as per their meal schedules and your work schedules. If you do not want them on the bed, get them their own bed. I would also like to suggest to not leaving your dogs in the crate all day long. Besides their walks, let them play or roam a little in the house or your backyard.

Never punish your dogs, specially for making funny Instagram or TikTok Videos

Although everyone wants to give their puppy plenty of space to play and explore, allowing it free run of the house too early on is a sure recipe for disaster. Keep setting your puppy up for success by making sure it has toys to play with, has had plenty of exercise beforehand, and has already gone to the toilet.

Eventually, once he is able to go a full month without making any mistakes, he will be truly ready to roam the house on his own. Don’t expect a completely smooth process- but do expect a rewarding one as you develop an unspoken bond with your dog.

My Dog is Aging

It is a well-known fact that dog’s age faster than humans. A dog is typically considered a senior at 8 years old. Well, Junior is 9+ years old, and so considered a senior. Today, I am not going to share any guidance or tips for caring of senior dogs. But I will exchange my journey so far with Junior.

Let me start by saying that I am blessed to see this day that Junior has reached this age. Blessed because my first and elder dog Casper lived only for 5 years 8 months and I always feared that Junior will be gone too soon too. We have had our share of ups and downs, but we made it till here. And I wish that Junior lives healthy and as long as he can.

Junior was born on 21st May ’12. He was among-st one of the cute puppies from a litter of 8. That was the last mating we had done for Casper. For all those who do not know, yes, Junior is Casper’s son. Junior was 40 days old when I bought him home. He was supposed to be adopted by a relative, but given back. After that, Junior was again adopted twice but returned for various reasons. Eventually, I adopted him and ever since, life has been wonderful.

Junior’s first day at home

Unlike Casper, Junior has always been a sloppy water drinker. He spills more than he drinks. Whereas Casper would never cowp the water bowls. Junior is also taller than a normal Labrador Retriever. I never got Junior mated and got him neutered at 7 months old. Casper and Junior had always been opposites. Casper was a very calm and sensible dog; while on the contrary, Junior has always been hyper and playful.

Uptil last year, Junior was extremely playful, naughty and hyper active. My friends and relatives would always tell me that they had never seen such a naughty dog at the age of 8. My parents would clear the entire house and make it dog proof when they knew I was bringing Junior there. Whenever Junior would meet his favourite people, they would be prepared for his jumpiness. Infact, when I would take Junior socialising, people would be surprised to know that an eight years old dog is so agile and still looks like a juvenile.

 I was carefree. Somewhere in my mind I had thought that Junior will always remain this active. However, since the time he got Pancreatitis, he slowed down. Ensuing he slowed down a little more after ever little illness. This is something I cannot digest, or let’s just say; I do not want to welcome the fact that my dog is aging.

Aging doesn’t have to be painful for a dog. I have followed my Vet’s instructions very well, made some lifestyle changes for Junior, started some supplements, changed his food, and Junior is doing just fine. Junior has always suffered from fat lumps, but that has never altered his way of living and they are not life threatening.

It’s been a little more than a week since Junior’s stye/tumour surgery, and he is back to his goofy self; but a little slow. My dog is aging hit me hard when my Dad told me that Junior has become quite calm than what he was before. And whatever my father says is cast in stone. If my Dad noticed it, then definitely Junior has slowed down.

As Junior is aging, his needs are changing. These slow and subtle changes first made me think that he is ignoring me. But my Vet made me understand the entire aging process. Now is the time that Junior needs me all the more. Having him and Casper is the best thing that ever happened to me. And now is my turn to prove my unconditional love for him and make him as comfortable as he can. I am ready to cancel plans or not go out, no matter what people say. Infact, many have even asked me for how long will Junior live, ignoring that fact that this question hurts me like hell and breaks my heart into pieces. I can understand that they do understand my love for Junior. But they even fail to understand, even after repeatedly telling them that Junior is my priority and I am missing out on nothing if I do not go out for lunch/dinner/holidays with them, or if I do not get a man to get married to. Some idiots even asked me about the money I paid for Junior’s surgery, and then got surprised when I told them the amount and vomited words like I spent too much on a dog.

Anyway, I am not a people pleaser and I really don’t care. Junior is soon due for his Cataract surgery (another sign of aging) and again, I will pay any amount required. Every passing day, I understand Junior’s every move. Some things that were once comfortable for him are now uncomfortable. I take a note and try finding alternatives as per his comfort. His skin and coat is changing. He sleeps more. His walk time has reduced. He plays less. And I have become anxious. Though it may sound like a lot of work to care for a dog as he hits senior years, such devotion has its own special rewards, including knowing that you’ve done everything you can for a companion that has been dependent on you from day one and has showered you with unconditional love and loyalty.

I am lucky and blessed to have spent 9 glorifying years with Junior, and I look forward to spend many more years to come. I love all dogs, but there is nothing like the sweet gentle soul of an old dog.