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.

You are stuck!

I have heard this a million times and still hear it – “You are stuck!”. Why do people say this? It is because I am a single woman with a dog, and, I cancel out on a lot of plans. I believe many would be able to relate to this. But what people do not understand is, I am not stuck. This is the life I have chosen for myself and I am enjoying it. Not just enjoying, but I am extremely comfortable as well.

I had a friend tell me, “you are missing out on it”. This was when the clubs had opened and I had an invite for a Halloween Party, and, I refused to go so that I could stay home with Junior. What I do not understand is, what am I missing out on? Meeting random people and sharing unnecessary information or drinking with people whose company I barely enjoy or just click pictures and share it on social media to show the world that I have a pretty amazing life? Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-social and neither am I an introvert. I have just learnt that my peace is more important than anything else. I socialize; but only with friends and family that I enjoy with. I share my life only with the ones I am comfortable with. I spend my money only on things that give me happiness in return.

But every time I cancel a plan, 99% of the time people tell me “I am stuck”. My priority is Junior, and, under no circumstances I will ever compromise on his food or walk timings. People feel that just because I have to feed Junior at a particular time, I cannot come out and I am stuck with him. They also feel that just because I have to wake up early to walk Junior, I cannot stay out late for any parties and I am stuck. NO! This is my life. Junior is my son and I am extremely happy living the way I am living. I choose to be at home in my pajamas, messy hair, cook a meal, watching some series or paint and Junior by my side, rather than going out clubbing or dinners where I have to fake laugh and be around people. This is not something I have to do; it’s something I choose to do.

When I was dating someone, I did the same. We would go out once a week, but on all other days, we would cook dinner together, eat, laugh, drink and have fun while Junior would sleep next to us. For me, this is called spending quality time.

When I was young, or let’s say, when I was in college, I would hate being home. All day long, I would just be roaming outside going for lunches or bowling, movies, clubbing or just chill at a friend’s place. I have done it all. But as I grew older and matured with time and circumstances, I found more peace in being by myself and my dogs.

And by all means, this also doesn’t mean that I am not in touch with people. Of course I am in touch with all my friends and family members. Every now and then I will text and call my friends, ask them their whereabouts, share my routine with them, meet up family members occasionally, go for holidays with cousins and friends, etc. Moreover, it’s where my energy takes me. I do not force myself for the sake of being in touch or being social to go out.

During the lockdown, I had seen and heard so many people getting anxious or depressed only because they couldn’t go out. Honestly, nothing wrong with people who enjoy going out every now and then. But the lockdown, didn’t make any difference to me. I got to spend so much time with Junior, cook different dishes and excelled in different forms and styles of painting. It’s not that I do not feel lonely ever. But feeling lonely at home is much better than feeling alone in a crowd.

I actually do things that I enjoy. I am more productive. When I meet people occasionally, I enjoy their company more. I feel independent. I don’t have the burden to constantly keep people happy. I don’t look for validation. I enjoy the serenity of silence. I feel completely relaxed. I enjoy Junior’s company to the fullest and I relish my Tea in my pajamas. I am not a loner. I just refuse to waste my energy and money on anything that doesn’t bring me happiness and peace.

But, the world is so quick to judge. People believe or rather assume, without taking into consideration the facts, I am stuck at home because of Junior. They never understand that dogs ask for nothing. They never keep us stuck. Infact, the amount of love and comfort they give us is unbelievable. Infact, Junior’s meal and walk timings are fixed as per my schedule. So how do people judge that Junior has held me back! Many even say, I will not get a husband because I have a dog. Who will accept me with a dog? While I know this isn’t true and there are load of men who are dog lovers as well; if there is even an ounce of truth in that statement, then I am happier alone than be with someone who does not appreciate my dog.

One harsh truth I would like to share with you all. All these people who have told me that I am stuck or who are in a hurry to give up my dog for adoption and just get me married to any random person just because I am aging, are the ones who left my side when I was going through a tough time. My friend had told me once, “Never leave or compromise on your priorities for someone or to keep them happy, because when it is their turn to come for you, they will turn their backs on you.” I stand by this and also have firsthand experience.

I even come back midway from weddings to be with Junior.

This lockdown showed me a lot of people’s true intentions and true faces. And I am glad for that. Now all the more I love spending time at home and with Junior and do not waste my energy, time and money on unnecessary people. Also, Junior is aging, and, I want to make his old age as comfortable as possible and want to spend maximum time with him. I only want to spend time with people who understands me and who never take offense if do not call them or meet them regularly because they know it is nothing personal. It is just who I am!

I am single. Don’t pity me. I am not lonely. I choose to live like this. Because I have seen it all. I am done. Done settling, done dating shitty men, done relying on relatives, done supporting friends who turned out to be snakes. Because now I know what I deserve. What I want. I can wait, but not compromise on Junior and my peace. And NO, I AM NOT STUCK!

This is my comfort zone and I love it.