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.

Pleasant Neighbours Vs Annoying Neighbours

Till the time I was not married, I lived in the same house for 23 years. And my parents being so cool as they are, they are always loved by neighbors and other building residents. Fortunately, every resident and neighbors were also so pleasant that we still share cordial relations with them. But as soon as I got married, my luck was never on my side. For some or the other reason, I had to keep changing houses. And that is when I experienced the different types of neighbors, especially when you have dogs.

After we relocated to Mumbai from Dubai, and basically our first house after marriage, we were fortunate enough to get an apartment where the building already had 3 dogs. Adding Casper and Junior, it became 5 dogs in total. My immediate neighbors were dog lovers and very friendly. Overall, all the residents of the building were ok with dogs and did not mind even if I ever walked my dogs at the podium or parking area. In fact, there were times when we even had dog parties having all the dogs gather at the podium and make them play, while the pet parents socialized. Sometimes, even the security guards would tell us to keep our dogs down with them for company. It was safe, and they took good care of our fur babies. I know this, because I am someone who never gives my dogs to anyone when I am not present, but I kept looking from my window which faced the main gate and the security cabin. I lived there for 2 years and had a wonderful experience and stay. I really miss that house and building.

I shifted to another house as I had separated from my ex-husband and had to put up that house for sale. The next society that I lived in, was majorly good. Being a huge society, it had several flats on one floor. My floor had 6 flats. Pretty congested but I had no option. Two of my neighbors were utterly rude, but never interfered in my business. But I always feared encountering them when I would take Casper and Junior for a walk, as they hated dogs. The other three neighbors were chilled out. And one of the couples were such insane dog lovers, that every evening they would bring chicken or fruits for Casper and Junior. Once I got used to the new surrounding and the huge society’s innumerable people, it got a little easier for me take Casper and Junior in the compound for their evening walks. After a period, Casper and Junior were welcomed with open arms by everyone (except my two neighbors) and the kids loved playing with them. I lived there for two and a half years and had to shift again as my lease got over and the owners were looking forward to selling the house rather than putting it up rent again.

The third house that I shifted to, was a disaster, and unfortunately, I lived the longest there, for four and half years. This house had been such a bad luck for me, that every single day I would cry and did not want to spend even a minute more there. But I was facing financial crisis, as well as the legal proceedings for divorce had started, for which I could not change the house.

The day I shifted there, one of the neighbors created a havoc. It had become their ritual to fight with me on daily basis and anyhow, they wanted to kick me out. They were so bad and evil, that even when Casper was ill and vomited blood once on the staircase, the man came and blasted me for making a mess and asked me to clean immediately (which I was obviously going to), inspite of seeing Casper had collapsed and I was struggling to pick him up. Casper passed away within just 18 days of shifting to this house.

However, my other neighbors were so nice, that they stood by me through all thick and thins and cared for Junior and me like family. They looked after me so well, that even when a stranger or service person would come home, someone or the other from their family would come and stand at the door to make sure I was safe. There was a time when I had to be taken to the ER for a deep cut on my hand. My neighbor came with me to the hospital, stood there till I got the stitches, bought my medicines, brought me home and did my dressing every day. In the meantime, their son took care of Junior while I was away, fed him and stayed with him till I came home. Because my hand was nonfunctional for somedays, they made lunch and dinner for me till I was cured.

And finally, the last straw was, one more fight with the disgusting neighbor and I decided to shift even in the lockdown. Today, as I am in the new house, which has far more pleasant and good neighbors, I think to myself that I should have taken this decision earlier rather than spending four and a half years in hell. Junior and me are in a better place now, where he is accepted and loved by all the society members. Kids come to play with him, and the mothers are carefree as they know Junior will do no harm to them.

Sometimes, we linger a lot and hold on to our fears. Fear of the unknown, fear of change. Many a times, there is no problem with us or our life, but it is our surroundings which create problems. But we think, there is something wrong with us. Having the same mentality, I lived in fear and in my comfort zone for many years. Compromising each day thinking “this is my life and I have to deal with it”. But had I shown a little confidence and courage for myself, I did not have to compromise living in a toxic atmosphere that I lived.

It is true. Love yourself, take care of yourself. You must save your own self. Most importantly, trust yourself. We all deserve to live in good atmospheres and live happily. All the solutions are available, we just have to TRUST ourselves that we deserve good and are capable of achieving it.

Moving house is another way to have a New Beginning.

Moving to a new home might not seem like the most profound experience at first blush, but it can symbolize a lot of things. Change, no matter how wonderful and full of opportunity, has perplexed and challenged and inspired humans for eternity. But being a dog mom, moving challenges was a fear I had in the back of mind forever as I was resilient to any change.  What I learnt was when shifting to a new house, don’t do anything to make your dog adjust to the new place. Yes, you read it right. Don’t do anything! Let your dog adjust on his own. It is more of you learning about his adjustments than he learning.

To start from the beginning, I recently moved to a new house. When I had started packing in the old house, Junior sensed that we are going somewhere. He probably thought it was a holiday. But when we shifted and stayed the night over, he got a little cranky and uneasy as he wanted to go back to his old house. Though he slept well through the night, but that was because he was tired. Next morning, he was extremely uneasy, and, even attempted to run out of the house when I had opened the door for someone.

Honestly, I just let him be and continued with his feeding and walking routine. Slowly, Junior spotted his comfort zone in the new house just the same way he had in the old house. I kept observing; Initially, I took him for short walks because I wanted to let Junior get familiar with the new surrounding and also was afraid of any stray dogs attacking him as Junior was invading their territory. At home, I changed Junior’s water bowl position quite a few times before I could understand his comfortable spot to drink.

Living in Mumbai, I cannot take my dogs out for walks often. So I had always trained my dogs to pee in the toilet whenever they felt like out of walking hours. In the new house, the first day, infact in the first 5 minutes, Junior peed in the passage. So just to make him understand that that wasn’t the place for him to pee, I spoke to him in a little stern voice and he realized he did something wrong. Next time when he wanted to pee, I opened the toilet door and directed him to pee there. And Bravo! Ever since Junior has peed only in the toilet. It took him and me only one incident and correction to help him find the spot.

Honestly, it is never easy when you are shifting somewhere with dogs. I would have relocated a year back, but I kept delaying thinking about his adjustments, the surrounding, neighbors, etc. I realized that I was living in my comfort zone and fear. After moving in to the new place, I comprehended that earlier I was living like in a non livable house and just because of over thinking, I never took the initiative to move out. Once I moved, I understood that I was living a lot in my head. It just took me 1 week of effort and toll, and here I am, living the way Junior and I deserve. Because of my habit of overanalyzing and over scrutinizing, I had even made Junior live in compromise. I am guilty but I have learnt from this experience. It has taught me that fear is just an illusion. It eats up your present and a potential future. It literally took only 2 days for Junior to adjust on his own in the new apartment. He now has a new comfort spot for him to laze around, he has smoothly uncovered his play setting and most of all, he has made new stray dog friends.

One advice, if you live in a city where there are a lot of stray dogs and you are impelling to a new area, never let your dog come close to strays for the initial few days. Because, even the stray dogs take some time to understand that you are not a threat to them and they won’t attack you. It’s a piece of cake after a little while.

The best part of moving this time was my first meeting with the building secretary. When I switched my house, I was introduced to the secretary as a formality and identification. I assured him that my dog is very well mannered and harmless. On hearing that, he told me, “Dogs are more mannered and understanding than humans, so relax and enjoy your stay.” I was so happy on hearing that and the warm welcome we got. Because this was not the case when I had shifted to my previous house. That time, my neighbors came fighting and claiming that dogs are not allowed. Other building members had threatened me of dire consequences, and, immediately Casper fell ill, and, passed away. This was the main reason why I was reluctant to switch my house. I kept thinking that, even at the new house my neighbors will hate my dog, the building people will loathe me and Junior and I will have to remain in a shell.

Fortunately, by God’s Grace, we are doing good. So far, everything has unfolded in a positive way, and, I am looking forward to let life’s event unfold one day at a time. I didn’t force Junior to adjust, and that made him adjust quicker. The new house just didn’t open my eyes, but also helped me let go of some of my fears and made me realize Junior and my worth. We were living in a shady house thinking it was the best and never relocated out of fear. But once the plunge was taken, it raised our caliber.

If even a slight hope shows up in any situation, go for it without fear and doubt. You never know, it can change your life for the best. The one who tries never fails. My last experience was bad, but this time I took the leap of faith and it turned out to be a good thing to have happened. I won’t say I am living in a palace, but it is an extremely good upgrade. So, stretch out if you want to do something. Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. Let your fears drown and take the leap. And do not worry about your dog. They are very smart and adjust on their own with ease.