What kind of behaviors should I be looking for before I let my young dog loose in even part of the house? Right now, she has a 4x6 zone that is pup-safe.

All I want to give her access to right now is the master bedroom (where she sleeps in her crate), the hallway, and the living/dining room.

It's only been a week and I feel that by giving her a safe zone, we've also raised the barrier to play and snuggling because you have to climb in and out to get to her. Her safe zone is centrally located between the living room and the kitchen, where all the family action happens all day long, but I don't know if it's enough.

For reference, she is just 9 weeks old now, so I'm not expecting this in the near future, but I'm hoping someone can give me a kind of "light at the end of the tunnel" on when I can take down the pup-zone, leaving just two crates (one for the bedroom and one for the living room), and have a pup who is free to wander a larger zone and seek out family members for attention as she desires.

2 Answers 2


It sounds like you're off to a great start. Basically, you're trying to set the fundamentals in place, right now. Just keep telling yourself that no matter how much work it seems like, you're doing yourself a favor. If you instill good habits in your pup now, you won't have to continuously worry about things for the rest of his life. A few month of work now, saves years of aggravation later.

For instance, my Jack Russell was given some basic house training when young, but I made mistakes. Now, at 12 years old, I can expect pretty good behavior, but she'll still wander off into a far corner and pee occasionally if she's been in a long time. If someone is around, she asks to go out, but I can't trust her the way I can the keeshond we inherited from my grandmother. She'll hold it for 3 days if necessary. I've seen her do it when she refused to go to the bathroom on vacation, no matter how many walks I took her on.

You're doing excellent in restricting her access to the house. Many people want to give the puppy free run, like you'd eventually like to do. However, the space is so big that a puppy doesn't know yet that all of it is the "den". In the wild a dog, wolf, etc... won't want to dirty it's den, so it'll go outside and mark it's territory out there. That's what you're doing now. Right now, however, the puppy sees it's crate as the den and anywhere else as territory to be marked. Over time, the puppy will come to see the whole house as the "den", but that takes time and acclimatization.

I recommend that the puppy be locked in the crate at night, but during the day, be put in an exercise pen. These are light weight wire panels that connect together to form a playpen. You can put the puppy and a bunch of toys in here, rotating the toys periodically to avoid boredom. This pen can be placed wherever you like. You can even separate two panels and connect them to the corners of the wire crate, so that he can go between the two. This is a great place for her to be when you aren't directly controlling her and if she's trained to it as a puppy, she won't try to get out later in life, even if she gets large enough to destroy it or just jump out.

You don't want to let her loose anywhere in the house unsupervised. You'll learn over time when she can be trusted, because she'll have either had mistakes or not. Most likely she will. I'd say a 99% chance. At 9 weeks, she has no bladder or bowel controls. The muscles haven't developed yet, the same way a human baby needs diapers. The rule of thumb I heard is they can hold it for 1hr per month old they are, not to exceed 9 hours. They'll vary though, and she'll probably be able to hold it all night, well before 8 months old.

It's okay if she goes in the house and you shouldn't say anything negative to her. Simply say, "no" in a calm voice, pick her up, and take her outside if she goes. Then clean the spot with a cleaner designed to remove pet scent to keep her from wanting to go in the same spot again.

Also keep in mind that any dog is more liable to go to the bathroom after waking, eating, drinking, or playing. So be more diligent at these times.

If you keep up this routine and are diligent about it, I think she'll be roaming the house by the time she's 6 months old, maybe sooner if she learns her lessons well. You get out of it what you put into it. Some dogs are harder than others to house train. Just keep in mind it's a set of scales. The more times she does bad and you aren't there to show her the right way, she get beads in her untrustworthy pile. Every time she goes to the potty outside or even if she has an accident, but you say "no" and carry her outside, she gets on in the awesome dog pile. You can't ever remove beads from a pile, just outweigh them on the other side. So stick with it and I think you'll be happy with the results.

  • Yes, she is contained in a 4x6 pen in the kitchen, with her crate there during the day and her crate in our bedroom at night. She doesn't have accidents at all (crazy amount of control for her age). I'm mostly worried about chewing and most of all about her eating every speck of anything off the floor--I don't want her to get sick from anything. When I take her on a leash to check out more parts of the house (as if for a walk), she just wants to lick or eat everything off the floor! Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 0:32
  • I would just keep her on the leash until you know she isn't doing that anymore. It's natural for puppies to mouth and chew things. Babies do the same thing. You just have to provide them something appropriate. It's also a good exercise in getting her to give something up. When she goes to chew, call her over and offer her an appropriate snack or toy. You can give her a filled kong, a treat ball she has to work at to get snacks, a puzzle toy, pig ears, etc...
    – Dalton
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 13:46
  • Sorry I didn't mark your answer sooner. :( I've been taking her on leash walks through the next section of the house I expect her to have the run of. All it does is make me realize how dirty our floors our because she still mouths EVERYTHING. I think it'll be a while before we clean up our act AND her need to eat everything on the floor come together. Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 18:01

I don't think there is a cut and dry answer to this.

Your dog is not perfect and will surely have mishaps, as all dogs do, but I think the safest answer is to let the dog out for longer and longer periods of time until you feel comfortable everything is okay.

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