Risa is 12 years old. She doesn’t need to sleep in a crate in the house; she gets free access. We have a fenced in yard so I don’t have to go outside with her to potty. Even if it’s cold out, it’s up to her to decide when to go and when to come back in. We do compete in dog sports so she’s comfortable in a crate and knows to wait for permission to exit. Though she’s a medium-sized dog and isn’t picked up often, she is comfortable with it when I have to lift her. We used to live together in various apartments so she’s comfortable pottying on leash and will pee on cue. I’ve also always just let her do her business on a schedule rather than waiting for her to let me know she needs to go so she’s used to knowing how long she has to hold it.
None of these things is particularly important to most people as far as training goes. Even to me, I tend to pay little attention to these aspects of Risa’s behavior. I have spent more time on her fearfulness, reactivity, and sports training. Right now, however, I’ve been made fully aware of just how important these little things are.
Risa is on strict crate rest due to her recently diagnosed back problem. She is not allowed to go down stairs, walk around, or move much at all. She is confined to an x-pen all day and goes outside only to potty. Potty breaks are done on leash and she has to be carried inside and out. I have never fully appreciated how well-trained she is in such mundane tasks.
When I open the door to the x-pen, she waits. I loop the leash around her head and she waits patiently for me to lift her. She rides calmly outside where I put her down and cue her to go pee. She pees immediately. When she’s done, I ask her to wait so I can pick her up again. Then I place her in the x-pen, remove the leash, and close the door. All those seemingly minor things I taught her in her youth have been a godsend.
It’s something to keep in mind when we own dogs. You may have a fenced-in back yard and not need to potty your dog on a leash. You may not compete in dog sports and decide you don’t need to teach your dog to be comfortable in a crate. Someday, however, those skills might come in handy!!!