Your puppy or rescue dog has learned to feel safe in your care, can rest comfortably in his crate, and realizes the only place to do his business is outside. You're thinking about giving him more space to roam in the house. This is a critical stage in your relationship that will shape his understanding of boundaries and appropriate behavior for the rest of his life. Take it step by step, and be consistent.
Start by allowing your buddy to be with you, supervised and within your sight, whenever you are at home. Take him for breaks outside on a schedule that suits his age and needs. If he starts to take a potty break in the house, quickly interrupt the act and pick him up or guide him outside to finish. Praise him when he's done. To avoid such house training breaks, pay closer attention to his needs.
You're in Charge
Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images
If you fail to watch your pal while he is free in the house, any mistakes he makes, such as chewing cushions or furniture, are your fault, not his. Timing is everything in these teaching moments. Do not scold him if you discover the damage after the fact. He will not make the connection unless you catch him in the act. A belated correction can confuse him and reduce his confidence in your fair leadership.
Bonding and Socialization
This is your time to "be in the moment" with your pet and strengthen his bond with you. Take him out and about with you whenever you can, so that he can experience a wide range of environments and socialize with other people and dogs. When you must leave him home alone, leave him secure in his safe, comfortable place, preferably a large crate or kennel.
Testing ... Testing ...
After teething is well past, the time will arrive when you're ready to test your buddy with more freedom indoors. Relax your eagle eye a little, and allow him to roam the house at will when you're at home. Remain aware of his activities and whereabouts, and keep one ear open. If you suddenly realize he's been awfully quiet for awhile, check on him. Be consistent in your usual correction policy if he transgresses.
If you find it difficult to properly train your pet, sign up for puppy-training classes offered in your area. There, experienced trainers can show you how to use various positive reinforcement techniques to help your little buddy understand what's right and wrong, and feel secure.
When you are confident in your pet's behavior, give him whatever freedom of your home you wish, consistent with safety. Leave his crate door open with safe toys inside, so he has his own comfortable retreat. Maintain his outdoors schedule, and be alert to his needs. The bond of trust you've developed allows your pal to be a great companion who fully enjoys his life at home with you.
Ann V. Young has been writing about pets, culture, film, beauty, home & garden and travel for print and online outlets worldwide for 15 years, and served as Associate Editor at allpets.com. She holds a B.A. from USC and has been a member of the Dog Writers Association of America since 2001.