Hi everyone. This is my first time on the forum, and this is the topic I wanted to discuss. Our puppy Lucia will be one year old next month. For the last two months, she's been allowed to spend the night outside of the crate, in our bedroom. That has been no problem (she's sleepy by then, plus the bedroom is pretty spartan; not much to chew on).
However, we have yet to leave her free in a room/area of the house while we're away, and there are items in the other rooms that, at one time or another, she has chewed on or pulled down from their place. Sometimes she does it out of frustration (like if she wants a toy that she knocked out of reach under the couch, she bites the couch). Other times, she's doing it for my attention (and I've been learning how to correct her with the minimum attention or physical touch so that it isn't gratifying).
The closest we've come to leaving her unattended in the house is taking a shower without crating her, and I've been pleasantly surprised that when I emerge from the bathroom, I find her laying in the living room, chilling out.
I'm thinking about slowly transitioning to leaving her in a living room/hallway area while we are away. It's not that I'm in a big hurry to do it, but I'm a little worried that if we wait too long, there'll come a point where, instead of just a natural transition, it will cause an unwarranted sense of temptation to get into trouble. The best comparison I can think of is if you have a teenager who is so tightly supervised and so forbidden from drinking that when he turns 21, he goes wild for a couple of years, whereas had he not felt like he was being controlled so heavily, he might not have desired it quite so much; it wouldn't be so tempting. So, first question: does that idea even make any sense? Do dogs do better handling more freedom if it happens gradually, naturally, and while they're still youngish? Will doing it younger increase the chances that she doesn't realize all the trouble she could be getting into, and just accepts it as down time?
Next question: Should I wait until I haven't seen her try to chew on or take anything she should't have when we're home before I even start the process of leaving her uncrated (which might not be for a while)? Or could it be that some of her naughty behavior, aimed at getting my attention, will not even come up when I'm not home because she knows she won't get attention for it?
Finally, when the time is finally right, what suggestions do you have for transitioning her? How long to start with? What precautions should we take? To what extent should we chew-proof that space (beyond what we've already done)?
Sorry for such a long post, and thanks if you're still reading!!