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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello!

I am looking for any input from those of you who have had experience with using an exercise pen instead of a crate for your dog or who have had some difficulty crate training.

My boy did not take to the crate well when I first brought him home. I was persistent with it and he slowly improved. By 5 months I would say he could be crated without throwing tantrums. When he outgrew his crate, I moved him to a 4ft by 4ft ex pen. This is what I used for my previous golden. I like that he can stand up and move around to get comfortable. The ex pen was situated temporarily in my living room and he did well. I worked during the day (7-8 hours) and came home at lunch to find him relaxed and obviously waking him up from a nap. I was pleasantly surprised at how well he took to the exercise pen. Unfortunately, I found when I left him in the evenings, he was not as relaxed. I could tell he scratched at the door when I was gone because I found some small indents/holes in the mat. I always tried to exercise him well before leaving him in the evenings and to not be gone very long.

I have the summer off, and moved the exercise pen to a back bedroom. This is where my older golden stays, although he is loose in the room. My 7 month old seems to be struggling with this change. I know he DOES relax and sleep in the ex pen at times while I’m gone, because I come home to his sleepy face, no panting, etc. But at least half of the time, if not more, I know he has been barking, scratching or whining. I come home to him panting and there are several areas on the mat that are getting small holes. I’m leaving for less time than I did while I was working, and yet he doesn’t seem to relax as well as he did a month or two ago when his ex pen was in the living room.

Looking for suggestions since I’ve been trying to brainstorm options. Do I stick it out (it’s been about a month that the ex pen has been in the back room and he has struggled) and trust he will adapt and relax? My main concern is his scratching and ruining the mat…. I don’t want him to damage it enough that he could tear off pieces and potentially eat parts of it. It’s not close to that point yet, but I’m monitoring it closely.

Do I move to a large wire crate that I could have in the living room? The ex pen does not fit well in the living room, which is why it was only there temporarily. But I could easily fit a large wire crate. Maybe he would feel better if he had less space instead of more?

For extra information, he has a crate in the car (plastic, not wire) that he does great in. It’s too small for him to be left in for long periods of time, but I don’t travel very far and like him crated while I drive. He has never been kept in a wire crate, but I think it’s hard to find large enough plastic crates that are not crazy expensive.

I want him in an ex pen or crate for safety reasons. I don’t want him stressed, but I can make him tough it out if he will adjust to it in the end. But maybe I should put a pause on the ex pen and try it again when he is a little older? Just looking for some other opinions- I’m not sure the best direction to go with him lol

As always, thanks for taking the time to help me out :)
 

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Dogs generally will not pee or poop wear they sleep. That is why we use a crate for them to sleep in and be held under control while they are potty training and sleeping. Using an X pen negates the purpose for house breaking, running around in the pen, the pee and poop where they want...!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Dogs generally will not pee or poop wear they sleep. That is why we use a crate for them to sleep in and be held under control while they are potty training and sleeping. Using an X pen negates the purpose for house breaking, running around in the pen, the pee and poop where they want...!
Thank you for your advice! Thankfully my pup is 7 months old and completely housebroken. So I’m looking to use a crate or ex pen not for house breaking anymore, but for safety reasons. I don’t like my dogs loose where they could find something to get into while I’m away from home. Even my older, very mellow and reliable golden, is kept enclosed in a single bedroom when I’m away from home. :)
 

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Beckett
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Do your two get along well when you’re home and they’re around the house? My first thought was maybe that your younger one is seeing the older one in the room, but can’t access him to play and he’s getting upset. Could you put the younger one in a different room from the older one with no distractions?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Do your two get along well when you’re home and they’re around the house? My first thought was maybe that your younger one is seeing the older one in the room, but can’t access him to play and he’s getting upset. Could you put the younger one in a different room from the older one with no distractions?
This is a good thought! The ex pen was changed to a new room, but being put in the same room as my older golden is also a change….hmmm. They get along great. My older golden is so mellow, I can’t imagine he’s doing much other than sleeping while I’m gone. I assumed being with him would be a comfort for my pup, but ya maybe not?? They do play together from time to time when out with each other.

This is the only room that has space for the ex pen. I would have to lock my older golden in a different room… which IS an option, but I am hesitant just because he has become accustomed to this routine for 7 years now. I’ll think on that, thanks for the input!
 

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I have older dogs and a 4 month old Golden. I mostly work from home but when I do have to go out for 2 or so hours at a time I have him baby gated in one living room looking into the other where the older dogs are free. The older dogs used to have the whole house but don’t mind being gated in at all. My puppy gets exercise before I leave and some treats as I go. I check in on the camera and he seems to just sleep and is quite happy.

He used to be in a pen but he then could jump over it. I feel like he’s going to be sporty and able to jump the gates before long so I’ll have to figure something else out or get taller gates. I will not leave him alone with the older dogs as one likes her space and doesn’t want a puppy in her face, maybe forever or maybe he will be mature enough and he can be with everyone else.

Oh, I’ve attempted to lock my girl Golden in another room so she has her own space but she hates it. She wants to be with her brother Labrador and I think they also prefer the feeling of a gate to a door shut. Perhaps you can use a baby gate if need be. I think sometimes they can adjust really easily and surprise us and then other times with some things they just need that routine to not change at all. None of my dogs like closed doors. I guess they like to be able to see everything.

I have also bought a taller pen but have yet to try it. Like you it’s kind of big and takes up space but it may be something I need to do in future and I think lIke your boy he may not like it after the feeling of being more free. I’m hoping a tasty Kong will do that job but we’ll see.
 

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Perhaps set up a camera so you can see what’s actually causing him the stress. This will make the solution easier to figure out.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have older dogs and a 4 month old Golden. I mostly work from home but when I do have to go out for 2 or so hours at a time I have him baby gated in one living room looking into the other where the older dogs are free. The older dogs used to have the whole house but don’t mind being gated in at all. My puppy gets exercise before I leave and some treats as I go. I check in on the camera and he seems to just sleep and is quite happy.

He used to be in a pen but he then could jump over it. I feel like he’s going to be sporty and able to jump the gates before long so I’ll have to figure something else out or get taller gates. I will not leave him alone with the older dogs as one likes her space and doesn’t want a puppy in her face, maybe forever or maybe he will be mature enough and he can be with everyone else.

Oh, I’ve attempted to lock my girl Golden in another room so she has her own space but she hates it. She wants to be with her brother Labrador and I think they also prefer the feeling of a gate to a door shut. Perhaps you can use a baby gate if need be. I think sometimes they can adjust really easily and surprise us and then other times with some things they just need that routine to not change at all. None of my dogs like closed doors. I guess they like to be able to see everything.

I have also bought a taller pen but have yet to try it. Like you it’s kind of big and takes up space but it may be something I need to do in future and I think lIke your boy he may not like it after the feeling of being more free. I’m hoping a tasty Kong will do that job but we’ll see.
I’ve also considered setting a baby gate up to the bedroom door- I’ve wondered if the closed door bothers him. Also, when he was in the living room he saw me leave the house. In the bedroom, he doesn’t see me leave and maybe thinks I’m still there? Which would make more sense to why he would be barking and whining.
I also don’t want to leave my two out together. My older golden needs his space and I would worry about my pup bothering him continuously lol.

Appreciate your experience and perspective! I
You also reminded me of going back to using something very tasty when they are first crated. I put some spray can cheese in the crate months ago and that really helped make positive associations. Don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner, but I’ll try that out again with this ex pen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I have never crated my dogs. They have the run of the house.

If you love your rugs or your furniture more than your dogs, then you shouldn't have dogs. IMHO.
That’s awesome that they are able to have run of the house. Im sure they enjoy that freedom and space to be comfortable :)
I can’t imagine many people on here love their rugs or furniture more than their goldens… what a sad thought. Mine are my absolute world- it may seem crazy to non dog people what we are willing to do for them, but I don’t particularly care haha. They deserve everything I do to make them safe, confident and happy dogs. The relationship is irreplaceable.
 
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