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Abroz

Look Ma, No Crate.

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I actually learned of that book on these boards. It most certainly doesn't apply to the specific situations of most people (myself included). But I point it out for the overall philosophy of allowing dogs more freedom, within the reality constraints of one's life.

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I listened to this as a book-on-tape, years ago. I don't remember much about it, but I do know that the author uses a shock collar in at least one instance. That's not confinement, granted, but it's not what I'd call freedom either. Yes, the author installs a dog door and allows his dog to come and go at will--in a very rural mountain environment I might add--but I wouldn't do it. It isn't even feasible in a suburban area, unless you want the dog warden at your door. I also won't install a dog door, even with a fenced yard. Too many thefts, hawks, potentially dog-aggressive dogs that can dig under or scale a 6 foot fence and neighbors who probably appreciate that my dogs aren't outdoors barking their heads off. The only way I'd have a dog door is if it ran out into an enclosed, roofed kennel.

However, I figured that you'd posted the book, not as a corresponding example for puppy rearing, but as an example of the overall philosophy. I don't want to discount your points regarding giving a dog some freedom, and I agree that's a worthwhile conversation. I get that an overly controlling handler/environment can create and/or perpetuate problems as well. Certainly a pup learns what is and is not acceptable when left free to engage its environment, but this is while being supervised and taught what is and isn't acceptable. I also like that your pup will settle and chew on a toy, without being crated, while you're present. But if I'm too busy to supervise and the alternatives are either crate the pup or let the pup practice undesirable behaviors, which I don't want becoming ingrained by practice, I'll choose the crate.

I have a "go lay down" cue for my dogs that is as effective as a crate, and I sometimes use an open-door crate as a "place" cue when I have the occasional visitor. But that's while I'm at home; and my dogs are adults. I am simply not willing to take any chances with a pup's safety by testing theories about freedom when I'm not at home.

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By 6 months old most of my dogs have been out of crates except for: 
A-) Meals.  There are 5 of them. I COULD feed them all at bowls in a line and ask them to stay out of one another's food and on rare occasions I have, but frankly this is more stress from them and supervision from me than simply putting food in the crate and closing the door.  Also associating crates with meal times and special treats keeps them liking their crates. 

B-) When I'm not home.  Since I work from home this is pretty rare. 

C-) When at a trial (disc or agility).  Most of their crating is there,  frankly, and is often about 6 out of 8 total hours crated.  

D-) All that emergency/unforeseen stuff like traveling or the vet.


I do have a dog door into a fenced yard.  It's a small yard, in a rural area.  They're welcome to take themselves out there to watch the world and to go to the bathroom  - if I am home.  I can see into the yard from where I work and certainly I can easily hear anything going on out there. If barking happens, they're called in - they learn fast to stay quiet out there. 

My dogs learn how to chill out and self entertain.  Right now 3 are asleep in the room I'm in, one is on the couch watching Animal Planet and the youngest is sitting outside in he yard watching the world go by.


The youngest is also nearly 2 years old. 

When they are 8 wees old, it is eyes on all the time.    They know nothing.  They pee frequently.  They chew things.  They bark at things.  They're learning all the time what is and isn't acceptable and if I'm not there to teach them they will come to their own conclusions.   By probably 12 weeks they're able to spend some time on a bed with a chew for a while - in the room with me - and so it does until they've learned enough not to be heathens and have free run of the house. 

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12 hours ago, GentleLake said:

My library doesn't have it so I'll have to see if I can get it through inter-library loan.

I'm having a hard time imagining how finding an adult semi-feral (or feral) dog and accommodating its transition to life in a home would parallel raising a border collie from a puppy, but I'm prepared to be enlightened. 

I have read that book, and in fact own a copy of it. It is a good book, and worth reading. but the story there in no way is similar to raising a border collie puppy.  The dog in this book is an adult, for starters, and has lived on his own for some period of time, although how long is not known (although he was not feral). Another thing is that the author and owner of the dog in the book lives in a very small cabin the mountains, far removed even from the closest town, which is a very small town. Even his neighbors are not close by. He allows the dog to come and go from his house freely, which may be a controversial approach to some folks, but that is what the book is about. I fail to see any correlation between that situation and raising a border collie puppy in a house in town.

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7 minutes ago, D'Elle said:

I have read that book, and in fact own a copy of it. It is a good book, and worth reading. but the story there in no way is similar to raising a border collie puppy.  The dog in this book is an adult, for starters, and has lived on his own for some period of time, although how long is not known (although he was not feral). Another thing is that the author and owner of the dog in the book lives in a very small cabin the mountains, far removed even from the closest town, which is a very small town. Even his neighbors are not close by. He allows the dog to come and go from his house freely, which may be a controversial approach to some folks, but that is what the book is about. I fail to see any correlation between that situation and raising a border collie puppy in a house in town.

 

This is how I treat the *cat* that my former neighbors left behind - and while not feral it's only after a few years that she's become willing to let us pet her  (she became willing to run into the house after about a year, though, for safety/food/warmth in nasty weather).  As an approach to a very skittish adult animal that it's been on its own,  it makes sense that this would build trust and relationship.    I mean, ignoring the practical issues with it,  which are awfully hard to ignore for a dog.


...It has absolutely no bearing on a puppy who is a-) vulnerable and b-) hardwired to trust and bond to start with. 


In fact I would imagine that while allowing access to home/people to happen on the dog's terms during trust building would gradually create a dog who wants more and more to do with people as it finds them more and more relevant and useful (and good, and trustworthy), doing this with a puppy who already wants to learn, be taught, and be around people it would simply do the opposite - make human interaction and relationship LESS relevant to the dog than its start point.  That's ... not exactly what you want from a pet. 

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3 hours ago, D'Elle said:

I have read that book, and in fact own a copy of it. It is a good book, and worth reading. but the story there in no way is similar to raising a border collie puppy.  The dog in this book is an adult, for starters, and has lived on his own for some period of time, although how long is not known (although he was not feral). Another thing is that the author and owner of the dog in the book lives in a very small cabin the mountains, far removed even from the closest town, which is a very small town. Even his neighbors are not close by. He allows the dog, which may be a controversial approach to some folks, but that is what the book is about. I fail to see any correlation between that situation and raising a border collie puppy in a house in town.

I haven't read the book so I'll take your word for it, thanks. Having said that, if you *don't* live in a very small cabin in the mountains, far removed even from the closest town, which is a very small town and allowing your dog to come and go from your house freely, what benefit is there to reading it? Seems like a such a tiny demographic to even relate to for most of us. Particularly those of us with Border Collie puppies.

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On 1/16/2019 at 1:40 AM, Flora & Molly said:

We don't use crates for our dogs.

When a puppy misbehaves and won't settle down somewhere we would send it to their place (basket or pillow). Keep taking the pup to place (gently but firmly) until the message is received and the pup settles there, with something appropriate to chew on. This would sometimes happen in the evening when everyone relaxes, except for the pup. It can take a lot of time and patience, but I think it is worth it.

Another thing we do is teach the "go away" command. Very useful. It is mostly for when the dog is trying to get your attention and ignoring doesn't work. It basically means "go settle somewhere, anywhere", which can be quite close to you as well as long as the dog settles down.

Thanks Flora & Molly.  Sounds like your approaches are similar to mine. 

I like the idea of the "go away" command.  I have a couple versions that seem similar.  One is "move" which is an immediate command that evolved in mountain biking with my first border collie, Essie, where it meant "get off the trail this instant so I don't run you over".  However it evolved to be a generally useful way to say "go someplace else, anyplace, but do it right now."  Useful when walking through with laundry baskets or to claim space on the couch!  I also use "go lie down" to tell the dog to stop bothering me and go occupy itself elsewhere, without specifying exactly where. 

On 1/16/2019 at 11:50 AM, CptJack said:

I have actually seen situations in which young puppies were over-crated, IMO, and it did lead to issues for the puppy.   However, that was pretty extreme and a situation where the puppy was effectively isolated from LIFE - even observing it because not only was pup crated, it was crated and covered, nearly constantly.  That's not crate training, though, or using a crate to train a puppy.  That was, IMO, flat out abuse ... particularly since it led to physical issues (like UTI and muscle wasting).

Those stories are so sad.  I think less extreme cases are also very sad.  For example, I know people (acquaintances/people at work) who leave their dogs in crates for the whole work day, like 9, 10, 11 hours at a time.  I actually think that's a fairly common scenario nowadays.  Abuse?  I don't know.  People mean well I think.  Maybe their dogs get to go for walks and play with their people in the mornings and evenings.  But dang, that's a lot of hours in a small space without a chance to even walk around and stretch one's legs.  I mean, my office at work is small and everything but at least I am allowed to walk down the hall to pee.

On 1/16/2019 at 7:05 AM, ShellyF said:

Your comments are interesting. I think the dynamic of training changes when there are multiple people in the house. Training the others around here is as much as training the pup!

Thanks.  I agree about other people.  Training my husband is the hardest part of this!  My friend and I were talking about "Man Caves" as a form of crate training.  Once they are potty/manner trained out in the garage, maybe it's OK to let them in the house for short periods... but only if you keep a close eye on them.  :) (just kidding of course)

It's also been challenging to train the treat lady in the neighborhood to not give the puppy anything.  "No Bea.  She can't have anything, thanks."  "No Bea, she can't have anything this afternoon either, thanks"  "No Bea, she can't have anything today either, thanks."

I do not have multiple dogs.  But I imagine that changes things the dynamic a lot too.

On 1/16/2019 at 12:38 PM, GentleLake said:

I think the best thing at this point is to agree to disagree.

OK, that's fine.  Just want to have a discussion.  I have benefited from many of your other posts on this forum, but we don't have to agree on everything. 

Oh, and yes, I have puppy-proofed my house for safety issues, and that's worth it to me to be able to let her have more freedom.

23 hours ago, highway61 said:

So when your pup needs a nap and won't give up the ghost on her own, we just let her be her own "nap captain"? :D

Yes.  She is in fact her own nap captain.  When she's tired, she somehow figures it out all by herself and she goes off in a corner someplace and sleeps.  She also manages to go over to her water bowl and drink without my reminding her.  Maybe she is exceptionally brilliant.

Sometimes I wonder how wild animals manage to eat, drink, sleep, and fornicate without us telling them what to do and when to do it. :D

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On 1/16/2019 at 1:51 PM, urge to herd said:

For the O.P. ~ I've never raised a pup. If I were to get a puppy to raise, I'd look for advice from people who have a few puppies 'under their belt', so to speak. And I'd probably be a little extra cautious, particularly with things that could quite possibly harm a pup, simply because I'd be a first time puppy raiser.

If you want to experiment w/the 'more freedom' approach with your next few puppies, please post your experiences. 

Ruth & Gibbs

Gani is my 3rd border collie puppy.  I treated the others in much the same way as I'm treating her.  They turned out to be very good dogs who did not destroy things as they were growing up and who could be entrusted with dog doors etc for their entire long lives (15 and 17 years). 

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8 hours ago, terrecar said:

I listened to this as a book-on-tape, years ago. I don't remember much about it, but I do know that the author uses a shock collar in at least one instance. That's not confinement, granted, but it's not what I'd call freedom either. Yes, the author installs a dog door and allows his dog to come and go at will--in a very rural mountain environment I might add--but I wouldn't do it. It isn't even feasible in a suburban area, unless you want the dog warden at your door. I also won't install a dog door, even with a fenced yard. Too many thefts, hawks, potentially dog-aggressive dogs that can dig under or scale a 6 foot fence and neighbors who probably appreciate that my dogs aren't outdoors barking their heads off. The only way I'd have a dog door is if it ran out into an enclosed, roofed kennel.

However, I figured that you'd posted the book, not as a corresponding example for puppy rearing, but as an example of the overall philosophy. I don't want to discount your points regarding giving a dog some freedom, and I agree that's a worthwhile conversation. I get that an overly controlling handler/environment can create and/or perpetuate problems as well. Certainly a pup learns what is and is not acceptable when left free to engage its environment, but this is while being supervised and taught what is and isn't acceptable. I also like that your pup will settle and chew on a toy, without being crated, while you're present. But if I'm too busy to supervise and the alternatives are either crate the pup or let the pup practice undesirable behaviors, which I don't want becoming ingrained by practice, I'll choose the crate.

I have a "go lay down" cue for my dogs that is as effective as a crate, and I sometimes use an open-door crate as a "place" cue when I have the occasional visitor. But that's while I'm at home; and my dogs are adults. I am simply not willing to take any chances with a pup's safety by testing theories about freedom when I'm not at home.

I don't agree with the shock collar at all and would never, ever use one.  Also, having read the book recently, I would suspect that the author would not do the same thing again now.  I would guess that he was learning in the times (I think the early/mid 90s) and place (rural Wyoming) he was in.  Not to excuse the use of a shock collar, however -- there would have been much better ways to deal with the situation of his dog getting fat because his neighbors fed it when it wandered around.  Maybe starting with not letting it wander around.

But thanks for acknowledging that I posted the book as an example of an overall philosophy.  Yes, precisely.

I also agree that Gani seems to be an easy puppy.  And I fervently agree that I will not allow her the freedom to practice and entrench undesirable behaviors.  I've been very diligent to not let her persist with some things that she showed an interest in, like chewing on my boots.  Now my boots are in the closet, not by the front door.

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5 hours ago, Abroz said:

Maybe starting with not letting it wander around.

But, but, buuuuut . . .

That sure sounds like you're recommending confinement, doesn't it? :rolleyes:

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3 hours ago, highway61 said:

I haven't read the book so I'll take your word for it, thanks. Having said that, if you *don't* live in a very small cabin in the mountains, far removed even from the closest town, which is a very small town and allowing your dog to come and go from your house freely, what benefit is there to reading it? Seems like a such a tiny demographic to even relate to for most of us. Particularly those of us with Border Collie puppies.

I never said there was a benefit to reading it. I was saying it has no connection to raising a BC puppy; the OP seemed to imply that it did, buy posting a link to the book. I personally enjoyed reading it, though, as it is well written and is about a man's close relationship with a good and rather unusual dog.

2 hours ago, Abroz said:

Sometimes I wonder how wild animals manage to eat, drink, sleep, and fornicate without us telling them what to do and when to do it. :D

I am puzzled as to why you would even say this. This is a forum about dogs. Dogs are not remotely like wild animals, and cannot be viewed in the same way, and how you treat a dog has no relation to how wild animals do things. Of course you were being ironic or sarcastic or whatever, but what is the point of being that way? It doesn't help the conversation, which you say you want to have, along in any way.

 

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5 hours ago, Abroz said:

Gani is my 3rd border collie puppy.  I treated the others in much the same way as I'm treating her.  They turned out to be very good dogs who did not destroy things as they were growing up and who could be entrusted with dog doors etc for their entire long lives (15 and 17 years). 

Thanks for the further information. I'm glad your methods are working for you.

Ruth & Gibbs

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Sometimes I wonder how wild animals manage to eat, drink, sleep, and fornicate without us telling them what to do and when to do it. :D

Well, a lot of them don't manage to eat, drink, sleep and fornicate.  Dying of old age is the rare exception among wild animals. 

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5 hours ago, D'Elle said:

I never said there was a benefit to reading it. I was saying it has no connection to raising a BC puppy; the OP seemed to imply that it did, buy posting a link to the book. I personally enjoyed reading it, though, as it is well written and is about a man's close relationship with a good and rather unusual dog.

My bad, I should have been more clear, the question was directed at the OP who suggested we could learn how to raise a better pup from reading it.

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On 1/15/2019 at 8:56 PM, Abroz said:

I'm not overly sensitive. Just trying to have a different conversation.  One that doesn't always end with "pop 'em in the crate" as the only answer.

I've never seen anyone on these boards suggest "pop 'em in the crate as the only answer" but instead, some really great advise on how to use them to ours and our dogs advantage. There are plenty of threads here on crates and all their benefits, did you do a search and find that they mostly end with pop 'em in a crate as the solution?

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Abroz:

Like I said before, I do think the discussion you introduced is worthwhile. I think freedom to explore its environment is healthy for puppies. But again, for the pup's protection, I think a common sense approach is necessary. And when I say for the pup's protection, I don't just mean that limits to freedom such as a crate provides can prevent physical harm, but I also mean that some behavior problems can be prevented by using a crate to confine a puppy when you can't be there to monitor it closely.

I think the behavior of the dog can be a clue to how appropriately the crate has been introduced and used.  If a dog is comfortable enough with the crate to go in of its own accord, the crate has likely been used appropriately.

Mostly, I think problems that might arise from crating arise from its use in lieu of interaction with the puppy or dog. However,  different--or in some cases the same--problems can occur just as well from leaving the pup to its own devices. So, it's not crating, per se, that creates the problems, but rather lack of interaction. 

It sounds to me like your approach has worked well for your pups, and I think that is a credit to you as an dog owner. 

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8 hours ago, highway61 said:

I've never seen anyone on these boards suggest "pop 'em in the crate as the only answer" but instead, some really great advise on how to use them to ours and our dogs advantage. There are plenty of threads here on crates and all their benefits, did you do a search and find that they mostly end with pop 'em in a crate as the solution?

Probably referencing the 'my puppy is going nuts and losing their mind from over tired but won't/can't settle' questions.  To which the answer actually often IS put them in a crate with something to chew so they'll take a nap.   Because it's *good advice*.  I suppose an alternative would be 'put them on a leash' or otherwise restrict their ability to be wild until tired catches up and they pass out', but I think most people know that. 

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On 1/17/2019 at 5:18 PM, GentleLake said:

But, but, buuuuut . . .

That sure sounds like you're recommending confinement, doesn't it? :rolleyes:

Geez! I never said no confinement or no rules. I only postulated that more freedom is another training tool.  Maybe this forum doesn't work as well as it could because it's too easy to oversimplify and categorize complex ideas.

[Aside: kinda like politics nowadays]

I live in a very small town (~200 people, 35 dogs) surrounded by open space. The mores here are similar to those described in Merle"s Door. Some people let their dogs roam. I do not.  For me, it's dangerous for the dog and also rude to my neighbors to leave piles of poop around. Others disagree.

Underscores how there is a huge diversity of opinion on best ways to treat a dog.

Kinda like our present issue of crates. Whether, when, how long.

Maybe it's time to back up and assess our similarities. I think we all passionately love border collies in general and our own dogs more than anything else in the world. (Annoying and challenging as they may be at times.)  And we all endeavor to do the best we can.

I haven't had a puppy in 17 years. In my attempt to do my best by my new darling puppy, I've read everything I can find about how to best treat them and raise them. I listened to many voices and considered ideas that were new to me. 

For example, I bought a crate and have trained my puppy to enter it freely. Sometimes she even naps in there (without ny telling her to).

However I observed that for me and my puppy ithe crate does not seem necessary.  I found that very interesting because it contradicts the majority of advice I see on this site. I speculate that may be in part because I am inclined to offer more freedom as an overall approach . And I wonder whether it ll that approach might be something for people to consider.

Please don't make words like "wonder " and "speculate" into black n white pronouncements that I never made.
 

I just thought perhaps other people may want to consider alternative ideas.  Sorry if that is somehow threatening. :rolleyes:

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I liked your post and it is food for thought for sure. I didn’t read anything other than general discussions and ideas into your original post. All good from my perspective. Before I emigrated to Canada I didn’t even know crates were a thing except for airline transportation. Dogs slept in beds and if they were puppies they were confined to the puppy proofed kitchen. 

Now we do use a crate and I can see advantages but I also appreciate there are alternatives. 

Just as an aside, my 9 month old pup loves his crate but for some weeks now he’s decided that instead of happily heading into his crate at bedtime he takes up a spot on the sofa and goes very quiet in a kind of ‘I promise to be as good as gold’ way. Lol - i’m not quite ready for that so I lead him into the crate and he settles quickly :)

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1 hour ago, ShellyF said:

I liked your post and it is food for thought for sure. I didn’t read anything other than general discussions and ideas into your original post. All good from my perspective. Before I emigrated to Canada I didn’t even know crates were a thing except for airline transportation. Dogs slept in beds and if they were puppies they were confined to the puppy proofed kitchen. 

Now we do use a crate and I can see advantages but I also appreciate there are alternatives. 

Just as an aside, my 9 month old pup loves his crate but for some weeks now he’s decided that instead of happily heading into his crate at bedtime he takes up a spot on the sofa and goes very quiet in a kind of ‘I promise to be as good as gold’ way. Lol - i’m not quite ready for that so I lead him into the crate and he settles quickly :)

OMG. Thanks for thoughtful feedback!!!

I also never knew crates were a thing until recently. Yes, it was puppy - proofed kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms back in the last millennium. 

Drawbacks? Certainly. Similarities to crates? Of course. But also more room to move and generally just a short term solution to puppy teeth.

I've seen the same "good as gold" look from Gani! Also regarding the couch. She was banished from furniture for 5 weeks because of her broken leg. When I let her back last week, she made herself as tiny and invisible as possible.  Her eyes said I promise to be good as gold.

She was.

Just a question. What would happen if you gave your dear boy a chance to make good on his promise? If he doesn't deliver, crate as usual. But if he does, new level of trust and communication. No cost to try if you do it when you can supervise.

Thanks for example of what I have been talking about.

1547872282231_0113191444.jpg

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Sweet picture :)

Yes we frequently stretch his boundaries but sometimes have to scale back if he’s not ready. We gave him access to our dining room at several stages in his development and he wasn’t ready. Just recently he seems better able to cope with the temptations although we are always nearby. He still has to be in his crate if we go out or at night and if we are going to another part of the house to do chores. For example we have a sail to repair today and we can’t concentrate on that and adequately watch him. He would likely slink off and find some mischief haha! 

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My personal experience: as a young pup, I crated my dog when I couldn't supervise her. To me, the risk of her chewing/eating something dangerous was one I just wasn't willing to take. It had nothing to do with convenience; it was about safety. And on top of that, she learned to okay with the crate at a young age.

I already knew (based on her behavior when she WAS supervised) that my puppy would chew and eat things if I left her by herself uncrated. I never had any desire to put that theory to the test, and, understandably, neither do a lot of people. I don't see what "allowing her to make mistakes" would have taught her, other than "it's okay to chew on things when the hoomans aren't around." The saying "prevention is the best cure" exists for  a reason. 

Now that she's older, she's never crated in the house. At some point during the baby-chicken-and-turkey-chicks-season last year, her crate got taken out and used during the usual craziness of "holy crap they're growing so fast, we need all the crates we can get." And I never brought it back inside because A. I know it's " somewhere in the garage" but my lazy self hasn't gone and looked for it and B. I've no use for it 99% of the time. But when she was a puppy, I wouldn't have dreamed of leaving her alone without it. Just too much of a risk to me. Nonetheless, I keep meaning to dig it out and do some training with it because I don't want her to get un-crate-trained. As mentioned before, it's a valuable life skill, and one I want her to keep. 

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Allowing my dog more freedom in certain aspects of her life have really paid off, but wouldn't be doable if I had another puppy now. 
She has had a perfect recall since she was a puppy, because she was born at my mother's house and calling her over always meant play or food from the day she was born. She hardly had to go on a leash because my mother lives in the middle of nowhere. We could walk her off leash directly from the house, or pop her in the car and drive to off-leash forests.  So "come here" never meant anything that wasn't fun. As it was the beginning of summer most days the door to the garden was open and my mother was working outside, which also meant fun for the dog :) 

Now, we may have just gotten lucky that Molly is like this (and she has her problems in other areas ;) ), but I do believe the circumstances have helped a lot. 
Of course, were I to get a puppy now things would be very different. I live in an apartment building and life here is very different for a dog. Freedom has to be restricted to protect the dog.

Still, I think it is interesting to think about these kinds of things. 

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