Well I am having Natasha sleep in her crate over night, which is working very well. She wakes up at about 6:30-7am, which is when we get up anyway, and we let her outside to do her business, then she eats and we play a little before we have to go to work.
Here's the question. I have a decent sized backyard but I keep getting the impression that I should keep her in her crate while we are at work. On a normal day this is from about 9am 'til 5pm, with one of us coming home for lunch and letting her out maybe 2 times a week. If I had her outside then I would have a house or something for her out there to lay in, there would be food, she could use the restroom, and she could play around in the yard all she wants.
I really need to figure this one out so we can get some stability and structure going.
Thanks to all.
It's great that you have a large yard for Natasha. I, personally, don't like leaving them in a yard unsupervised. They get bored, bark, and often get destructive as a result, usually chewing things up that you never imagined they would or could. This can be bad for you, your neighbors, and could be a danger to Natasha. Not to mention the possibility of her escaping (depending on your fence) or others seeing her outside. I've heard of neighborhood children causing problems, other animals, stealing of dogs, and all kinds of issues.
As long as they get good exercise before you leave and when you come home, don't feel badly about her being in her crate during the day. Natasha will adjust to the routine.
I second that
I agree with the crate training. Jeb still stays in his crate all day when we are at work. I don't leave him longer than 10-11 hours. I came home at lunch to let him out until he was about 6 months old. Now he stays all day. I play with him in the morning before I go to work and gets a good walk and play in the evening and is very well adjusted. I would also recommend as much socialization as you can give him. People of all ages, colors, clothing (caps, uniforms,etc.). Jeb took a puppy class a when he was 12 weeks old. They always gave the pups about 10 minutes in the beginning to play and socialize. It's one thing we've done better with him than our first lab. He is very outgoing.
Bayou Bay's Jeb's Trouble Too, RN, CGC
Most fences are not secure when you're away and a Lab is bored. They can dig a hole under them in about 15 minutes and go off exploring the world.
How old is Natasha? How much vigorous daily exercise does she get?
The general rule of thumb that fits many Labs is 5 minutes for each month of age up to a year old. Then the 60 minutes a day.
If you do that, your Lab will doze and rest the remainder of the day but be ready for exercise when you do get home.
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
Just wanted to expand on my crate issues with Natasha.
The last two days she has woken at 6 and 5am, respectively, and will whine and howl and bark until one of us goes downstairs and lets her out. You would think she would be hungry or needed to go to the bathroom but no, all she does is follow us around and then at the last possible minute she wants to eat or play or use the bathroom.
I am thinking just continued structure will rectify this, but will anything else?
Are you letting Natasha out the minute you get up? If so, she may be 'dictating' to you on when SHE wants to get out. Knows that when she barks/howls, etc... you rush to let her out first thing. I don't know how old she is, or how many hours she's been in the crate but if you're sure she doesn't need to use the bathroom, which it sounds like (i.e. you aired her well the previous night, limited water past a certain hour, and hasn't been crated for an unreasonable amount of time for her age) I would try the following: you could go ahead and get up maybe, but don't let her out right away. Ignore her until she's quiet in her crate, and YOU are ready to let her out. Don't let her dictate. While you want to keep her in a general routine, you want her to learn to be a bit flexible, and that YOU are the one
in control. If she's barking/howling just to get you out of bed, then I wouldn't get up and go downstairs until you normally do. Even then, don't always let her out immediately. Vary it. Waiting even 5 minutes to let her out can make a difference. Same thing when you get home from being away. Don't ALWAYS let her out the minute you walk in. Wait until you're ready, and she'll learn that it's on your terms. It takes some time and patience, but you're doing just fine.
Also, when you take her out to do her business, stand in one spot/don't play with her, pet her, etc... until she does her business. (I assume you use a term for it, like go potty) Praise her when she does and THEN you can pet her, play, etc... It's helpful when traveling when you can air them quickly and on command.
Just my .02