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Q: I just got a puppy 6-8 wks old, Chow/Shepard mix. We are planning on crate training... as we both work full-time, we don`t want to leave him in the crate all day and it is too cold right now to be outside. Is it okay to keep him in a small room (bathroom) in the meantime?
A: I think you have done a good job of trying to sort out the issues facing you in trying to having a puppy when you and your spouse or friend are gone all day. This is going to be very hard on a pup, first of all because it will be very lonely.
Let me offer some approaches to consider. First, a crate should always be a positive place a pup wants to be, like its den, not a prison. So you want to begin now to introduce the pup to the crate -- with a toy or some food -- for short periods while you are at home. Close the door for short periods, leave it open at other times.
Second, begin housetraining right away. After your pup has eaten, take it outside soon for a little walk and to do its business. Praise the pup for doing its business outside with you there. Since you are gone all day, you will need to feed the pup even before you eat in the morning, so you can take it out for that short walk and business before you leave. You want the pup to learn to do its business, even if a piddle, every time you go out together.
Third, if you decide to use the bathroom to contain the pup during the day, make sure that there are no dangerous chemicals in the cupboard under the sink. A bored puppy will learn to explore everything, using its nose to open cabinets and its teeth to chew plastic bottles of sprays and cleaners. You might consider placing the crate in that bathroom during the day, so the pup has its "den" there for sleeping, even if it is open.
Fourth, other people would get a very large crate and put a blanket at one end for sleeping and newspaper at the other end for the pup to do its business. You may have to do something like this if the puppy is bored and begins to chew on cabinets etc. Again, make sure to provide the pup with toys and safe items for chewing while you are gone.
Finally, is there any way that one of you can come home at noon each day to let the pup out, provide it some quick exercise and a chance to relieve itself outside, which is what you want? Your pup will learn better lessons and you'll have a closer, happier relationship. It really is never fair to leave a dog for eight or nine hours without a way to relieve itself.