It's official; Elsa is out of her pen at night now and sometimes when we go out. Taking this huge step is a leap of faith. Luke was my youngest to get out of his crate at night at six months of age and for that we simply opened the crate at night. He slept in there for a while and then slowly transitioned to one of the dog beds in the bedroom until we finally took the crate away. Elsa has been out of her crate for sometime; she throws her body around so much at night that she kept us awake by banging on the sides. She also is not one to sleep curled up so I wanted her to have more room.
When we moved from CA to CT we put the crate away and switched to an ex-pen at night giving her more room to move around. While I was in Connecticut I decided to give her free run a couple of times when I went to the gym or for quick errand runs during the day. She was always there at the front door when I returned, sometimes sleeping. We had planned on breaking her ex-pen down in CT but never got around to it so on our trip we packed up the ex-pen and put it on the moving truck, hoping that everything would work out on our trip without it.
The first night was rough; we'd asked for a king sized bed and got a queen. Being that Elsa is the type that has to be either touching or right on top of someone it made for little sleep. The next night I decided to keep her off the bed; I actually thought that it might be an all night struggle but when I told her "OFF," firmly she stayed off to my amazement. In the morning she asked to get up by sitting and awaiting her "okay." What a great girl.
So that was the beginning of the end of the ex-pen. She was back in it for one more night for our first night home simply because there was no where else for her to sleep; the house was pretty much stacked high with boxes. But for several nights now she is out of the pen and doing great. We headed out early this morning to workout at the gym and left her with free run of the house. We returned to the house intact and I believe she had gone back to bed with Luke while she waited for us.
The step has to be taken at some point and sometimes doing it earlier than later is a better decision. That said it all depends on the dog; sometimes they just never prove themselves to be trustworthy out of a containment. But Elsa has so she is a free sleeper now, at least at night. Of course if I am going out for any length of time she will still be in her ex-pen but that too will end as we stretch the trial time more and more. My little girl is growing up.