Now that we are down to two puppies, it was time to put away the whelping box. I’m not quite ready to have the puppies have free reign in the house, though, so I had to come up with something that would contain them. They were so used to having constant access to the dog door and thus the little fenced yard that we made for them, so I definitely wanted some way for them to be able to use it.
The “problem” with the dog door that we are using is that it fits into a window not a door, so it’s raised up high. Disa, Gaela and Tara don’t have a problem with that, of course, but they are all grown up and quite agile. The puppies would need steps of some sort, and I wasn’t sure how to arrange that.
We’d had the whelping box up on milk crates to bring it to the right level, so I just duplicated that, and it is working like a charm. I took the side of the crate next to the window and lowered it so that that end of the crate is open, and attached it to the window sill. We created stairs on the other end of the crate with milk crates, and after a couple of days of practice, the puppies fly up and down them like little champs. So at bedtime, I lock the crate opening so that they can’t have access to the living room, but they can still go outside as needed.
During the day when we are around, we keep it open, and they go in and out as they want. I often find them taking a nap in it, both of them or just one of them, and Tara often joins them. Giving them access to the outside has helped so much with potty training that I just can’t imagine not having it. We do still have the bells on the doorknob to the door in the living room that goes out to the same little fenced yard, but they hardly ever ask to be let out that way, preferring instead to just use the dog door.
The set up that we have outside looks quite complex, but it’s working out well. We built a little deck coming off of that window with some pressure treated lumber, and lined it with chicken wire, and then built a very long ramp down to the ground. We figured stairs or steps were going to be too difficult for young puppies, so a ramp was less scary, and it worked out really well. It took them only a few days to get the hang of it, and by the time they were about 5 weeks old, they were running down it. Now, at 10 weeks old, Stina and Elska jump off the top, so we should be able to replace the ramp with steps if we get around to it. The ramp really is awkwardly in the way for the people who use that porch, but liveable.