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Discussion Starter #1
Hello. Three weeks ago, my husband and I adopted a six-year-old male Maltese into our previously cat/human-only family. So far, we couldn't be happier with the decision. At first, Shuggie had accidents when we left the house, but we got a nice big crate for him, and he's been doing fine.

As much as I understand that dogs love their crates and that's their private spot, I am wondering if this solution needs to be a permanent one. Both of our two cats (ages 15 and 3) come and go as they please through the cat door, and Shuggie seems curious about their comings and goings. Our backyard is small, shaded and fenced in, and I really think it would be ideal if we could train him to hop in and out whenever he wants to go outside to potty or just to romp around with the cats.

I've tried to show him how it works, but he doesn't quite seem to get it yet. Does anyone have any experience with training Maltese to use a doggy door? Is there any reason that I SHOULDN'T consider this an option for Shuggie?

I welcome any feedback you may have. Thanks!
 

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Honestly, it's not safe for a Maltese to have free-reign of going inside & outside as they please. There have been several stories here on Spoiled Maltese in the past where their dog has been snatched up by other animals, even in a fenced yard. There are so many dangers that can lurk in your yard even with a fence, such as poisonous plants (there are a LOT...even bark is poisonous to them), insects that can sting or bite them, other animals getting into your yard and your Maltese can't escape, and also there are cruel people who poison pets that are in fenced yards (it happens all the time).

Another reason not to use a doggy door is because your dog isn't "really" potty trained. What happens if you take your dog to someone else's house? What about if you're in a hotel, etc? What about in the winter time when it may be snowing and your dog chooses not to go out on his own? There are lots of reasons, really.
 

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Honestly, it's not safe for a Maltese to have free-reign of going inside & outside as they please. There have been several stories here on Spoiled Maltese in the past where their dog has been snatched up by other animals, even in a fenced yard. There are so many dangers that can lurk in your yard even with a fence, such as poisonous plants (there are a LOT...even bark is poisonous to them), insects that can sting or bite them, other animals getting into your yard and your Maltese can't escape, and also there are cruel people who poison pets that are in fenced yards (it happens all the time).

Another reason not to use a doggy door is because your dog isn't "really" potty trained. What happens if you take your dog to someone else's house? What about if you're in a hotel, etc? What about in the winter time when it may be snowing and your dog chooses not to go out on his own? There are lots of reasons, really.
I agree. Maltese are prey to coyotes, hawks, etc.

I have also heard heartbreaking stories of Maltese and other toy breed dogs being stolen from their own backyard.
 

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Thank you both for your feedback. I had not even thought of someone stealing or even harming our little guy! And, although I'm in fairly urban area (and the cats have never had problems with predators), I hadn't thought about how defenseless Shuggie would be when faced with a hawk or a snake or something.

So, if the doggy door isn't a good option, is crating the best thing to do on a long-term basis -- or will I eventually be able to leave the crate open so he can still go play (indoors) with the cats when he's up for it? (I know, of course, that all dogs are different, but I didn't know if most people use crates as a temporary measure or a permanent one.)

Thanks so much for your insight! I can tell already that I'll be a much better mom by visiting this site!
 

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Once he is potty trained, you can wean off the crate. Unless you have a dog with a major, long marking history or behavior issues when left (such as chewing apart your house), the crate is a tool while you potty train.
 

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Any time we leave the house, we crate the dogs. We choose to do it for their own safety, not because we're worried about them thrashing the house, etc...although I know London would probably bark at things outside the whole time if she weren't crated, and she would also potty on the floor if she hadn't gone recently...whereas Preston would behave wonderfully in all departments. :)

We don't leave the dogs in their crates for longer than 4hrs at a time, but if you need to be gone longer than that you may want to consider getting an exercise pen (x-pen) for your pup. It would give him a larger area than a crate, where you could put his food/water, bed & toys and a potty pad if you decide to do indoor training.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks to everyone for their help. We'll continue to crate for a few weeks and then try weaning. He does love his crate (which has enough room for a sleeping area, a play area and a food/water area), so we might just stick with it. We'll just play it by ear.
 
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