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Archived Message

Backyard vs crate
by Susan Young
Backyard vs crate I am thinking about getting a maltese puppy and have a few questions for you experienced owners. My biggest concern is with the issue of crate training. I know I would need to be able to come home from work to let the dog out of the crate to go to the bathroom at some point before the end of the day. That isn't very likely with my job. I bought a house with a backyard just for the reason of getting a dog. But now I wonder how I potty train the dog to not go when it is in the house if it spends all weekdays outside. Any suggestions? I am not worried about the safety of the dog while in the yard. It is fenced and has held many dogs in the past. It was built for the prior owners dog - it even has a large dog pen on one side of the house! So, my question is: What do I do with my puppy from 8-5 while I am at work? I know people say they love the crate - but there is a large yard there just begging for a puppy! I would also welcome any advice anyone has for caring and training a dog when you work full time and the dog will be alone during the week. I would eventually like the dog to have the run of the house and the yard (I have a doggie door too) while I am at work without having to worry about it getting into trouble or getting hurt.Thanks for the help!


Hi Susan, I would keep the dog inside the house while you are at work. I also have a fenced in backyard that my dog's can play in in the spring, summer, and fall. When my dog's go outside I am outside with them. I would never leave them unattended for even 1 second! If you are planning on getting a dog and leaving him/her in the backyard from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., I think it would be very unsafe for that poor baby. What if he or she gets stung by a bee and goes into anaphylactic shock? Or, what if someone steals your dog? So many things can happen. Why not buy a baby gate and keep the dog confined to your kitchen with a wee wee pad while you are at work? Keeping the dog in a crate for all those hours is not a good idea either. If I were you I would buy some wee-wee pads and a baby gate and go that route. Good Luck!

Maltese do not make good yard dogs and should never be left in a yard unsupervised. They are very small and easily hurt or stolen. They are also quite beautiful and expensive, so they are a prime target for theives. Not to mention the fact that they are very social animals that form strong attachments to their families. When left alone for long periods with nothing to do (dogs don't much play by themselves) they tend to develop bad habits like barking, howling, chewing, and digging. These activities can really annoy your neighbors, and in some areas there are nuisance barking laws. There are just so many dangers out there for such small dogs, it isn't fair to keep them like that. As for crating all day, it is possible if you can find a petsitter or neighbor to walk the puppy during the day. Eventually it could have run of the house, but I would never let a Maltese in the yard unsupervised, so keep the dog door shut when you aren't home.

Honestly, I don't recommend you get any sort of puppy. You'd be better off with an adult dog -- two would be better as they can hopefully provide company for eachother while your gone all day (of course there are disadvantages there too). If you feel strongly about the yard/indoor-outdoor scenario, I'd say a medium to large sized dog would be better as they are more able to defend themselves and less likely to get hurt (although, there are still risks whenever you have a dog alone in a yard). A good shelter or breed rescue can help find the right dog/dogs for you. I know it is hard to hear, but you need to be realistic about exactly what you are looking for in a pet and what you have to offer that animal. The fact that you are asking questions before buying is a good sign. I hope you will seriously consider your choices before setting yourself and the pup up for failure. Maybe a nice cat or two would be better for you at this point in your life. I had cats when I worked a lot and had no one to share responsibility with, and they are great pets. Good luck whatever you choose, but please, don't leave your Maltese outside alone!

Susan, These babies aren't really mean't to be outside. Maybe you should consider getting a sturdier type dog? If you get a Maltese, then maybe crate, (although I don't crate but many do), or give the pup run of the kitchen or somewhere else suitable to be cleaned easily. Maltese babies just aren't good yard dogs. My opinion anyway.
Robin K.
Susan, I think a small dog shouldn't be outside all the time, unless you live in a mild climate. Have you considered paper training? I don't like crates for all day. I think it's better to confine them to a small room. If you get a young pup they can't wait all day and if you confine them to a room, they can get a little exercise, drink, and potty if they have to. I hope you'll consider a small, uncarpeted room instead of a crate. Crates have their place but not for all day. I couldn't be all day without a bathroom.
Susan, Scroll down to the Training" discussion topic by Andrea. I think you'll find it helpful.
So glad that you have discovered this wonderful site and the Maltese breed. However, a Maltese is not a good candidate to be left alone in the backyard all day. The crate would be a much better alternative. Especially if you are considering a puppy. If you read through the postings and all the other information on this site you will find many good suggestions for crate training/housebreaking and general care. Many Maltese owners work all day, most leave their dog confined to a small space in the home or in a crate - there are so many possible dangers lurking in the home for an unsupervised little one. If you are set on having a dog live in your backyard while you are not home, then I don't think A Maltese is the dog for you. A crate pprovides the dog with a 'safe spot' or 'den' of his own, they don't like to soil their den and are capable of holding their bladder for quite a few hours. Confinement to a kitchen or bathroom, or even a pen indoors is your next alternative. A romp in the backyard is a good thing, but these are definitely indoor dogs.
Leslie R
Maltese are NOT outside dogs. Perhaps you should consider a different breed to go with your yard that is begging for a dog!
A Concerned Maltese Lover
First of all, Maltese are not outdoor dogs! They are not meant to be outside for extended periods. All four of mine love to go outdoors but they are always supervised, within a fenced area and only out for short periods. They are trained to go outside to potty and also inside on paper. Crate training is best but I have no idea how you accomplish that when you are working outside the home. (Libby how about that?) I have always crate trained easily because I work at home. The best suggestion would be to confine the puppy to a small room area where there is no danger and it is puppy proof... like a small bathroom or laundry room. Put the puppy food, water and bed on one end and papers at another end. You should check at least once a day or have someone else check that the puppy has clean papers and plenty of water (in the event it drinks it all or upsets the bowl.) It may also need to be fed at noon. On the weekends and at night confine the puppy to a crate and let it out every hour to go. Eventually the puppy will not mess the crate or his bed area and can be tested in small doses in the house. It is the most important part of raising a puppy. It is a very demanding task but well worth it in the end. There are videos and advice on this site. You will get some good advice here also as it is an excellent place for information on Maltese. Please do not keep your puppy outdoors while you work. Besides not being rugged outdoor dogs they could be stolen , hurt or get into trouble. If you want a dog for the outdoors get another type of dog suited for that. Have you thought about adopting and older dog that is already trained and suited for the outdoors? Perhaps that would be your solution. Good Luck
Susan,I got my Buster in Nov 97 at 14 weeks old. He is now 8 months old. I did not crate train him. I put him in our big master bathroom during the day with his bed, toys and newspapers. Within a month he quit using the papers and held it all day. I go to work at 6:00 a.m. and get home around 5:00pm or 6:00pm. He does fine. I had left the papers down for awhile but he never used them but to shred them....:) I take him out 3 times before I leave in the morning and numerous times in the evening. He has learned so quick. He will sit and shake already. As far as leaving them outside, I personally would never do that. The Maltese is not an outside dog. But that's just my opinion. Good Luck.
Libby & Buster
I had the same concerns when I got Lucy several months ago. Since my husband and I have different work schedules, it only left two days a week that Lucy would need to be confined for longer periods of time. We did use the crate to train her when we first brought her home, but did end up giving her her own space in the garage (actually 1/2 of the garage) for the days that she was left alone. I did not want to have her cooped up in a crate for 3-4 hours at a time. I did not feel that was anywhere near fair. She has adapted well and prefers to use her garage papers rather than her house papers which works out real well. We just leave a door cracked for her and she romps between her outdoor house and her indoor house. We do not allow her on any grass mainly because of fleas and possible grass stains since she does spend 100% of time in the house when either John or I are home.
Susan: I think everyone will agree with me when I say, "a Maltese is not an outside dog". Our girls sleep with us and just going for their daily walks their little feet get so dirty they need bathes weekly and sometimes a foot bath between time. I can't picture either one of my girls living in the backyard and I live in FL. They don't like cold or heat, at all. Their fur isn't made for living outside. I used a crate to train, however, I'm retired. Shayna used a Puppy John if she can't wait for me to get home. Hopefully someone else can answer your questions about training when you work. My girls are fortunate to have me when I'm off the golf course. Good luck and I hope you think this through carefully.
I'm sorry, but I think a Maltese needs more companionship than you are able to offer at this time. If there is a breed of dog that doesn't need to be with people as much, you might consider a different breed. I really wouldn't like to see a maltese puppy left in a back yard all day because they are so little and so smart that they may find a way out of the yard and wander off or be enjured by another animal or a fall or by eating something unhealthy. Maybe if you could get two dogs instead of one and had a really safe yard, then two maltese may be happier in a back yard all day.
Suzi Q.
Hi Susan - congratulations on your good taste in deciding to get a maltese. We are at work/Uni all day and were worried that one puppy would be lonely, so we got 2 - a decision we have never regretted. Our beasties have the run of (most of) the house while we're out, and supervised access to the backyard while we're home (one of our gates is only temporary) but eventually will be able to free range around the house and yard. We've never crated them. I know I'm in a minority here, but I just couldn't do it. When we first got them we were in the process of moving house, so we kept them in a baby's playpen with plastic garden trellis threaded through the bars so that they couldn't escape, and a large offcut of viny flooring underneath to protect the floor. Then we gated off the sunroom in the new house, keeping the vinyl offcut down to protect the wooden floor, until we were sure of their paper training - we used unprinted newsprint paper on top of a homemade "puppy john", and luckily the breeder had already started paper-training them. (Check the archives on the home page - there should be lots of tips on paper-training.) Now they have the run of the sunroom, dining, kitchen and hall. When they are outside they will "go" on the grass, in the same spot, and when they are inside they use the paper. So I suggest that you try paper-training your puppy indoors before letting him have the run of the yard, rather than doing it the other way round. Even if you live in a very warm climate (we are in Australia) I wouldn't leave a maltese ouside all day without access to the house - not just because they are "indoor" dogs but also there is the risk of having them stolen. And do think about getting 2 if you can, that way they won't be lonely while you're at work. Good luck!
Deanna (Moose & Squirrel)
You probably will get a lot of post on this one..PLEASE think this over very carefully, DO NOT get a maltese and stick him in the yard, they are not outside dogs, they are lap doggies, take one home and put it on a pillow, they are VERY people oriented ,social critters they do not like to be left alone, you will NOT ever get one trained if you take it home at a very young age, ( on a weekend) and take off on it on Monday morning at 7 and not get home till 6, they are not stuffed toys. Crating one for that long is cruelty to animals, at least put it in the kitchen or a bright, light bathroom with a gate, leave plenty of fresh water and food and newspaper potty , a radio or tv for company . Have you considered a cat ? Or perhaps just a nice yard dog instead ? A maltese is not for everyone, they are a very high maintenance dog, need daily brushing, eye , ear and nail care and bathing twice a month ( always blow-dry ) Please reconsider your options! I care !
Susan, I read your post at work today and planned on coming home tonight to answer it because I really wanted to be able to take the time to state my case about leaving a maltese outside all day. Wow, all us maltese lovers have been busy today and everything I wanted to say got posted already. Please, please do not leave your maltese outside. There are many better alternatives and for all the reasons stated above. Good luck with whatever you decide to do. I hope you still get a maltese because there is no better dog to have. Good luck.
I agree with most of these posts. A Maltese is not a yard dog. Some leave theirs all day successfully, BUT a Maltese is a high maintenence, attention demanding, loving little dog designed to keep someone company. I do not think that the Maltese is a good choice for you. I would choose another breed.
April B.
This was also a concern of mine I only work a couple of days a week but when I do I am gone for 12 hours. My solution was to get 2 malteses to keep each other company and something called a puppy romper. It is a crate with a raised floor so they can pee on the grated floor and it goes down through the bottom to papers keeping my little beauties dry, and comfortable. I also put a bed in there and there is plenty of room to move around. Of course when I,m home they have the run of the house!!! you can purchace one through most of the popular mail order dog catalogs.
A Maltese should never be left outside alone. These are not outside dogs. They need a lot of love, care and attention. They could be hurt so easily outside. Another animal might get into the yard and hurt it or someone might steal it. I really do not think any dog is safe left outside all day. There are so many crazy people, he could be stolen and sold for experimental purposes. There are just too many things that could happen. Would you leave a small child in a yard all day unsupervised? These little ones are so dependant on you.
Susan, first of all let me commend you for caring enough to come to this website to research your question!! Good for you!

I must concur that leaving a maltese outside all day is not the best way to go. Working,however, does not have to stop you from experiencing the joy of maltese mommyhood! I leave at 6:30 a.m. and don't return until 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. Although my husband is in sales and works out of a home office, he travels a lot so the girls are left on their own a lot! I left my first maltese alone locked in my master bathroom (I was hesitant about using a crate also)and she dug a large hole in my carpet! I finally had to go the way of a crate and it's worked out just great. Shelby didn't like it at first but she does fine now. Nikki is my second maltese that I brought home 2 months after my first. She also didn't like the crate at first, but also adjusted fine. Shelby will go in there on here own when she wants to "get away from it all!" It's her little cave. Both girls expect to go to their crate when I leave for work. I do put an item of my clothing in their crates as well as a small toy as it seems to be a comfort to them.

I agree that it's probably best for you to get an adult as opposed to a puppy. I don't think a puppy could go without pottying all day. Shelby was 2 1/2 years and Nikki 5 years when I got them and they're a true joy! Good luck - I hope you choose this wonderful breed! They are soooo special!
Sandy (Shelby & Nikki)

I am a little surprised that nobody has mentioned a doggy door. For 15 years with our previous Maltese, Waggidee Ann, and with our new puppy, Sassy, we have provided access to the back yard through a doggy door. It is located so that only a portion of the house is available to her when we are gone. She loves the outdoors in nice weather, and always goes out to potty in any weather (it very seldowm snows in Oregon). The yard is fenced and secure. Some replies said Maltese are not outdoor dogs, but I disagree. My experience is that they love the fresh air and sunshine, and I think it is a healthy situation. Doggy doors are easy to install and dogs love them.

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