@lustopher said in Puppy and confined spaces:
I really want to get him used to being left alone for 2-4 hours (there's always one of us home
Are you actually leaving him alone? If one of you is always home, then your exercise leans more to expecting him to leave you alone and entertain himself. That requires an entirely different approach.
If you want the pup to entertain himself, then ditch the cage inside the cage. Leave the crate in it's assigned location and put a comfy doggy bed in the room you will be working in. Allow the pup to choose where they will hang out while you are occupied doing other things, but do not isolate the pup in a different section of your home. Your dog will learn to just "chill" without the anxiety of wondering why they cannot be with you while you are home.
If you want the pup to be alone at home without supervision: consider putting baby gates up to block off the kitchen. This will be your pups designated area while you are gone. (Kitchen floors offer easier "oops" cleanup, plus it's typically where the pups water/food dishes are. So, the kitchen will satisfy two issues.) The next step is to get the pup used to being in that room while you are gone. Create a routine, let the pup watch you get your keys, put on your shoes, set up the baby gates, fill his water bowl, etc., etc. The pup will associate the actions with the idea that he will be alone. It provides him an outcome expectation and relieves stress. Then you actually both need to leave. Scruff his head, tell him you will be right back, and leave. Walk to the end of the sidewalk or street, start the car and drive around the block. But actually leave. Standing on the other side of the door won't work because your dog can hear and smell you. Do it over and over again for an afternoon. Your pup will get it and begin to understand that you come back.
Now you need to teach your pup what to watch for as an indication that he gets to go with you.... that's easy. If you pick up the leash, he gets to go. If you are not taking him, do not touch the leash.
I hope this makes life with your pup a little easier.