Niko is 10 months old now and we've been crating him whenever he is left alone at home. We were on the fence about letting him run loose after reading about the damage that Shibas can do when left alone. Namely, stories of the mischievous Kenji! We did some trial runs by leaving Niko out and about when we ran errands for an hour at a time. We usually found Niko on his chair looking out the window or by the door and no damage. It was like he didn't know what to do with all the freedom. Filled with guilt, uncertainty, and distrust, Ed set off on a project. He bought pieces of wood, found an old door, his toolbox, and voila -- Niko's very own playroom.
Next to the bottom of the ramp is Niko's crate (not pictured), which remains open as a familiar resting place. The platform/roof of the doghouse is high enough for Niko to look out the window. Since introducing Niko to this set up, we made a few modifications, such as lowering the steepness of the ramp. Ed also had to apply duct tape for better traction on the ramp. I gladly donated my college flannel bedsheets for the inside of Niko's house and my old comforter for the roof.
On the first day, Niko was apprehensive about going up the ramp. I had to lead him up with peanut butter. The inside of the house is very cozy (I can sit comfortably in there) and I love hiding in there for Niko to find me. It's now been a week and Niko is very comfortable with his playroom. He goes up and down the ramp on his own and on command for a treat. It's neat to hear him go up the ramp when we're out in the living room and when we go to check on him, he's sitting and looking out the window.
So far, the damage is minimal and worth it. Part of the wood on the base is chewed on, which was expected. Unfortunately, we found teeth marks on the window sill. We moved the structure a few inches away from the window and it seems to have deterred additional damage. Niko appears to be happier and he is less hyper when we come home. With the extra room to stretch his legs and chase his tail during the day, Niko gets tired earlier in the night which we are thankful for. All in all, the playroom is a great solution to a Shiba's need for activity.