Outsmarted by a potty-training puppy

Outsmarted by a potty-training puppy

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Q: I have a 4-month-old puppy and my boyfriend and I are in the process of crate training her. She is doing pretty good now, but my question is when we do take her out sometimes, she won’t go and we’ll stay out there for a good 10 minutes waiting. Then when we put her in the crate she’ll notice that we’re about to leave, so she’ll stick her little butt up against the crate and will use the bathroom outside of the crate while she’s still inside. Almost like she’s punishing us because we’re leaving. It drives us crazy because we don’t know what to do. HELP!

A: Sounds like you have a super smart little puppy! My first suggestion would be to try a different crate. Airline crates are the plastic hard shell crates. This will obviously prevent your puppy from scooting her butt up to the edge of the crate to go potty. However, you will need to get a crate small enough that your puppy is able to turn around, stand up and lay down. She should not be able to walk around the crate.

The reason you want a small crate is to aid in preventing your puppy from going to the bathroom inside the crate. Dogs are typically clean animals and do not want to lay in their own mess. Not being able to potty through the bars will make your puppy think twice. To reinforce this, feed your puppy all her meals in the crate. She will not want to potty where she eats. I would also suggest removing all her bedding when you leave her during the day or when she would typically go potty. If she sleeps in her crate at night, put her bedding back in her crate overnight.

Each time she goes into her crate when you are planning on leaving, make sure she has a super delicious treat. This treatment should be something that will last at least 30 minutes. I like to have at least 3 Kong’s on hand at any given time. I suggest filling them with plain yogurt and putting them in the freezer. When you are planning to leave, put her in the crate 5 minutes before you leave with a frozen yogurt Kong. The frozen treat is to distract your puppy while you prepare to leave and then during you’re leaving.

To help with her going potty outside, always take her to the exact same spot in the yard on a leash. Give her a treat every time she goes outside. Although this may be very difficult, never scold, yell or discipline your puppy if you get home and she has gone potty in her crate. I think part of the problem may be that your puppy has learned that going potty in/through the crate gets your attention. Lots of dogs prefer to have negative attention of scolding than no attention of all. Good luck and be patient.

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