How do I get my puppy to stop peeing in her crate?
February 16, 2009 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Housebreaking is going great...except my puppy keeps peeing in her crate! Help!

Two weeks ago I brought home an 8 week old black lab puppy. So far, housebreaking has been going pretty well (she's begun to use the bell to signal when she needs to go outside). I am also using crate training, but am not having the best luck during the day.

Molly sleeps in her crate every night with no problems. She can hold it for about 4-6 hours in the night, cry when she needs to go out and then go right back to sleep, with no accidents in the crate. Daytime is a different story. She will not poop, but will pee in her crate almost every single time she's left alone.

I have a large wire crate with a divider. She has just enough room to turn around, a few toys, and a blanket covering the sides of the crate. Overall she isn't crazy about it but goes in without trouble and doesn't cry or bark anymore. I started with soft blankets for her to lay on, and kept coming home to wet blankets. I moved to a single towel, but after doing a ton of laundry and speaking with my vet, it was recommended that I remove the bedding and have her lay on the plastic bottom for a couple of days. I am now coming home to a wet puppy laying in her own pee on the plastic bottom. I leave work throughout the day so she is never alone for more than 2-3 hours at a time in the crate, which I think is an acceptable amount of time for her to hold it at 10 weeks (plus, she holds it for much longer at night). Each time I clean her crate with an ammonia free cleaner and use vinegar to remove the smell. I'm just not sure why she keeps peeing, and why she has no problem laying in it. I have been reading that a dog's natural instinct is to not lay where they soil, but this doesn't seem to be true for Molly. I've housebroken dogs with the crate method before and have never run into this problem.

If it's relevant, I think the breeder's home was kind of dirty, and I've read that this may have something to do with a dog not being too concerned with being clean. I should also point out, my vet has checked her out and she doesn't have a bladder infection or UTI. Basically, I just want to know if anyone else has experienced this. Is she just too young and will grow out of it? Does anyone have any other advice or tips to get her to hold it during the day? Please tell me this won't become a bad habit that I can't break!
posted by MsChanandlerBong to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
She'll grow out of it. You've done the right thing by checking for a UTI/vaginitis/bladder infection. Eliminate the possibility of infection/disease/illness.

IANAV, but we just went through the same thing by the way, with a giant schnauzer pup. I've never seen a dog urinate so much - it was like a tanker truck. From what I've been able to gather, the way the dogs are raised by the breeder during that first crucial period is, well, crucial. Our breeder, while a very kind and reputable fellow (this is the 2nd giant we've gotten from him), nonetheless runs a fairly loose ship when it comes to cleanliness.

We struggled with her for the first couple of months and then, poof, she just kind of figured it out all within about a week's time.

Be patient, don't scold unless you are right there (and I mean actually right there, seeing it come out as it happens), and remember that she's not yet fully developed anatomically and mentally. She's a puppy and accidents will happen. Be patient. Whatever you do, don't give up on her and she won't give up on you. Be patient.
posted by webhund at 7:36 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

When does she get water in the morning/during the day? Does she have a bowl with her in the crate?

It is okay to restrict water intake while she is housetraining - obviously not enough so that she gets dehydrated. For example, feed/water first thing when you get up, then outside to urinate (no water) just before you go to work, just a tiny bit of water right when you get home from lunch, and outside again just before you head back to work, etc.

We had to do this for our chocolate, who had the same problem yours does. It helped, and she did grow out of it. It's not a great solution; to this day she'll drink a whole bowl of water at breakfast and dinner, which is supposed to lead to a higher risk of bloat, and not touch it otherwise. But it was the only way we could get her housetrained.
posted by txvtchick at 8:07 PM on February 16, 2009

The day/night thing always trips people up. Put it this way: I can go to sleep all night for 8-9 hours without ever needing to pee. But during the day, even if I'm just sitting at my desk working, I'll need to pee a few times.

Puppy housetraining mantra: activity produces urine. Activity produces urine.

Sure, she's still in her crate, but dogs (like us) are generally more awake and active during the day - even in her crate.

Two options:
1) She'll outgrow it, I'm sure if you're doing everything else properly, she won't grow up to be that adult dog who pees in her crate. Even toddlers who wear diapers well past the other kids eventually use the toilet, ya know? All in good time. Patience! It's hard though, I know.

2) Some people make more of a little puppy contained area instead of the crate. This could include the crate, and a little space for a 'toilet', either with puppy training pads or even a box of sod - seriously. Then you train the dog to use that space when it needs to, and just hang out in the crate when it's not. I've never done this but some of the puppy books I have advocate its use. I know for sure it's in Ian Dunbar's 'Before and After Getting Your Puppy.'
posted by barnone at 8:55 PM on February 16, 2009

Two other things.

1) Were the puppies at that home in an area covered in newspapers? If so, they got used to wet/damp newspaper and it'll take a while longer to break.

2) In "Before and After Getting Your Puppy, Ian Dunbar says "Puppies have a 45-minute bladder capacity at three weeks of age, 75-minute capacity at eight weeks, 90-minute capacity at twelve weeks, and, two-hour capacity at eighteen weeks." So whether or not you feel 2-3 hours is an acceptable time for her age, it just isn't. And likely won't be for another 4-6 weeks.

I know - what to do until then? What books are you reading? Biscotti might come on and have other ideas, but I think she's recommended Ian Dunbar and Jean Donaldson before here. I've enjoyed both of their books on a variety of topics and find them exceedingly helpful, easy to read, reassuring, empathetic and smart.

Make sure if she does go in the crate that you do not freak out or snap the towel or yell or pull her out or anything. Puppies are exhausting, frustrating, so so into everything, and just so perfect in so many ways. If you find yourself frustrated just take a step back and take a breath and then resume - and enjoy this stage. Soon enough you'll have a hulking mass of fur wanting to go outside to run again :-)

Also, c'mon, photos for puppy questions!! Good luck.
posted by barnone at 9:23 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sorry - here's my last comment: if the crate is her proper size, of course she has to lay in it after going - there isn't anywhere else to lay down! So she's not peeing in order to lay in it - it's just happening, and then she doesn't have anywhere to go! So she probably does "have a problem" laying in it, but doesn't really have a choice right now. If she has to be alone 2-3 hours at a time, figure out another option - Dunbar's "long-term confinement" idea allows the dog to both have a crate/bed and a space for the bathroom. With enough room for both, yes, eventually the dog will choose to eliminate away from her bed/den.

Or a dog walker or friend.

10 weeks is young -- really young. Just remember that. She wants to do her best, but you have to set her up for success -- I can tell you really really want to do that for her, so I'd suggest picking up a few of these books on puppies and training.
posted by barnone at 9:30 PM on February 16, 2009

She will not eliminate where she eats, so scatter her kibble on the floor of the crate at mealtimes. This almost always magically fixes the problem within just a couple of days. Good luck!
posted by HotToddy at 9:33 PM on February 16, 2009

Until I knew my puppy could hold it during the day (for some reason they can always hold it at night), I used a playpen for her. I set the whole thing on a heavy-duty tarp in my family room. It was just big enough for her crate (with the crate door open) a little walkway, and some puppy pads. She would leave the crate to pee on the pads and then go back to her crate to play/sleep. Eventually I transitioned her to crate-only during my work day and at night.

By the way, I know that you're only supposed to train them to go outside or on pads, but not both because it just confuses them. I have not had this problem with my dogs. They get a "good girl" for going outside or using the pads, and they don't seem too confused. It's nice to have an indoor option when it's rainy and muddy out. Of course, mine are Cocker Spaniels, so I don't have as much to clean up as the parents of larger dogs.
posted by dogmom at 6:30 AM on February 17, 2009

You marked the answer that basically says "she'll grow out if it." I just hope that you don't make her lay in her pee for 2-3 hours at a time until then. Yes, she will grow out of it. But until then, there are other solutions so you're both not miserable.
posted by barnone at 10:50 AM on February 17, 2009

No, I am not making her lay in her pee. I've removed the divider and have placed puppy pads in the rear of the crate, so she has a large area to lay down and play in, and another area to eliminate in. Since she was paper trained at the breeder's, she has had no problem going on the pads. I don't like having to spend the money, but it's a lot easier than having to bathe her or do a ton of laundry every day! In a few weeks I am going to try using the divider again and see if we have better luck.
posted by MsChanandlerBong at 5:46 AM on February 19, 2009

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