Good Chicken!
January 21, 2012 2:21 PM   Subscribe

We got a new puppy! Housebreaking questions inside.

We've had Chicken, a two month old Yorkie terrier, for about a week and have started housebreaking/crate training her. We're introducing the crate to her slowly and taking her outside several times a day - after eating, naps and when she shows behavior of needing to go - to do her thing. She gets a lot of praise and a treat when she goes outside, and a stern NO! when she goes inside. But we think she's tricking us when we go outside. If she starts to pee inside we say NO! and scoop her up to go outside immediately. Many times she'll just squat for a few seconds and then come up for a treat. I don't know if she's just wanting the treat or if she's really trying to go because she knows she should since we're outside. Do I reward her even for the fake squat? Or should I make sure she's actually peed or pooped before rewarding her? Any other advice, tips, suggestions or recommendations on housebreaking/crate training would be appreciated.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Here is the thing about Yorkies, they are notoriously difficult to housetrain. Many Yorkie owners just buy wee-wee pads and give up on housetraining all together. It took me a little over a year of constant supervision with mine to finally get to the point where I would call him housetrained. In the end you will be happy you put in the effort but do not feel like a failure if it takes longer than all your friends' dogs took. Here are a couple things that worked for me.

1. No treats. He started doing exactly the same thing yours is doing. Praise and hugs when he went outside, very angry voices when he went inside.

2. Crate training. He did go in his crate a couple times but it was better.

3. A VERY strict walking schedule. We walked at 7am, 12pm, 5pm, 9pm, 2am. Every single day for about 8 months, after that I started cutting out the 2am walk. He still walks 4 times per day (no yard) but I can now fudge those walks up to about 2 hours before he starts complaining. Honestly, I think this was the biggest help of anything.

4. In the early days, if he ever sat or stood near the door we went out, just to reinforce the "telling" behavior, once the schedule was really nailed down this wasn't as necessary.

5. He was either in the crate or in my sight line. All. The. Time. He came to the bathroom with me, ok? Yeah, I knew exactly where he was at every moment. And he knew it too, he wouldn't pee if I was watching him, only if I took my eyes off of him.

Seriously, good luck. Don't give up! I'm sooooo happy I stuck to it and we got through the process but it wasn't pleasant. I know I was keeping Nature's Miracle in business there for a while. I felt like a failure when my roommate housetrained her puppy in about 2 weeks and you will too but just understand that Yorkies are hard. It isn't you, it isn't even your particular dog. Yorkies are just hard.
posted by magnetsphere at 3:03 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the helpful info. How did you introduce the crate to him? I've read that you have to go about it very slowly otherwise they will hate the crate forever. We put her in for meals and leave her in for a few minutes each time after she's done. The goal is to be able to leave her in there for 10 minutes after she's done without any whining before we start putting her in at different times of the day and leaving her alone for a few minutes (according to the Humane Society Web site). At this rate it will take months. I like the idea of regularly scheduled walks but it seems like it's too soon for that.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 3:46 PM on January 21, 2012

Best answer: I honestly can't remember the process of crate training, probably because I didn't actually do it. My roommate had a (very smart) dog and she loved the crate. We would say "crate" Zoe - her dog - would go in and Simon - my dog - would just follow her. I think I probably lucked out there. Without her, he doesn't love the crate so maybe he isn't actually, technically crate trained. We live alone now and I just leave him out because he cries in the crate by himself.

I don't think it is too early for a schedule, but it it probably too early for just the schedule. Definitely supplement with other outside times if she is making the go out sounds/actions. I really wish that I had put him on the schedule earlier (he was about 5 months when I got him, it was probably 2 months after that when I really got strict about the schedule) because he truly thrives on it.

Oh, one other thing about crate training is that I always let him out of the crate and immediately took him outside. That way (at least I felt) while he was in the crate he would know that as soon as I got home he was going outside, he didn't need to go in the crate.
posted by magnetsphere at 3:57 PM on January 21, 2012

He does retreat to the crate if he wants the cat to stop bugging him or something so I think he still thinks of it as "his safe space."
posted by magnetsphere at 3:59 PM on January 21, 2012

Does Chicken stay in the crate while you are out? My terrier is crate trained. I did not do it as slowly as you are describing. I put a treat in, then him, and went about my business. As a pup no longer than 3-4 hours at a time. Now he cries if the door of the crate is shut and he can't get in.

I think he has you trained just like mine had me trained. If my dog barked in the yard I would call him in, have him settle for two minutes and then treat and praise. The 4th time it happened he had gone into the yard, barked once, ran back into the house and sat at my feet waiting for his treat. That training exercise ended. He still barks at nothing.

Housebreaking took 8 months. I'm glad I fed him really good food so his poop was really compact. It was a lot of work to get him housebroken but it has paid off. He is a great little dog that I trust 99% of the time.
posted by cairnoflore at 5:12 PM on January 21, 2012

Response by poster: I guess the good news is that she's smart. The bad news is that she's probably stubborn. I'm home during the day so she's confined to the living room. We put her in the bathroom with a puppy pad overnight or when we are both out. I did pick up the puppies for dummies book at the library so I'm hoping it will tell me more about crate training. Everything I read online just says "put her in a crate when you aren't home" but it seems to me that it's better to work up to longer periods in the crate. Although probably not as slowly as we're going. This is our first puppy and my first dog so we really don't know what we're doing...
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 6:38 PM on January 21, 2012

If you train Chicken (great name) to perform on cue it makes things a lot easier. My Ripley is 9 months now and knows that if we say "take a leak" it means she should go. It doesn't always work, but it gives her prompt, so is very useful if we have to change schedule or if I know she is going to be in for longer than usual.

For house training we just took things slowly with her. Puppy pads by the door and if she went on them we didn't give out to her or praise her. Whenever she went outside we would tell her "take a leak" to get her to associate that and then loads of praise. I still often give her a treat when she goes outside.
posted by Fence at 3:29 AM on January 22, 2012

Yorkie's are super, super smart. When I take mine out for walks, if he isn't ready to go back home when I turn back in that direction he will pretend to pee on things. Just so he can prolong the walk. He also pretends to yawn at me when he's decided that he would like us to go to bed.

Another genius Yorkie trait to look out for: He is not impressed with the "beef flavored" heartworm pills, so I put it in a piece of cheese. He'll eat every bit of the cheese and spit out the pill because he knows that means MORE CHEESE.

On the upside, this is the only dog I've ever had who punishes himself. When I first got him, if he would do something he wasn't supposed to and I'd let him know, he would run to this one couch in my apartment and lay there for hours. Even after I'd come over and be like "Hey, it's okay dude. Time out's over, let's hang out." No. He was in trouble, and he was not going to let me talk him out of it.

Three years later, if I come home and he's laying on that couch, I know something's wrong. He's either knocked over the trash, or had an accident or tried to make an issue of Time magazine into confetti.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 7:47 PM on January 22, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. All very helpful comments. I've already started leaving her in the crate for longer periods of time while I'm home and have learned that Kongs are perfect for crate training.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 10:32 AM on January 23, 2012

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