10-week-old puppy have middle of night crate accidents for attention?
by Emily B.
Hi! We have a 10-week-old Bernese Mountain Dog puppy. She is sweet as can be and is doing great with housebreaking and crate training during the day. After 2 weeks at home with us, she is ringing a bell at the door to let us know when she has to go out and has had just a couple of minor pee accidents in the house. No complaints there!
We are feeding her regularly at 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. We take her out hourly to go potty when we are home with her, and we wake up every 2.5-3 hours to let her out during the night. After eating at 5:30, she has a bowel movement. And typically she has another the last time we take her out for the evening, around 10:30/11:00 p.m. After we take her out for the last time, we put her to bed. We also take away her water about 3 hrs before bed.
Almost every night for the past 2 weeks, when we wake up to take her out to potty around 1:00 a.m., she has pooped in her crate. It isn't a normal size, big poop though... it is typically very small and she appears to have laid in it or smeared it around. It is really disgusting. We clean up her crate, and wipe her down with puppy wipes immediately. Then we put her back in her crate to go back to bed until we get up with her 3 hours later. Sometimes she has pooped again, and other nights not. We try not to play with her or give her much attention while we clean, as we don't want to reward this behavior. But, we also do not SCOLD her since we didn't catch her in the act and we know it wouldn't be productive to correct her after the fact.
We took her to the vet this weekend for regularly scheduled puppy shots - she doesn't have worms or parasites, and we took the vet's advice by taking out all crate bedding to ensure that it isn't soaking up fast enough that she doesn't mind eliminating where she sleeps.
We are at a total loss. Why does she keep doing this?? She doesn't mind being in her crate. We feed her in there and play with her near it so that she likes it. It isn't too small or too large for her size. She is healthy and eating regularly. The room we keep her crate in is quiet, dark, and den-like. We have a 2 bedroom apartment so we aren't sleeping far from her. We even have put a big quilt over her wire crate to make it cozier for her since the vet instructed us to remove her crate bedding.
I don't know what to do. I would love to know why this keeps happening, or how to make it stop. I have resorted to Googling and asking friends but I'd prefer a professional answer from someone who knows what they are talking about. Reasons why and suggestions to make this stop would be MUCH appreciated!!! She is a wonderful, cute, smart little pup, but this nighttime madness has got to stop.
Thank you for your help!
First of all I'd have to say that you're extremely lucky to have a puppy who is doing so well in every way. She is way ahead of the curve for a 10 week old puppy.
I do know how frustrating it is to have to clean out a crate (and clean up a puppy!) in the middle of the night, so I totally sympathize. But at 10 weeks old it's perfectly normal for her to need to 'go' during the night, even if she's pooped twice since dinnertime.
This phase does pass, but at the time it seems endless I know. You are doing all the right things in terms of her routine, cleaning up, not scolding but not giving too much attention etc. It's really more a matter of time and maturity than anything you can control. If she were doing this for attention she'd be whining and howling, rather than pooping... and puppies don't really think that way!
However, I'd suggest changing a couple of things just a little bit.
First, I'd move her dinnertime to an hour earlier, so she's eating at 4:30 rather than 5:30, she's a large breed puppy and as long as she's eating at least twice a day she will be perfectly fine from 4:30 until breakfast time.
Secondly, I'd set your alarm for midnight and get up to take her out then, rather than waiting until 1am by which time she's already pooped. There's no guarantee that she won't have eliminated before midnight, but if she's going to be around 11pm and falling asleep, chances are good she won't have.
Then, once she's pooped outdoors you can probably let her sleep until about 4am before she'll need another break. If she whines to wake you up, or gives you warning that she needs to go, then you can probably take her cue. But, if she doesn't and you just go to her and find she's pooped, then set your alarm for 3:30 or 4 am and go take her out anyway.
Although there's always a risk that she'll be going out of habit rather than need this way, as she matures she'll sleep longer and be able to 'hold it' for longer, gradually she'll be sleeping (without making a mess) until 3, 4, 5 and eventually 6am or whenever you guys get up.
Raising a puppy is time consuming and frustrating at times, but these stages do pass and if you're patient and consistent she will grow out of this. You are not doing anything 'wrong' and she's not being 'naughty', it's simply a disconnect between her puppy abilities and your expectations. Overall you're obviously doing really well with her training and she's understanding what you want and trying to please.
Just be patient and consistent and this will become a thing of the past.
Hope this has helped, I wish you lots of luck with your puppy.