My 4 month old puppy thinks that her crate is where she is allowed to pee and poop.
This is unusual, but there are a couple of possibilities.
The first one is that her crate is too big. For puppy owners who are new to crate training, buying a bigger crate (so that she has lots of room and will suit as she gets older) seems a good idea. However, it's not!
To use a crate effectively for housebreaking purposes, it's important that it be quite small. Just big enough for her to sit up, stand up, lie down and turn around without touching the sides. That's all, no bigger.
This is because crate-training relies on the dogs natural den instinct to not soil where it sleeps. If there is enough space for your puppy to designate a sleeping spot and a potty spot, this won't work.
The second possibility is most often seen in pet shop puppies, or puppy mill puppies, who have been forced to live in small cages or crates without adequate toilet breaks. Therefore they get used to messing in their crates and the natural instinct to keep it clean is squashed.
This can be a big problem, and if this may be the case you will need a lot of patience to train your pup. She will need many, frequent potty breaks and lots of praise and encouragement for the correct behavior. A professional trainer may also be helpful.
I'd recommend that you read my Crate Training page, it has tons of tips and advice on this method of housebreaking.
I'd also suggest that you make sure to clean her crate very well, using an enzymatic cleaner, such as Natures' Miracle, to remove all traces of odor which will attract her back to the same area to eliminate.
You can find a list of recommended products for this task on my Cleaning Up Dog Urine page.
Best of luck!
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