Puppy Potty Training - Help!
(New York NY)
We got our Maltipoo about 1.5 weeks ago and she is doing great! She is 9.5 weeks old. I was wondering if you had any advice on crate training.
First, we live in NYC and the vet has instructed us that we should not bring her outside (city sidewalks) until she has had all 3 rounds of boosters.
Well, we bought a crate and put it in our bedroom. She cried so much the first few nights, but now doesn't even whimper at all. YAY!
She is doing well with using the bathroom on her puppy pads, however she is now using the bathroom in her crate. I put a puppy pad on one side of the crate and on the other a folded blanket for her to lay on. She is in the crate at night to sleep and also during the day while my Husband and I are at work.
We do spend a lot of time with her when she is not in the crate. I have her on a feeding schedule (morning and early evening).
Since the Vet recommended that I shouldn't take her outside until she's had all her shots, what should I do? Should I keep letting her soil in her crate or stop this immediately?
Thanks for all your help!
Congratulations! It seems as though you and your puppy are doing great so far, and are definitely on the right track.
Infection is a real possibility when you expose an unvaccinated pup to busy, city streets, so your veterinarian is exactly right on this point. However, that does create it's own set of problems!
It seems that your puppy is adjusting well to the crate, and is also able to understand the purpose of the puppy pads (that's pretty good, most puppies consider them strange, but interesting, chew toys!). Do you an area outside that is fenced or secure so that it's not being frequented by other, stray or unvaccinated dogs? If so, I would really suggest that you start to train her to do her business there. Maybe even a balcony? You could make her a little potty box, with dirt and some turf/sod out there to get her used to 'going' outdoors.
Failing these options, you'll need to stick with the puppy pads for now. However, it sounds as though your major problem with the crate is that it's too big. If you read my Crate Training page, you'll find tons of advice and tips. One of the points mentioned is that it's vitally important to get the right size crate - it MUST NOT BE TOO BIG. It should be just big enough for your puppy to stand up, sit down, turn around and lie down without touching the sides. That's it, no bigger.
This is because crate training is actually working WITH your a puppy's natural instincts not to soil where it sleeps. Being den animals by nature, dogs and puppies keep their den clean by eliminating outside, it's hardwired into their little brains. Crating encourages your puppy to develop bladder/bowel control by 'holding it' due to the natural desire to keep the den clean. However, if you give her a crate big enough for a sleeping area and a toilet area, she will feel quite okay about eliminating there. So first, get a smaller crate. You can use the one you have later, as she grows.
Secondly, it may be that she is going too long in the crate without a break, and simply can't 'hold it' until you get home/let her out. During the day she probably needs to go out several times, but if you're at work and there's no one to take her she may be forced to eliminate in the crate. This is not something you want her to get into the habit of doing, or she'll get comfortable with it and it will be very difficult to break her of it.
If you and your husband are both at work all day, could you either pop home at lunchtime, or find a neighbor or relative who could come to your home to let the puppy out and spend some time with her? If not, what about a local teenager or retiree who may be happy to do this for a small fee? Even a Petsitter if you'd like (see Petsitters )
At night, she may need a potty break around 1 or 2 am, that's not unusual. If she's been quiet for hours and then starts to whine or cry, take her to her 'potty spot'. It's better than finding a dirty crate in the morning, and she'll soon outgrow this. Make sure her last feed is around 6pm and pick up her water around 7.30pm, that way she has a better chance of being 'empty' by bedtime!
Overall, you're doing really well. I think the above measures will take care of the problem with eliminating in her crate. If not, let me know. It's definitely something you need to prevent becoming routine/habit for her.
Best of luck!