Q&A: Help! Crate potty training issues.

Hi! We adopted a Beagle mix puppy when she was 5 weeks old. She is almost 6 months old now. We are really struggling with her going to the bathroom in the house. We did not crate her during the day when she was little because we live 30+ minutes from our offices and we did not think she could hold it several hours and certainly not all day. I kept her confined to our bathroom (which is big) with puppy pads, toys, water, etc. When she was big enough to stay outside with our older dog, she started doing that. Now the two of them stay out all day until we get home from work. She is only crated at night while we sleep. My question is, is it too late to house train her at this point if she’s still going in the house? It’s causing quite a bit of consternation. We try to keep rooms closed off but if they’re open at all during home time, she finds a way to pee or poop on our bedroom carpets.

If crate training is the recommendation, how long should she be left in it at the time? And how long will we have to do this? I feel so badly for dogs that are in crates all day and all night! Hopefully it won’t take too long, but I’ve got to get her trained even if it means my husband and I alternating coming home for lunch every day indefinitely.

We also have a big biting problem, which worries me for my small children, but I’m going to try obedience training for that. We do have chew toys, bones, and all the recommended things. Hoping its a phase she grows out of … ~Aubrey

Hello Aubrey!

I think I can help you with your beagle! It seems like you have two separate problems, so let me address both.

First, I want to touch on this biting issue, because that can potentially become a much bigger problem. This seems like much more of a behavioral concern, one that simple obedience training (by definition is meant to teach a dog to obey commands, such as sit, stay, recall, etc.) probably won’t actually help you with. Not all dog trainers have much actual behavioral experience, and even fewer yet are college accredited behaviorists (which is who I would suggest reaching out to).

Depending on the severity of this ‘biting problem’, I urge you to contact an accredited animal behaviorist and not rely on simple obedience training- both for the safety of your Beagle, and others who live with you, especially small children who may not understand boundaries. Remember, dogs aren’t people, and shouldn’t be expected to act like people.

If you would like to offer more details surrounding the issue, I would be glad to offer what help I can!

Potty Training
No, you don’t need to crate train your dog, although it is helpful and recommended. It is certainly not too late to potty train!

I like to recommend reward based positive reinforcement methods.

Create a regular potty schedule, and stick to it.
Accompany your Beagle outside when it is potty time, and reward with enthusiastic praise + a possible treat reward EVERY TIME she potties outside. Don’t miss one, or she may confuse the idea and your training will take longer. You are trying to get her to form the association ‘Potty outside makes mother/father happy, and that is good for me.’ In her little Beagle mind. (:

Punishment isn’t necessary, even discouraged; you want your girl to enjoy the training process and not fear it.

Don’t reward mistakes indoors, or acknowledge with an apologetic tone. Eventually she will learn ‘I get nothing if I go indoors, but rewarded if I go outside’.

It is helpful if she is leashed by someone’s side at all times when she isn’t created (which is one reason crate training is useful). If she is leashed by your side, you’ll be able to catch every single mistake, correct it by running her outside to the desired spot, and speed up her training.

Dogs will prefer not to eliminate in confined spaces (a bathroom is too much space), or where they sleep, which is one reason crate training is recommended for potty training. I’m going to skip the actual training process because it is an ordeal in itself, but will leave links to specific training articles if you need. The majority of potty training articles, or trainers, will recommend crate training initially.

At six months, most dogs can hold their bladders around 4-6 hours, which is the standard recommended time frame here. Thankfully, she has grown and won’t need to go every two hours!

A standard eight hour work day is probably too much to ask. For proper crate training to work smoothly, and to avoid any complications like separation anxiety, you’ll have to gradually work up to an extended time period anyway (as you’ll see if you read the article below). I understand this isn’t always possible, so consider starting training on a Friday and continuing throughout the weekend.

HSUS Article on crate training

I hope I was able to help! If you still have questions regarding potty training, the AKC has a fantastic article on the subject.

AKC Potty Training

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Junior Watson

Junior is the DogTrainingBasics.com resident "Top Dog". He enjoys walks in the park, chasing invisible cats, and of course... bacon strips!

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  • Biting – your dog does not understand who is the pack leader. It’s you. Force your dog onto its back and rub its tummy, touch it’s paws. Gently sit on him if he’s a large dog. Force it into that submissive position. Make sure you go through doorways first, not your dog. You are the pack leader. Make it sit & wait for you to say OK before it is allowed to eat.

    I have a new 14 week puppy at the moment and when he puts his teeth on my hand, I hold it there. And push down, so it’s uncomfortable for the pup. Then he won’t do it again. If he does it again, I would hold it there a little longer and say NO in a firm voice. He won’t want to repeat an uncomfortable experience.

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