Pets.ca - Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 

-->

Crate vs Exercise Pen for Housetraining

crazyforcats
January 23rd, 2007, 03:29 PM
I am in the process of housetraining a 12-week old puppy. I think I've messed (excuse the pun) up again. Crate training and letting a puppy have the run of an exercise pen (2 ft x 6 ft) with a crate in it isn't the same thing, is it? For the last 4 days I have been letting Roxy spend her confined time in the exercise pen with the crate and her toys while I let her outside every hour to hour and a half. If she doesn't go pee, I let her out again half an hour later and every half hour until she does go. Once she goes pee she can spend some time out of the exercise pen with the family. I have been keeping a log with the time of every pee and poo Roxy has made since she came to our house a week and a half ago.

Side note: I work at home - I run a dayhome for children. After some other posts with ideas from other members I am keeping Roxy upstairs during the day while I'm downstairs with the kids. I check on her as frequently as possible, but I also have up to 6 children in my care, most aged 15 months up to 3 years.

With crate in the exercise pen system, Roxy has peed on the floor of the exercise pen twice so far this morning - once was 5 minutes after I had let her out. Should I be confining her in the crate only during the day? Was the exercise pen a waste of money?

jessi76
January 23rd, 2007, 04:11 PM
pups have accidents. it'll happen if you crate, don't crate, use an xpen, dont' use an xpen, go outside every 5 min or every hour. it's gonna happen no matter what. pups are pups, they're messy, but always make up for it in cuteness and love....

That said, I think you're doing just fine! I think it's a GOOD idea to have a crate and a pen. you have a little pup, and children that need your full attention. I think if you didn't have the pen, your pup would have soiled the crate, which is worse.

and xpen isn't a waste of money - unless you have a very large dog that can't be contained by such a pen. for you, I think it was money very well spent. the xpen can be used alot later on down the road too!

like we've said before, it takes time, patience, consistancy and routine. give this little one time, she'll get it! it's only been a week and a half.... some dogs take MONTHS to house train.

crazyforcats
January 23rd, 2007, 04:21 PM
jessi76 - Again, Thank You for your "words of wisdom". I truly appreciate your replies! Thank you! I'll just carry on with what I'm doing. :)

PetFriendly
January 23rd, 2007, 05:45 PM
What you are doing sounds exactly like what we did with our small dog, and it will work, and that exercise pen will be usefull in the future.

The point of the crate is to help the dog build bladder muscles to be able to 'hold it'. So putting the dog in the crate isn't, on its own, how you housebreak the dog (and you probably know that but I wanted to make sure, you'd be amazed at what I've heard some people say).

All you need to do is make sure there isn't so much room in the ex-pen that she doesn't try to hold it because she can comfortably mess in one corner and 'live' in the opposite one. I had the best succes with the floor area of the pen being about 4 times bigger than the crate (and my crate was twice as big as it should have been for hte size of dog, so make it 6 times bigger if you have the right size crate.)

What you might want to try is giving the actions a cue word. We use 'Do your Business' and 'Do more business'. Basically all you'll need to do is take her outside, wait for her to start give the cue, then give her a treat once she's done. The only reason the cue helps is that she probably also associates being outside with going somewhere, playing in the yard, etc so putting a command on it helps her figure out what is expected. Combine that with the schedule you already have in place and you are well on your way. :thumbs up

mummummum
January 23rd, 2007, 06:03 PM
Jeepers don't be so hard on your puppy or yourself ! She's only 12 WEEKS old. Make sure to praise, praise, praise every pee/poo done outside and to clean thoroughly all those made inside.

crazyforcats
January 23rd, 2007, 10:40 PM
PetFriendly - Thank you for your response. I'm glad to hear that what I'm doing has been successful elsewhere!

Jeepers don't be so hard on your puppy or yourself ! She's only 12 WEEKS old.
I know, I know.... apparently I was expecting instant successs, somehow thinking I had some supernatural gifted dog that would understand what I wanted it to do sooner rather than later. I have never owned my own dog before, so had no idea what-so-ever about the issues of housetraining.

BTW - Before we brought Roxy home I asked if she was housetrained. They said "yes". Hahaha! Again, if I knew anything about raising a dog I would have known that a 10-week old puppy couldn't possibly be housetrained.

Live and learn!

Spirit
January 24th, 2007, 12:05 AM
With crate in the exercise pen system, Roxy has peed on the floor of the exercise pen twice so far this morning - once was 5 minutes after I had let her out. Should I be confining her in the crate only during the day? Was the exercise pen a waste of money?

Exercise pens come in VERY handy. You can use them if you have company, go to the park, to clock off certain areas of your house (ie. stairs), etc. Although not neccessary, they're a good purchase.

Her accident 5 minutes after you let her out is because she's still unclear on where she pees, or you didn't wait outside long enough and she couldn't hold it anymore.

The quickest and easiest way to housebreak a dog is by crate training, because puppies won't pee where they sleep (unless of course they really can't hold it any longer).

If the space (ie. exercise pen) is too big, and puppy really needs to go, they will usually walk over to an area far from the sleeping area, and go there. The more accidents they have though, the harder it is to housebreak.

If your ex-pen system is working, then stick with it. Remember though, that puppies don't develop FULL bladder control until they're about 4 months old. They potty after eating/drinking, playing, and after waking up. If you're not there when your dog cries to go out, accidents will happen. But if your dog is confined to a crate, she's likely to cry much louder to get your attention.

BTW - Before we brought Roxy home I asked if she was housetrained. They said "yes". Hahaha! Again, if I knew anything about raising a dog I would have known that a 10-week old puppy couldn't possibly be housetrained.

If done correctly, you can housetrain an 8 week old puppy to cry at the door within 36 hours. However, there are two problems here. The first would be "New house. New rules." The second is what I mentioned above about bladder control.

crazyforcats
January 24th, 2007, 11:17 AM
Her accident 5 minutes after you let her out is because she's still unclear on where she pees, or you didn't wait outside long enough and she couldn't hold it anymore.
I took her out every 15 minutes after she ate, went back upstairs to take her out on the 15 minute mark and she had peed on the floor. Whenever I take her outside, I take her directly to the pee pad and put her on it and say "go pee pee!" in my most cheerful happy voice. When she does go I reward her with a tiny treat. She was doing great until a couple days ago and then she started peeing on the floor of her pen (she's done it again already this morning).

If the space (ie. exercise pen) is too big, and puppy really needs to go, they will usually walk over to an area far from the sleeping area, and go there.
That's exactly what's she's doing.
The more accidents they have though, the harder it is to housebreak.
This is my biggest concern with this habit she seems to have developed and is the reason for this original post. She can spend the entire night confined to just her crate without having an accident in it - maybe I should confine her to just the crate during the day for a while before this becomes an embedded behaviour? If I was to do that, should I move the crate closer to where I am during the day so that I can hear her, or just keep letting her out every hour?

Spirit
January 24th, 2007, 12:40 PM
She had one accident that she wasn't corrected for, and her second accident re-inforced it. So now she thinks it's acceptable to pee in her pen. Especially since she does it not long after being outside already.

If you can't watch her, crate her. Take her outside and STAY outside until she pees. Up the small treat to a bigger one, and wake your neighbors with your praise and excitement. She did SUCH a good thing by peeing outside. HUGE reward. Then allow her some playtime in her pen (reward) before putting her back in her crate (play will make her tired).

Once every 15 minutes won't work if she thinks she can go outside to play, then come back inside to pee.

If you do happen to catch her about to squat, run over to her and just pick her up (she doesn't want to pee on you, so she'll hold it as best she can). In a happy voice just say "Outside!", and take her outside (no time for shoes!). Stay out there until she finishes (if you stopped her from peeing, there's urine left in her bladder). Bigger praise.

There are two reasons why she doesn't pee during the night. The first is because (I'm assuming) she's crated (won't pee where she sleeps). The second is because she's been crated, she's conditioned to hold it through the night. She might even be at a point where she can sleep uncrated and not have accidents. But if you're not right there in the morning when she needs to go out (again, assuming she sleeps in her pen), she now thinks that peeing in her pen is acceptable (esp when your'e not around), and she will have more accidents. Hense making housetraining more difficult.

Make sense?

I would absolutely move the crate closer so you can hear her during the day, but if you do go back to crate training, be very aware of when it's playtime, and when it's time to go out. Please don't leave her in there if she's already had her nap and gone to the bathroom (this is playtime).

crazyforcats
January 24th, 2007, 01:12 PM
Spirit - First I need to Thank You for your many replies to my posts. I greatly appreciate your help!
I now have Roxy crated just down the hall, away from the hussel and bussel of the dayhome children, but close enough for me to hear her whine.I'm also wondering if this is confusing her: I take her for at least 2 walks a day. She pees and poos every walk. When we let her outside at other times during the day, we take her onto the patio to pee on Puppy Pee Pads. At the same time she started the peeing in her x-pen, she seemed to not like the pee pads anymore (would pee other places on the patio or in x-pen). The door to our backyard is downstairs (where I am all day and easy access during the day), but as I've mentioned before, our regular evening and weekend family living quarters is upstairs. Regardless, maybe it'll take a little longer for her to catch on - with the door to outside being so far away during evenings and weekends (and she can't do stairs yet) - but I am going to forget the patio and pee-pads and keep up the consistancy in relieving herself on just the ground instead of pee pads and ground.

PetFriendly
January 24th, 2007, 07:39 PM
I wouldn't give up on the pee pads, they are a great way of containing the mess, but I would only use them inside. She'll figure it out, inside, when she's desperate she uses the pads, outside, she uses the ground. If you can, make her ex-pen a little smaller. When she's not in her pen because you are watching her, its ok to pick her up to take her outside when you see her sniffing. And come to think of it, maybe you should wait for her to signal to you that she needs to go?! I get the impression that she isn't pooping in the house... This is a good sign, it means she's getting the basic concept of keeping her 'space' clean.

Vinegar cleans the smell of urine really well if you also wanted to give that a try?!

Spirit
January 24th, 2007, 08:46 PM
Ugh. Pee pads. It does sound like you're confusing her.

Unless you live in an apartment and are gone for several hours every day, I would strongly discourage using them. They're sort of like a temporay litter box, but instead of litter, it's a piece of "cloth" (for lack of a better word) that lays flat on your floor. They're scented to help the dog know where to pee, but they also quickly teach the dog that peeing inside the house, is acceptable. Once you remove the pads, you'll have to re-train your dog to go outside. Once removed, some dogs will become confused and pee on your carpet, clothes, or anything else that resembles the pads, if you're not around. And once a dog pees in one specific spot, it's already "scented" and ready for them to pee there again.

Teaching a dog to tell you that it needs to go outside to pee (ie. crying at the door), is a GOOD step in proper housetraining. If the pads are around, your dog is not likely to tell you it has to go. "Hey mom! I have to pee., but don't worry. You stay there and I'll just go on my little pad over here". And even worse, it doesn't teach good bladder control. They get the urge, and they just go.

This could be a big reason in why she's starting to have accidents. You said that you have a patio, but do you have a backyard or grass she can pee on instead? May I ask why you're using pee pads to housetrain her?

Be consistant about where you want her to potty. If you want her to pee on grasss. bring her there, and NOWHERE else. If all you have is a patio, put the pads down and tell her that's where you want her to pee. On the pads, on the patio.

jessi76
January 24th, 2007, 10:12 PM
Unless you live in an apartment and are gone for several hours every day, I would strongly discourage using them.

I agree w/ Spirit's entire post, but only quoted the above...

I got my dog at 8wks. previously he'd been in a foster home (w/ litter and mom) and was introduced to a crate AND newspaper. as soon as he stepped paw into my home, no more paper. no pads. the only option I gave him was to go outside. I feel it's confusing for the dog - ok to pee inside sometimes? all the time? or never? which is it? Like Spirit mentioned, I agree w/ pads if you're living situation or schedule requires it. but if you intend your dog to go outside, that should be the only option.

Please realize though, I went to great lengths to rearrange my schedule to accomodate my dog. either I or my bf came home every 2 hrs to let him out and enforce the housebreaking rules. when we were home, we took him out constantly. on leash, to the same spot outside.

we also took turns getting up in the night to take him out to pee. we continued this rediculous schedule until he was housebroken.

crazyforcats
January 25th, 2007, 12:08 AM
Ugh. Pee pads. It does sound like you're confusing her.... but they also quickly teach the dog that peeing inside the house, is acceptable.
We were using the pee pads outside on the patio - we never used them inside the house. The number one reason - my 16-month old daughter would find them too tempting to play with....

You said that you have a patio, but do you have a backyard or grass she can pee on instead?
We are taking Roxy into the backyard to pee only now - no more patio. Pee pads are gone. And almost every time I've taken Roxy out to the yard to pee she has relieved herself.

May I ask why you're using pee pads to housetrain her?
We were using the pee pads because the location of her crate (and general family living quarters) was right by the patio. I thought that would make it easier for both us and Roxy, especially if she needed to be taken out quickly. To get to the back yard (with the grass) we have to go downstairs and to the other end of the house to get to the back door - I thought that would be too much for a little puppy to learn, especially one that can't manouver down the stairs. Regardless, we're using the backyard now, and I'm hoping that she'll eventually just go to the top of the stairs and make a sign that she needs to go outside and we can take her from there :fingerscr

crazyforcats
January 25th, 2007, 12:13 AM
when we were home, we took him out constantly. on leash, to the same spot outside.
That's exactly what I'm doing with Roxy now - I've used the exercise pen to section off a small area of the yard for her pee pees and doo doos - She can't be pooping and peeing all over the yard when I have young children playing back there regularly! I'm kind of starting from scratch and sticking to a strict routine now! Even if it means the dayhome kids have to wait a few minutes longer for snack or whatever!

Spirit
January 25th, 2007, 12:00 PM
We were using the pee pads outside on the patio - we never used them inside the house. The number one reason - my 16-month old daughter would find them too tempting to play with....


Oops, sorry! I thought you were leaving them in her pen.

As for using the yard, take her to one section of your yard and nowhere else. Stand in one spot and give her the full 6 feet of the leash. If you can, try blocking off that area so she has a "potty room". You can use bricks or rocks, and just lay them on the ground so knows that inside this area is where she goes to the bathroom (and not the rest of your lawn).

And don't worry about the stairs for now. When she needs to go out, she'll start to tell you by crying at the top of the stairs instead of the door.

Be clear and consistant and she'll pick it up quickly. :thumbs up

crazyforcats
January 25th, 2007, 01:42 PM
Oops, sorry! I thought you were leaving them in her pen.
No apology needed - Please!

As for using the yard, take her to one section of your yard and nowhere else.
This is what I'm doing now - seems to be working so far.

Be clear and consistant and she'll pick it up quickly.
Consistancy is the key! I guess needed to learn that. It seems it's not just Roxy learning new things here! Next on our list will be "sit" and "come" commands.... stay tuned....

Spirit
January 25th, 2007, 02:48 PM
Consistancy is the key! I guess needed to learn that. It seems it's not just Roxy learning new things here! Next on our list will be "sit" and "come" commands.... stay tuned....

Why not incooperate them? Bring her outside and lure her into a sit. "Praise her and release her with ""okay" or "release" or whatever word you want to use, and tell her to go potty. When she goes, BIG praise. Then take a few steps back, pat your leg and say "Come". More praise.

With puppies it's important not to flood them with too many commands at one time, so you might want to practice the come command at a different time, then incooperate it into the bathroom lessons later.

However, if she's ready (she won't think to pee if you're asking her brain to think by showing her that you want her to sit first), asking her (or showing her) that you want her to sit before you allow her to pee is a good first step alpha 101. ;)