Using the crate as a bathroom...HELP! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-13-2010, 02:13 AM Thread Starter
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Question Using the crate as a bathroom...HELP!

Aleks (8 months) like to think his crate his a bathroom. As a puppy his breeder was unable to take the pups outside to potty because she broke her foot...so they learned to just go in their crates/play areas. His previous owner worked long hours and didn't have the time to potty train him properly. I now live in an apartment and it is starting to get destroyed when I leave. At first, I'd crate him, but I was bathing him and the crate EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I put him in there...talk about a production. I tried gating him in my bedroom with my 6 yr old Dobe cross, but he hurls himself at the gate to get out. I gave him free reign of the house with her, as she's perfectly house-trained and super mellow, and this was fine for a few days but he's started counter-surfing (when I'm gone) and destroying whatever he can find, as well as continuing to use the bathroom on the bedroom floor.

He is getting neutered on Monday and I am hoping that will help somewhat, but the crate pooping has got to stop. I know of a couple different methods to try to stop crate pooping, but I really have no idea how long it will take and/or which one will actually work. The one that sounds most likely to work with him but least appealing to me, is bringing him back to puppy stage: seriously limiting food and water, crating him all the time, letting him out only to potty. That's supposed to teach him the crate is his bed, not a bathroom or play area...but I have a feeling I'll be spending hours and hours in the bathtub with him.

If anyone has ANY ideas at all I would gladly welcome them. He happily walks right into his crate, he'll just poop in it if he's there more than 15 minutes or so.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-13-2010, 03:07 AM
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I personally think you should go back to the puppy basics of crate training. Begin by limiting his food and water intake before he is crated. Leave him in the crate for 1o minutes and then release him and take him for a walk immediately. Right after the walk, place him in the crate again, but now for 15 minutes. Repeat this about 2 or 3 times a day and then slowly increase the time spent in the crate. If you dog is walked before crating, this will help prevent him from "going" in the crate.

Basics are definitely essential. I adopted a German shepherd mix from my shelter and she would also "go" in her crate as well. All I did was begin puppy crate training and take her out on frequent walks. Think about it, if you need to "go" around 3 a.m. who is to say your dog does not need to as well. Also, maybe hiring someone to walk your dog during any extended hours could be helpful as well. I know what you are going through, and trust me, there is a solution, it just takes time.

Just don't give up. Good luck!
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-13-2010, 09:08 AM
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^^Agree.

If you can, the best thing to do is establish a strict schedule.for elimination and very closely monitor food and water intake. Start out by taking the dog out every couple of hours. Lots of walks and frequent trips outside will give Aleks lots of opportunities to do what you want, so you can praise him and reinforce the outside behavior. Pretty soon you'll learn Aleks bathroom schedule and start to adjust for that.

Also he thinks pooping in the crate is OK. So he probably won't cry if he needs to go out. If possible keep him in the crate where you can watch him. If he starts to go to the bathroom in his crate, you need to interrupt him and take him right outside. When he completes his business outside you can praise him for that.

Constant monitoring is going to be your best bet.

However, if that is not possible I had a friend who adopted a shelter dog that had learned to be a mess. Unfortunately she had a job, and could not go through the intensive schedule. Crating the dog meant that she had to give the dog a bath every day when she came home. When left out in the house the dog would actually go into the crate to go to the bathroom. What she ended up doing as a management solution was to give the dog an appropriate place to potty in the house- sort of like paper training. The dog was confined to a room that was dog proofed and given pee pads. This kept the dog from being dirty in the crate so she could learn to be clean again, kept the mess to an isolated area that was easier to clean up, and was slowly transitioned outside in much the same way that people do potty training. Although that took almost a year and wouldn't be my first choice if you can manage the more intensive time outside.

Bianka vom Eisernen Loewen IPO3, CGC, TC 1-3-08
Cade vom Eisernen Loewen IPO1, CGC 3-25-09
D'Artagnan (Tag) vom Eisernen Loewen BH 2-2-10
G Aiko von Burkndeiros SchH 3, IPO3, FH, TC, KKL2 9-17-02 (Retired)


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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-13-2010, 02:19 PM
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As a last resort , if he's really not getting it, (since he is bigger) you could condition him that he only gets to eat if his crate stays clean... to do that though, you have to set him up to succeed, not fail, so start off with short amounts of time in the crate. Start him off hungry, if he comes out clean, give him food and repeat. Always peek into the room to see if the crate is clean, if it is, have the food ready immediately; if it isn't, don't show him any food. Eventually he will figure out that if he's hungry, the only way he can earn food is to keep the crate clean and that will motivate him to keep clean since he doesn't seem concerned about his own cleanliness.
Ration out a day's food based on how many times he will succeed. If he'll only get it right twice, split the day's food into two. If there will be 20 successes: one day's food split into 20 portions.
When my puppies were little I'd put their day's worth of food into a jar in the kitchen. I'd use it as rewards and training aids throughout the day and I could still monitor how much they were eating. They had to work for all of their food and I wouldn't just leave it laying on the floor in a bowl so they thought it was "free".
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-14-2010, 03:19 PM Thread Starter
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Great suggestions. I do have a question - if I'm watching him and he starts to use the bathroom and I stop him and take him outside, will that teach him to go to the bathroom as a way to get out of the crate? As in, will he think a potty break is his reward for using the bathroom inside the crate? I don't want him to start associating crate pooping = going outside....since he already poops and doesn't want to be in there for very long.

I am going to take off work his week and stay home and watch him. I am going to try moving his crate into an area where I usually am, so he's not alone in a different room, and see if that helps (his crate is usually in my bedroom where I figured it would be quiet and relaxing). That way I'll be able to work from home and still watch him at all times.

Thanks!!
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-14-2010, 03:25 PM
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No, it will teach him pottying is an outdoor activity only
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-14-2010, 05:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mercury View Post
Great suggestions. I do have a question - if I'm watching him and he starts to use the bathroom and I stop him and take him outside, will that teach him to go to the bathroom as a way to get out of the crate? As in, will he think a potty break is his reward for using the bathroom inside the crate? I don't want him to start associating crate pooping = going outside....since he already poops and doesn't want to be in there for very long.

I am going to take off work his week and stay home and watch him. I am going to try moving his crate into an area where I usually am, so he's not alone in a different room, and see if that helps (his crate is usually in my bedroom where I figured it would be quiet and relaxing). That way I'll be able to work from home and still watch him at all times.

Thanks!!

I wouldn't think that would be an issue because you would be given a verbal negative. Actually if the verbal negative doesn't work I will bang on the crate (this has been effective for me for crate whining). Either way there is a negative indicator.

And when you get him out, there is no petting, no loving, no nice talking I would pretty much ignore him and not even make eye contact. Matter of factly leash him up and take him out...and then once he finishes outside...LOTS of praise and petting. Although I don't think I would do a free time play session at that point. And then when you take him back in....right back in the crate. At least for 15 minutes or so...and then you can let him back out to either be in the house or free play in the yard. That way going out doesn't only occur in conjunction with pooping.

Bianka vom Eisernen Loewen IPO3, CGC, TC 1-3-08
Cade vom Eisernen Loewen IPO1, CGC 3-25-09
D'Artagnan (Tag) vom Eisernen Loewen BH 2-2-10
G Aiko von Burkndeiros SchH 3, IPO3, FH, TC, KKL2 9-17-02 (Retired)


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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-17-2010, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
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He came home just about 24hrs ago and has been in the crate (except at bedtime, when he and Zelda are closed in the bedroom with me). No crate accidents and he seems VERY relaxed in the crate now that it's in the same room I'm in and he can see me. Although I'm not working, I'm keeping as close to a schedule as I'll have while working, so he will get the hang of consistency.

Last night he did have an accident after bedtime. I verbally corrected him and took him outside to finish like he usually does, but he didn't...and then finished inside about 20 minutes later. He hasn't done that before, so I'm hoping it was just the surgery throwing his schedule off. He also woke up about 3 hours early today and needed to potty as well. But again, I'm hoping it was just the surgery. It was frustrating to take him out and tell him to "go potty" and have him just stand there, when last week he would go potty immediately...but baby steps, right?
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-17-2010, 03:40 PM
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You have to take him out often and then again. I take my puppy out a LOT and he has never eliminated in his crate. It is a real pain to keep going outside even when you think that he doesn't need to go, but worth the effort in the long run.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-25-2010, 02:12 PM Thread Starter
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So in the last week we have made TONS of progress!! There were definitely some really bad days, but as I type, Aleks is snoozing in the crate next to me - with the door open. He was tuckered out from playing and just went in on his own. He's done this a couple times over the last few days. That's huge! Also, it's now been about 30 hours since he went potty in the house AT ALL.

And....best of all...I crated him last night for just under 3 hours while I had dinner with a friend and came home to...NOTHING but a sleeping puppy!!! YAHOO!!!! I'd been putting him in the crate for short things like bringing in the groceries and once for 30 minutes at the gym, but 3 hours is HUGE!! That means he's getting it! The crate is for snoozing, not pottying. I can't even put into words how relieved I am. I just have to continue setting him up for success and not pushing him too far too soon or else we will be right back at the beginning. So my social life is going to be a little sad for a couple weeks...but at this rate, he'll be good in no time!! YAYY!!!!

Zelda Doberman/Chinese Shar-Pei approx DOB Oct 2004, rescued Feb 2009, CGC May 2010
Aleks GSD DOB Dec 2009, adopted August 2010
Molly Doberman/Japanese Chin/Maltese rescued May 2007 at age 6, at the bridge January 2009
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