I have a 7 week old Shih Tzu that I have had for 3 nights. He is doing AMAZING in terms of housetraining and loving his crate (thanks to the breeder doing some good work before I even got him). Thus far, I take him outside every time he gets out of the crate, shortly after eating, and basically anytime I see behaviors indicating he has to go. When I take him out, he does his business in less than a few minutes, I praise/reward and bring him back in. During the night, however, I carry him to a pee pad, give him the cue to 'go,' he pees and I put him immediatey back in the crate.
My questions pertain to night training, as I am exhausted (getting up every 3 1/2 to 4 hours, based on when he wakes). Here are the options I can think of (would be open to others) and I would like to know what others think would be best.
1. Continue as I am, perhaps trying to get him up during the night before he wakes, so that he comes to trust that I will get him out, vs. reinforcing his whining (although I have to say, he either doesn't whine or whines for less than 10 minutes after I put him in the crate, so I'm not completely convinced this would be teaching a bad habit).
2. Take the divider out of his crate and place a pee pad in the back of it, so he has a sleep area and a pee area. My concerns with this are that he may inadvertently pee on his blanket/toy, the crate will smell like a pee area, and he may play/chew the pee pad.
3. Use a baby gate to block him in the laundry room, leave his create door open and cover the floor with pee pads. This would be the easiest by far, but I'm not sure if it would be the most effective long-term (and he is doing so well thus far, I don't want to mess it up).
As for the pee pads...I am fine with him using them at night, because I know he can't hold it; I guess I'm hoping to train him to use them at night before leaving him alone to do it, if that makes sense. In addition, I will eventually be leaving him at home while I work 3 days a week, so he will need them then (though for a while I will be taking him to work with me, because I think leaving him home by himself for that long would cause problems with the housetraining).
Again, would love opinions/thoughts!