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Hi, so we have a 4 month old lab that we’re trying to train but it’s just not going great. She is peeing in the floor all the time! I try to take her out every 30 minutes to 1 hour and even sometimes every 15 minutes. But she’s still peeing in the floor! And it’s not small puddles they’re huge!

I really don’t have to leave her in her cage all day. I have a 1 year old and I am doing my absolute best trying to take care of both of them without depriving my puppy. I let her out and let her run around the house, but it’s just not possible for me to watch her 24/7. When I see that she’s peed in the floor I show it to her and tell her no, let her outside and then bring her back in and put her in her cage for 10-15 min to let her know she’s done something I don’t like. But I’m at a loss on what to do. Any advice would be much appreciated!!
 

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Punishing a dog after they've peed won't teach them anything except that you get mad and unpredictable around pee, not that they caused you to get mad by peeing earlier - they need immediate consequences to put together cause and effect well. Punishing them when you catch them in the act is only slightly more effective, and most dogs will just learn to sneak off and pee where you can't see them instead of learning that they shouldn't pee in the house.

First question is has she seen a vet to rule out a urinary tract infection? If she's sick, no training of any kind is going to help much. UTIs make dogs feel like they have to pee very urgently and often, and they will have much less control over their bladder because of it. Some female dogs have what's called a recessed vulva, which can make them more prone to these infections.

Go back to basics for a bit. For the first couple days, she only comes out of the crate when you are directly supervising her. Take her out every 30 minutes still (as well as after eating, after playing, after a big drink, and after napping), on leash, and make a big fuss with lots of treats and praise the moment she's done peeing. Don't let her just run around to do her business, because you lose the opportunity to reinforce pottying outside if you don't see it happening and can't be right there to reward this good behavior. If she doesn't pee when out with you she goes in the crate. If you can't watch her she goes in the crate, even if it's two minutes while you're in the bathroom. Don't think of the crate as punishment for her, but as management so that she can't practice peeing in the house.

If you see her starting to sniff or squat like she's about to potty, interrupt her with a neutral but attention getting sound (eg don't scare her - I like to use a high "bupbupbup!" or "whoopsie!") and rush her outside to finish. Reward her for finishing outside. If you find any pee spots in the house, clean it up thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner (these break down urine smell so that even dogs can't smell it and think "oh, hey, this smells like a potty spot") and don't make a fuss. Then evaluate why she was able to make a bad potty choice (had you waited too long? Ignored signals? Left her out when you couldn't watch her?) and try to adjust your plan so it can't happen again.

The goal here is to reinforce pottying in the correct spaces and prevent her pottying in inappropriate spaces. Yes, it's a pain. You have to be super consistent and it'll mean a lot of crate time for her. But if you're really on top of things, she'll learn quickly and become super reliable, and you can give her a lot more freedom.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Punishing a dog after they've peed won't teach them anything except that you get mad and unpredictable around pee, not that they caused you to get mad by peeing earlier - they need immediate consequences to put together cause and effect well. Punishing them when you catch them in the act is only slightly more effective, and most dogs will just learn to sneak off and pee where you can't see them instead of learning that they shouldn't pee in the house.

First question is has she seen a vet to rule out a urinary tract infection? If she's sick, no training of any kind is going to help much. UTIs make dogs feel like they have to pee very urgently and often, and they will have much less control over their bladder because of it. Some female dogs have what's called a recessed vulva, which can make them more prone to these infections.

Go back to basics for a bit. For the first couple days, she only comes out of the crate when you are directly supervising her. Take her out every 30 minutes still (as well as after eating, after playing, after a big drink, and after napping), on leash, and make a big fuss with lots of treats and praise the moment she's done peeing. Don't let her just run around to do her business, because you lose the opportunity to reinforce pottying outside if you don't see it happening and can't be right there to reward this good behavior. If she doesn't pee when out with you she goes in the crate. If you can't watch her she goes in the crate, even if it's two minutes while you're in the bathroom. Don't think of the crate as punishment for her, but as management so that she can't practice peeing in the house.

If you see her starting to sniff or squat like she's about to potty, interrupt her with a neutral but attention getting sound (eg don't scare her - I like to use a high "bupbupbup!" or "whoopsie!") and rush her outside to finish. Reward her for finishing outside. If you find any pee spots in the house, clean it up thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner (these break down urine smell so that even dogs can't smell it and think "oh, hey, this smells like a potty spot") and don't make a fuss. Then evaluate why she was able to make a bad potty choice (had you waited too long? Ignored signals? Left her out when you couldn't watch her?) and try to adjust your plan so it can't happen again.

The goal here is to reinforce pottying in the correct spaces and prevent her pottying in inappropriate spaces. Yes, it's a pain. You have to be super consistent and it'll mean a lot of crate time for her. But if you're really on top of things, she'll learn quickly and become super reliable, and you can give her a lot more freedom.
Thank you for this! This all makes sense. Another question, she doesn’t like getting in her cage. And when she’s in there she cries the whole time. Do I just ignore the crying? And what’s the best way to train her to get in her crate? I’ve been throwing a treat in there and she will go in then. Is that ok?
 

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Ouch, yeah, helping her be comfortable in her crate is also going to be work. If you search 'crate games' on YouTube you can find a lot of activities you can do to try to make the crate a positive place and build skills like self-entertaining and settling while she's in there. There's dozens of mini-games out there people have come up with, and I've found it's a matter of trying a few and finding what works with your dog to get them excited about their crate.

My favorite trick for when I can't be actively working on crate training is to measure out daily meals and stuff them into fillable chew toys like a Kong Classic. You can offer those to her whenever you have to put her in there for a while, so she has something positive and calming to occupy herself with. If she doesn't seem interested in the Kong or unsure of what to do with it, you can add a tiny dollop of something like natural peanut butter (double check that it's not artificially sweetened with xylitol - deadly to dogs - I prefer the stuff that's ground peanuts only with as little salt as possible) or unsweetened yogurt to entice her. Once she figures out how rewarding these toys are, you can start freezing them to make it more challenging and keep her occupied for longer.

If she's just whining and doesn't seem seriously distressed, I personally think it's okay to wait for her to quiet down for a moment before taking her out. Just be conscious of how long she's been in there, and whether she might be crying because she needs something (like a potty break). If my dogs - especially as puppies - have been in confinement quietly for a while and then start fussing, I always assume they need out for a potty, whether it's a crate, pen, or even just being in the car on a long drive, so I personally don't wait for quiet in that scenario, I just get them out ASAP so they know that I'll always respond to their signals when they have a genuine need.

If she seems actually distressed, is screaming, acting frantic, going on for hours, etc. you may need to switch your approach to something like what's described in this podcast: https://soundcloud.com/sarah-stremming%2Fhappy-crating Sorry, I know it can be a pain to listen to a whole podcast to get the idea of something, but it's the most thorough free resource Sarah Stremming has about this strategy, since she offers it as a paid workshop. If you listen and think it's worth getting the more in-depth instruction, the full workshop is available here: Fenzi Dog Sports Academy - WP450: Happy Crating! Crating as a Life Skill I wish I had more free options on hand, but this is the best approach I've found so far to handling dogs that are really, really distressed by confinement. Maybe someone else will have some other suggestions!
 

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Yes, the entire Pet Professionals Program has been shelved for now. A lot of the content has been redone though, and is now part of the Pet Dog Training program.
 
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