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Our 9-week-old sheltie, Jake, spends nights in his cage (properly divided) without issue. When he is tired out from playing and lies down for a nap, we also put him in there.

We usually take him out after he wakes and starts to whine. After waking, the whining may come within a couple of minutes, or not for 20 minutes. When we do take him out of the cage, we immediately take him outside. Sometimes he goes. Sometimes he doesn't. (First thing in the morning, he always goes. I do too after 8 hours of sleep.)

But during the hours he is awake and playing, he often will surprise us by eliminating before we've even noticed what he is doing. We immediately take him out, and he is rewarded when he goes outside, but not inside.

As we often like to have him out of his cage for the entire time between naps, I wonder if we are doing more damage than good in giving him too much freedom (by increasing the chances of an accident).

What are your caging habits? How do you distinguish between when the puppy has to go, and when he just wants out?

Thanks,
John
 

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I wonder if we are doing more damage than good in giving him too much freedom (by increasing the chances of an accident).
Hi again. :) Yes, you are. An untrained puppy should be in the crate MOST of the time. And you shouldn't get him out when he whines. You're teaching him that when he whines, you give him what he wants.

A dog is born with the instinct to keep his den clean. Ideally, we capitalize on that instinct by making his crate be his "den". A puppy won't soil his den unless he can't hold it. That's why it's important to keep him in a confined space and take him out regularly. After a couple of successful weeks, we make his "den" a little larger. Maybe a larger crate or other SMALL confined space, like a bathroom. He now sees the bathroom as his den and won't soil it. After a while, we gate him in the kitchen, making his "den" even larger. But since he has not soiled in his "den" before, he won't soil his new "den". Only after a couple months of perfect behavior should a dog have full access in the house, by increasing the size of his den until it encompasses the whole house.

Every time you allow him to eliminate in the house, he's learning that it's ok to do. It's much harder to retrain later than to do it right the first time.
 

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well, I tend to disagree with the last post (well, just the part about keeping them in the crate most of the time), but I'm new to all of this too so that is just my opinion. My situation may be different because I work from home and have more time to watch the puppy though.

I DO use crate training as a housebreaking method, but as far as leaving him in there for long periods of time, I mostly only do that overnight or if we have to go somewhere he can't come or otherwise can't watch him for a long period of time. The way I use the crate is: If it's about 20 min after he's eaten, or for some reason he's doing somethign that makes it look like he has to go, I'll take him outside. If he doesn't go, I bring him inside and put him in the crate and wait like 15-30 minutes and when I let him out, immediately go outside again. Usually by the 3rd or 4th time he will have gone, and then he gets praise and we leave him free in the house after coming back in.

I don't know about other dogs/breeds, but we've noticed a few things in our puppy (4 month old samoyed) that kind of signal us that he might have to go. Whenever he's sniffing around in certain areas of the house- especially if his tail is down it's usually a sign that he's about to go. Also, at this point he's started to get the picture, so he'll come up to us, sit down and look up at us, or walk to the door and bark if he needs to go. So it seems like he's got the picture now, and we don't need to use the crate training method as much anymore (at least with regard to housebreaking).
 

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Well our current situation is that the dogs have crate *access* at all times. Webster is crated when I go to work...Kim is really never crated at home any more at all. However, my dogs are both around 2 years old and are fully housetrained and have full control of their bladders (unlike a tiny puppy).

I suppose I could add that Kim crates herself often, and is usually napping in there when I get home (it's still warm). It's not a negative thing for them.

The youngest puppy I have had was around 12 weeks old, give or take. She was crated when we were at work (6 hours with a potty break 3 hours in). At home we did a 2.5 hours cycle: take her out, if she went she got a yummy treat and got to stay out in the house. Two hours later she got water then was crated for 30 minutes, then taken out again (repeat).

If she was just napping, we would put her in her crate to nap to get used to it. She grew attached to her crate quickly as a place where no one would disturb her, and voluntarily spent a lot of time in there (basically when anything scared her...which was often). Over time we relaxed the schedule, but it helped tremendously at first.

Just fit your schedule around the pup's natural "cycle" so to speak. Good luck with your pup.
 

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I The way I use the crate is: If it's about 20 min after he's eaten, or for some reason he's doing somethign that makes it look like he has to go, I'll take him outside. If he doesn't go, I bring him inside and put him in the crate and wait like 15-30 minutes and when I let him out, immediately go outside again. Usually by the 3rd or 4th time he will have gone, and then he gets praise and we leave him free in the house after coming back in.
So did this method work well? How long did it take? My 11 weeks old is starting to go more and more inside (although I do catch him and bring him out). He's about to go on schedule of 8 hours in the crate (4 and 4 with my lunch break, which he'll probably "go" each time). How should I do the evenings? He'll get a long walk with dinner after as soon as I get back. Then how should he be crated?
 

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An untrained puppy should be in the crate MOST of the time. And you shouldn't get him out when he whines. You're teaching him that when he whines, you give him what he wants.
Well, that makes sense, but begs the question: How do I know if he is whining because he wants out of the crate, or if it's because he needs to go?
 

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I've noticed with my 10 month old pup (had her a month now and had NO training before we got her) that she has very different whines for different reasons. Her "I want attention" whine is higher pitched and constant. Her "I have to go" whine is more of a sigh/whine that isn't constant...though all dogs are different.
 

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Well, that makes sense, but begs the question: How do I know if he is whining because he wants out of the crate, or if it's because he needs to go?
You'll learn to read your puppy's body language along with knowing what each of his vocalizations mean. In the meantime, keep a log - what time he ate, the time he eliminates after eating, playing, napping, etc. It'll give you a pretty good indication of how often, and even when you'll need to take him out. Keep him on a schedule; he'll be regular, and you can stay on top of things (instead of cleaning up accidents!).

I use an ex-pen in addition to a crate, when I can't supervise closely. At other times, I'll tether the puppy to me, so I can tell when he's got to go, and get him outside before he does.
 

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So did this method work well? How long did it take? My 11 weeks old is starting to go more and more inside (although I do catch him and bring him out). He's about to go on schedule of 8 hours in the crate (4 and 4 with my lunch break, which he'll probably "go" each time). How should I do the evenings? He'll get a long walk with dinner after as soon as I get back. Then how should he be crated?
I definitely think it has worked in the sense that he seems to 'know' that he's supposed to go outside, and voluntarily gives us signs like going to the door and barking, or sitting and staring at us/barking if he needs to go out. We got him at around 11 weeks and have been following that method since we got him... I'd say around the time he really started to get it (as well as getting better at holding it in when he has to) was about 2-3 weeks after we got him. It's all a process- he still has a mistake every once in a while, but it's usually OUR mistake, because we failed to catch the signs soon enough or we got him excited when we knew we should have taken him out first.

As far as your other question, I personally would say that as long as you can keep an eye on him to let him be out of the crate, but as long as you give him enough chances to go out- you'll probably find your own schedule. Right now we leave him in the crate overnight (about 7 hours or so) and the rest of the time he's out since I work from home and can watch him. Before he was able to stay in the crate all night w/o barking though, the way we did it was pretty much- to give him a chance to go out every 4 hours, and about 10-20 min after eating (along with the crate method i mentioned originally). It was a pain having to get up int he middle of the night to take him out, but I think that helped. Even at first when we started crating him overnight we would do that, and then slowly lengthened the intervals to 5/6 hours. Now he can stay in there all night and he just goes when we let him out in the morning.

I think as long as you get on a good schedule where he gets enough chances to go out and keep a good eye on the signs he's giving you- he'll pick it up quick and get better at going outside, as well as you picking up on his signs.
 

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How do I know if he is whining because he wants out of the crate, or if it's because he needs to go?
Mine never whined when they had to go potty. I made sure to take them out plenty of times during the day and night so that it never became an urgent thing while they were in their crate. They cried when they wanted out. But I ignored them and they stopped. Never had an accident in their crates. :)
 
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