Question: I have a 11 week old lab/cur, I'm having some trouble potty training her. Most of the time she will not go inside the house but she will pee inside her crate and lay in it. She will not cry to let me know she needs to be let out. I am not keeping her in the crate for long periods of time and I am not giving her a lot of water. But she still continues to pee in her crate. What should I do to correct this behavior?
Answer: First thing I would ask is how much pee is she going? If its not a lot and it's very frequent, it could be a UTI in which you need to get her to the vet to get that cleared up. A few days of medication will fix that and then the housebreaking/crate training will be possible. UTI's can happen and are fairly common but the key to avoiding them is keeping the pup hydrated. It's finding that balance of how much and how often in relation to the bathroom routine. More on that below...
Assuming its not a UTI... I think it takes what I call a hard reset with the pup. It's going to be 100% dependent on your ability to be consistent with routine and schedule. There are no "tricks" to fixing this. Unfortunately the last thing we want to happen has already happened in that the pup doesn't mind being "dirty". She thinks it's "ok" now so she's not gonna help the situation by giving any warning or holding back to try and not have the accident. I think you continue to monitor the water and food. You have to keep her hydrated, but it needs to be understood on your parts that when she has the drink, how much she drinks vs how many times she pees and how much in between. You have to understand that first. Then it comes down to making sure she doesn't have the chance to have the accident. That means when she goes in the kennel, she's doing it immediately after she's been out and did her business. Then, you're not letting her go any longer than the shortest time you've seen her have that accident in the past. That might mean every 15-20 min during the day for the first day or two. Then, you might be able to start stretching it out little by little. Part of the reason this will work is because you simply don't allow for the accident to happen this way. The other reason is because it's gonna force you to pay super close attention to everything regarding schedule. That will allow you figure out the routine that allows her to be successful. She'll begin to understand the routine and the habit will start to form. It is what I call a "hard reset" because this is not going to be easy. It will be hard to start out, but it will work if you're consistent. It will also be the best lesson to understand why it's so much easier to shape the desired end behavior in the beginning rather than try and go back to fix the issue later. In all my training, I don't like to treat symptoms, instead avoid the disease all together.
The biggest issue is that you have this going against you. I prefer to avoid the issues all together rather than try and fix them afterwards, but shit happens. Now you have to do some more work is all. Start now, it will only get tougher each accident. I hope this helps, keep me posted. Jeremy