Whether you are housebreaking a puppy or retraining an older dog, it is both surprising and frustrating to find he is using his crate as a bathroom. Since your beloved Fido is not doing this to spite you, apply patience, persistence and lots of love to get him back on track.
Look at the size of the crate in comparison to the dog. Is it too big? Dogs should have just enough room to stand, turn and lie down. Any bigger and they may think they have a private bathroom as well. If necessary, get your dog a smaller crate.
Remove any soft bedding in the crate that can be used for defecation and then pushed into a corner, at least until the dog is completely housebroken.
Clean the crate completely, removing any odor, before allowing your dog back in it. Otherwise, the smell may encourage him to repeat the behavior.
Focus on your dog's potty-break routine. Take him out every two hours, and within a short period of time after eating. Praise him lavishly when he uses the proper spot for elimination, and even provide a treat to emphasize the desired behavior.
Bang on the side of the crate with your hand when you catch him in the act, adding a sharp "no." This should stop him mid-elimination. Take him outside immediately to his bathroom spot, without scolding, and then praise him for finishing the task there.
Provide interaction and play time with your dog after he has gone to the bathroom outside. In addition to praise and an occasional treat, this extra time with you will reinforce that he wants to go outside to eliminate so he can play.
- Do not allow your dog any unsupervised access to other parts of the house; keep him where you can watch him at all times until he is completely housebroken.
- Do not yell at or scold your dog for going in his crate. He may refuse to use the bathroom outdoors in front of you, thinking that this normal behavior is "bad." Instead, use praise to encourage good behavior.
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