Dog Training/Puppy in pen
QUESTION: Hi, I have an 18 week old mini Dachshund and when we are at home, she is either tethered to a leash with someone where we can watch closely for potty accidents or chewing. Two weeks ago we got a metal gate pen that is round and maybe 2 feet by 3 feet. When we use the pen, we put her in there with toys, sometimes a little treat for walking in on her own. We place the pen where she can see the comings and goings of the family. We only leave her in there for maybe 30 minutes max at a time. She has begun to bark non-stop at times in it. We ignore her until she stops not to reinforce the behavior and then take her out. We also do not put her in there if she hasnt recently pottied. How do we handle the barking or whining? Also, potty training is going slow, and we can take her out and find 15 minutes after coming in, she will have peed in the pen. I have a crate we use for sleeping at night in our room and she does well there, she makes it all night until 5 am when we get up, but yet in the day, if we dont continue to take her out every 30 minutes or so, she will have an accident. Not sure how we build up the time to a longer period. Thanks for any advice.
ANSWER: Hi Lori. Everything about these "mini" breeds must be taken to an extreme. Typically we say to take the puppy out every 20-30 minutes when she's awake. For a mini breed, go every 15 minutes and allow her plenty of opportunity to go more than one time. Don't bring her back in after the first squat. Play with her in the yard and get those bladder muscles stimulated so that she completely empties herself.
You're doing good things with the exercise pen. You must ignore all barking and whining completely - no eye contact, no conversation. When she's quiet, go in the pen and spend some time with her. I wrote in my blog recently about teaching a dog to be alone: http://www.raisingpip.blogspot.com/2013/04/can-your-dog-be-alone.html
You should also check out www.dogstardaily.com. The online puppy training textbook is excellent.
Please let me know if you have any questions or need clarification on anything I've suggested. Good luck. These are the toughest couple months of puppy hood, but with patience and persistence, you'll get through it.
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QUESTION: Thank you for your prompt thorough response. I do however want to ask, how does the puppy begin to learn to hold it longer and develop bladder control, if we take her out so often? I would think by 18 weeks we should see at least an hour during the waking time that she can manage without going on the floor, particulary after going outside shortly prior. We are literally outside with her when home at least every 30 minutes from 5 am until 10-11 pm. I know you have to be consistent and it takes work, but it is getting to be a bit much. I feel like each time she pees on the floor, we are set back again, at least that is what I read. I know she can hold it as she goes from about 11 pm until 5 am, and even given your body slows during sleep, that is a good deal of time. We were getting up with her once at night until 3 weeks ago and she has never once had an accident at night in the crate then or now.
Bladder control develops when the muscles mature - it's not really something that's learned, per se. As the dog ages, you can expect longer periods of time between elimination.
For a dog as small as yours, I would not expect her to be able to hold it for an hour when she's awake. And yes, every accident is a step backward. Use her crate as necessary during the day. It sounds like you're seeing improvements at night, so daytime should follow soon.