I have an Italian greyhound and he is only 4 months old. I am having difficulty with house training him. For some reason he only goes number 2 in his crate at night and rolls and plays in it, and we put down newspaper but he shreds it up. He loves to cuddle and I think that he does not want to be alone. Do you have any suggestions to help me? I would appreciate it, thanks.
Lisa Neeld- Infante
Congratulations on your Italian Greyhound. Italian Greyhounds are very social animals and do not like to be confined in one area while they know you are another. This can cause issues, although the issues you are experiencing sound very normal for this age.
I don't know where you acquired your IG but it sounds as though he has been "trained" to potty where he sleeps. This typically is normal for a confined puppy or a puppy that does not have access to an alternative place to potty when they are learning from momma - around 6-12 weeks of age. Typically momma will have the puppies sleep in one location and potty in another, and also is very diligent about cleaning up after the pups so they do not learn to play or sleep in their feces. Unfortunately, this can be very very difficult to break once they have already learned to do it. There is no easy answer so several things are going to need to be done diligently, in concert with each other to try to break this habit. First, I would suggest that you feed several times daily and take outside to potty after eating about 35 minutes later - you will know your dog better than I and this time is just a rough guestimate. Once you figure out when he needs to potty, then you can consistently take him to where you want him to potty and praise him when he goes. You may have a long waiting game the first few times, so be patient and refuse to take him in (you stay with him) until he potties outside. IGs really want to please so they will understand quickly that you are happy with them doing their business in one area.
Secondly, never let a puppy have free reign across the house, always either keep a close eye or umbilical train him (hook him to you via a long leash) and that way you can see when he needs to potty and rush him outside - again consistent with the first suggestions so you can get him to understand where to go.
Newspaper and piddle pads (paper) are notoriously fun to play with, so are rolls of toilet paper and paper towels. I have found it best to use cloth piddle pads that are too big for them to play too much with - I use the type that can be bought for elderly peoples beds - they are large and very absorbant and also tough. I wash them as needed and reuse them. I have a set that has lasted almost 4 years thus far. :) They don't get the satisfaction of tearing them apart so they sometimes will lay on them so you may need to lay down more than one.
I am not sure how you have him confined outside this crate, but you might need to make the crate a safe place, by purchasing an XPen (exercise pen). This is a large fence that can be placed in a circle and the puppy placed inside. I would place a very small crate bottom (just the bottom) in the xpen with a pillow or blanket inside the bottom of the crate. Place the reuseable pads on the floor outside the bottom of the crate (completely cover the floor with the cloth type pads) and place food and water in the crate on top of a corner of the cloth piddle pad (this is so the puppy has access to food and water at all times -- this might be the way you need to do this if you are not home during the day and have to have the puppy confined, then again at night). Keep this pen as clean as possible. You should notice that the puppy will naturally incline to an area to potty and then go back to another area to sleep. This will help you get the puppy to understand the crate is a sleeping place but also not a fearful place since there is no top. After you are confident that the puppy isn't pottying in the bottom of the crate, then add the top of the crate and continue to monitor to ensure the puppy isn't pottying in the crate. Once he is fully pottying outside the crate and resting in the crate, you can continue potty training normally and remove the xpen. When he is in the crate -- don't remove him forcefully, let this be his safe place/quiet place. Never use it as punishment either. Doing so will undermine all the training you are trying to do and make the crate a scary place, thus reinforcing the pottying.
Any of these ideas will take time and patience. Unfortunately it can take years to potty train an IG, sometimes several years but the average is 3 years to potty train. An 80% dependable IG is considered potty trained and they regress under stress or fear. Understanding this will assist you in determining how to move forward with your IG. These are wonderfully loving dogs that are very loyal to their owner but they have their quirks that make them very frustrating and potty training is the number 1 reason that IGs end up in shelters. Keep at it and don't get frustrated and you will succeed.
Good luck and I hope you enjoy your new family member!