My boyfriend and I got our puppy three days ago , we have done just about everything on the list for crate training but I’m having a really hard time because we had to leave him at home in his crate for work. I’m nervous to leave him in there and have him upset and very stressed out. We unfortunately are unable to go home and visit him throughout the day due to our job locations and I’m having a lot of guilt. Is this normal?
Hello Taylor, Most puppies take up to two weeks to adjust to being in the crate. It's important to give them the opportunity to learn to self-sooth and self-entertain in the crate, and you don't want to let him out while he is crying unless he needs to go potty. Instead, wait until he is quiet for a second, then return to him while you practice during the day. Since you are gone for most of the day, you can practice for 30 minutes in the evening and on the weekend. In addition to the methods you have already followed, you can also follow the "Surprise" method from the article I have linked below. It is similar to the Crate for Food method you read but just goes into more details. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Check out the Crate Training method for potty training when you are home as well. Follow those times listed when you are home, and every 2-3 hours with a dog walker at this age while you are home. The general rule is that a puppy can hold their bladders for the number of months they are in age plus one - meaning 3 hours at 2 months, then 4 hours at 3 months, and 5 hours at 4 months. Remember those are the maximum times under ideal circumstances not the ideal times while you are home. Ideally he would go out twice as often as those times while still learning to help him learn faster. When you have to leave be sure to give him a dog food stuffed hollow chew toy, like a Kong. You can even place his food into a bowl, cover it with water, and let it sit out until the food turns to mush, then mix a little peanut butter (Avoid Xylitol- it's toxic) or cheese or liver paste into the mush, then loosely stuff the Kong and freeze it overnight. You can make several of these ahead of time to grab as needed, and even feed him his meals just from Kongs right now if you want to. I am assuming you have something set up for potty training and him being able to go potty while you are gone. The main issue with crating him for that long without you returning is his small bladder. A puppy his age under ideal circumstances cannot hold his bladder for longer than 2.5-3 hours during the day. At night he will be able to go about twice that long if he stays asleep. You will either need to hire a dog walker to come that often to take him potty or set up an indoor potty area for him. If you decide to indoor potty train him, then I suggest setting up an exercise pen, connecting it to the crate so that he can go into the crate to sleep when he chooses to, and placing a disposable real grass pad on the end of the exercise pen furthest from the crate - dogs don't like to eat or sleep near where they potty. Use the Exercise Pen method from the article linked below to teach him to use the grass pad when you are home. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Real grass pad - the exercise pen method mentions litter box training but you can use a real grass pad instead to better mimic outside potty areas: https://www.freshpatch.com/products/fresh-patch-standard?variant=3477439297¤cy=USD&gclid=CjwKCAjw04vpBRB3EiwA0IieanLFLdgb5wXwlO_UdxdPB08FZAvRvyoRn14MHmLRTe3MQIhVdjCELhoCR8kQAvD_BwE If you intend to train him to potty outside, the ideal scenario is to hire someone to take him potty during the day - to make potty training more effective, rather than starting with grass pads then switching, if you have the option of hiring someone to take him potty. Whatever you do, do not simply leave him in the crate to go potty in there. Dogs have a natural desire to hold their bladders and bowels in a confined space, so he will attempt to keep it clean, will fail because of his age and the length of time he is left in there, then be soiled all day and eventually loose his desire to hold it in a confined space - which will make potty training incredibly difficult for you, since potty training is mostly based on that natural desire to hold it in their 'home'. Assuming you have potty training needs taken care of while you are gone, and are just feeling guilty for leaving him in the crate while you are away - you are not alone! Most pet owners who care for their pets struggle with the idea of leaving their pup in a crate, especially during the early days while pups are still adjusting. One thing that can help is to understand why you are crating your pup. When used correctly crate training help you effectively potty train, it prevents destructive chewing, prevents separation anxiety, prevents boredom and territorial barking (if away from windows and given a food stuffed chew toy), and helps your pup learn to self-entertain, self-sooth, and be calmer in the house. Many dogs die from ingesting things they shouldn't during heavy chewing phases (during teething and later jaw development during the first year), and are given up because of issues that could have been prevented with crate training. A pup that is crate trained while unsupervised and supervised while free during the first 1-2 years of their life can often be trusted out of the crate for the next 10+ years because bad habits were prevented while young. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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