Potty Training Without a Crate
I love crate training. The crate is an invaluable tool during those challenging young puppy months. Proper use helps the puppy learn to “hold it” until it’s time to go outside, and prevents her from eating cords and furniture when you can’t supervise her. The crate might mean confinement for the puppy, but it means freedom for the human. Want to take a shower, cook a meal or work on the computer while you have a young puppy in the house? Give that pup a treat-stuffable activity toy and put her in the crate! I’ve endorsed crating for ages, so I had one ready to go when I brought young Olive home.
Young Olive had other ideas.
I was cocky after a flawless first night in the crate; she slept straight through and we all got seven hours of sleep! The second night was another story. She had fallen asleep on the couch next to us, so I carefully placed her inside the crate by our bed. The second the door shut she went ballistic. “Yip! Yip! Bark! Moan! Howl!”
“She’ll stop,” I told my husband. “This is normal. She’ll cry herself to sleep in a minute or two.” The two minutes stretched out into 10. Then 45. Then an hour.
I started to get worried. Hubby retreated to the family room to escape the piercing noise.
The crying finally died down to a whimper every few seconds. “Yes!” I thought. “We’re home free.”
No such luck. Olive kicked back into overdrive, and I started to tremble from exhaustion and frustration. The noise was torturous. Clearly crating wasn’t working for us.
The next day I attempted quick crate introductions in an effort to make it a pleasant hang out spot. I put a worn-out Olive in with a bone stuffed with peanut butter and went into the kitchen to clean up. Three minutes later she was back to keening, the bone kicked aside. When I got close I realized that she’d also peed in the crate, and was walking in it.
This wasn’t good.
My subsequent attempts at quick-crating resulted in similar outcomes; Olive wet from urine and distressed. The primary purpose of crating – teaching a puppy to hold it – wasn’t working. Olive had no problem soiling the crate no matter how limited her space in it. Rather than continue to attempt the crate training process and get us both upset by it, I opted to put it away.
Sadly, our crate-free options are inefficient and challenging, and I’m mourning not being able to use the crate.
Olive now sleeps in bed with us. Millie sleeps with us, and Olive would’ve ended up in bed sooner or later, but I really wanted her to earn that privilege. Knock on wood, she’s been a perfect sleeping companion. And very, very cuddly.
Since I don’t have the option of putting Olive in the crate when I’m working around the house, I either have to put her on a tether attached to my waist, or keep one eye on her and one eye on my task. Not easy. When I have to leave the house she goes into our small guest bathroom with Millie, an imperfect solution because she’s still able to eliminate in there. And she does, nearly every time I leave her, even if it’s only for 45 minutes and she just went outside before I left.
Because she eliminates even during short departures I believe there’s an element of distress behind the pottying. I’ve started her on a homeopathic remedy to ease her, hoping that a calmer puppy will be less likely to pee away her distress.
The takeaway from all of this? Potty training without a crate is not fun.