Crate training is the easiest and most effective way to teach a dog to eliminate outside. If the dog is properly introduced to the crate at an early age, many dogs learn to love spending quiet time in their crate. Other dogs never “love” the crate, but most can tolerate it. For most dogs, crate training not only helps with housetraining, but it can also protect the health of the dog and prevent destruction of household items. Some dogs may whine and bark in protest, but unless the dog is physically injuring himself, with a little time, patience and positive reinforcement, he will adjust.
EVERY DOG IS DIFFERENT: Some dogs prefer solid, plastic travel crates because it feels more “den-like” and secure; others don’t like to feel confined and do better with a wire crate. Some dogs never stop barking if they can see a person, but quiet down immediately when left alone in a room; others freak out when left alone, but are fine if the crate is placed near other dogs or people. Try purchasing one of each variety of crate (wire and plastic) and placing one in the bedroom and one in the basement or other living space. Experiment with different intervals of time utilizing each crate and see which crate and which space the dog prefers. Escape artists or extreme chewers are typically more easily able to bend the bars and get out of a wire crate, so if your dog has no strong preference, plastic crates are more secure. Alternatively, try reinforcing the outside edges of the wire crate using cable ties or carabiner clips.
NEVER USE THE CRATE AS PUNISHMENT: A common error novice dog owners make is to put the dog in the crate for a “time out” when the dog has a house training accident in the house. But try to think like a dog. The dog is thinking, "I have to poop. I have to poop. This person seems not to want me to poop, and if I poop, she puts me in the box I hate. So I'll go poop where she can't see me because I don't want her to get mad and put me in the box.” Dogs have to poop and they need to know it is ok to poop, but that they have to poop where you show him it’s ok to poop. By putting the dog in the crate when he poops, you are sending him the message that he shouldn't poop on the floor, he should poop in the crate. He knows he doesn't want to poop in the crate, so he is just confused and doesn't know what to do. You need to give him an acceptable alternative when he does a negative behavior. If you see the dog start to have a potty accident in the house, clap your hands or make any loud sound to distract him and take him immediately outside. If he resumes pottying outside, give the dog treats and praise and lots of positive reinforcement so that he knows outside is the acceptable place to potty.
Only Correct Housetraining Accidents if the Dog is “CAUGHT IN THE ACT”: If the dog slips away and after the fact, you discover a pile of poop or a puddle of pee in the other room, clean it up and pretend it never happened. DO NOT “rub the dog’s nose in it” or point at the poop and yell at him. Dogs do not associate the previous action of eliminating in the house with you disapproving unless you stop them in the act of eliminating in the house. Otherwise, the dog just knows you are mad, but has no idea why. In order to prevent housetraining accidents that you don’t see, NEVER let a dog that is in the process of housetraining out of your sight. If you are not watching the dog closely, put him in his crate or keep him on a leash even while in the house. Tether the dog to your chair, your wrist, or your belt so that he cannot sneak into the other room and poop while you are not looking. Also, if he starts to have a potty accident in the house, the leash is already on him enabling you to take him IMMEDIATELY outside and hope he continues out there. Each accident inside the house is not only an accident to clean up but a missed chance for positive reinforcement. The more positive reinforcement, the quicker they will catch on.
FEED ALL MEALS IN THE CRATE: Feeding a dog in the crate accomplishes two things:
1.) Dog will associate positive things (food) with the crate, which will make him less reluctant to go inside. You can further build this relationship by offering high value treats in the crate only.
2.) Establishes a strict schedule and sets expectations: After each meal, crate the dog for about 45 minutes and then take him immediately outside. This will get him used to a strict potty schedule so that hopefully he has to go when you take him out and he learns that that is the routine to expect.
NEVER LET CHILDREN PLAY INSIDE A DOG’S CRATE: The crate should be the safe place a dog feels comfortable in taking refuge (especially if he needs to take a break from little ones tugging on his tail and ears. Even the most patient dog has his limits. Respect those boundaries and teach children to respect the dog’s boundaries as well.
Smell is a Dog’s Most Powerful Sense: Dogs poop where they smell that they or other dogs have pooped before. By picking up a bit of the dog’s poop and placing it outside, near the door where you want the dog to poop is a hint to let the dog know that the spot with the poop is where he should go. This may be gross, but it is highly effective. It is also important to remove as much of the smell of where he has eliminated in your house as possible. You need a cleaner that is specially formulated for biological waste (like Nature's Miracle.) You can buy these products at any pet supply store.