Crate Training & Potty Training

Crate training and potty training go hand in hand.  How?  Crate training not only teaches your pup that it can stay/sleep in a safe confined space but it also helps the puppy learn to hold urine and feces until it is let out to go to the bathroom.  By gradually increasing the length of time that the pup is left in the crate, the puppy learns to “hold it” longer.   A good rule of thumb is that your pup will be able to “hold it” approximately 1 hour for each month of age, so a 2 month old puppy can hold it for 2 hours while a 4 month old puppy can hold it or 4 hours.

How do I work on potty training when my puppy is not fully vaccinated?

Your puppy will be litter box trained when you get it.  Litterbox training teaches puppies that there is a place to go to the bathroom and a place not to go to the bathroom.  This trains puppies to be clean and want to keep their living space clean.

Litterbox training is not a substitute for potty training.  You can keep a litterbox in the puppy pen if you are going to be gone during the day but you will want to start training your puppy to go to a specific place to go to the bathroom and to hold it. 

Your puppy has been using a litterbox filled with Alfalfa pellets since the age of 3 weeks.  They associate the smell of Alfafa with a bathroom so I will send home a small baggie of clean Alfalfa pellets that you can sprinkle where you want them to go to the bathroom.  This will work whether you are training in a backyard or somewhere else.

So how do you work on potty training when your puppy can not go where other dogs may have been?

If you have a backyard: As long as your yard is fenced so that no other dogs can get in, start right away by taking your puppy out into your fenced backyard.  Remember to sprinkle the Alfalfa pellets in the area where you want them to go.
If you live in an apartment or do not have a private backyard: I have had many past buyers successfully potty train their puppy while living in an apartment.  The main objective will be for the puppy to learn that it needs to go to a certain area when it needs to go to the bathroom. 
 I have had people line the inside of their balcony with fencing (to prevent the puppy from getting out) and use a litter box or a grass pad on the balcony.  Others will place the litterbox or grass pad near the door on top of a waterproof surface.  Either way, it can be successfully accomplished.  

Crate Training 101

Puppies raised in the right environment are very clean animals and do not want to sleep where they go to the bathroom.  That is why crate training works.  If you start with a crate that is the right size, just enough room to sleep, your puppy will not want to go to the bathroom in their sleeping area.  If you purchased the crate that I suggested from our suggested products page, it comes with a divider.  You simply snap in the divider giving the puppy just enough room to sleep.  The nice thing about this design is that you can move the divider as the puppy grows and you only need one crate.

Your puppy is way ahead of most pups are far as crates go because they were already sleeping in a crate with the doors open. They should transition to sleeping in the crate easily.  You will want to make the crate a safe fun place.  I suggest placing several items that I sent home in the crate such as the blanket that smells mom, toys that smell like their littermates and several chew items in the crate.

If you are working on making the crate a safe place during the day, you can drop treats into the crate. At night you will want to put your pup in its crate after it has gone to the bathroom.  It also helps if the pup eats around 3 hours before bedtime.  If your pup is a water gulper who drinks just to drink, take up their water around 2 hours before bedtime. If he is a normal drinker, limit water an hour before bedtime.  Remember that when pups play hard they will need more water just like humans playing sports. 

Corgi puppy in a crate

A good rule of thumb is that your pup will be able to “hold it” approximately 1 hour for each month of age, so a 2 month old puppy can hold it for 2 hours while a 4 month old puppy can hold it or 4 hours.

At this age your puppy will only be able to “hold it” for about 2-2.5 hours.

It is normal for puppies to cry or whine the first few times they are placed in the crate.  When your pup whines, you can dangle your fingers into the crate and let the pup lick your fingers. 

Do NOT take the puppy out because they are whining or crying! 
If you take your puppy out, you just trained the puppy that if you cry you will get out.

Potty Training

So crate training will be used to train your pup to hold it longer.  What do you do when you take you pup out of the crate?  Carry it to the bathroom spot immediately.

No matter if you have a backyard or not it is important that your puppy knows where to go to the bathroom.  Your puppy is litterbox trained to alfalfa pellets so they are used to going to the bathroom in a specific place.  If you do not have a backyard you will need to choose a safe bathroom place for your pup to go to the bathroom until they have been fully vaccinated and can go outside where other dogs have been.  I have worked with owners living in apartments who have used grass pads, litter boxes or pee pads to train their pup until fully vaccinated.  

I sent home a baggie with alfalfa pellets.  Your puppy associates the scent of the alfalfa pellets with a bathroom so if you sprinkle these pellets where you want your pup to go they will associate that area as their bathroom.

So pick up you pup and rush them to the bathroom area when you see signs.  If you are going outside make sure to attach their leash.  When they do their business give them lots of praise and yummy treats to reinforce that correct behavior.

For more info on potty training watch the Zak George video in the link below.

Signs that your puppy needs to go

Your puppy will not constantly be in a crate so what signs should you look for to indicate that they need to go to the bathroom or when will they need to go out?

Signs that your pup needs to go to the bathroom

  • circling
  • sniffing the floor
  • whining
  • an abrupt change in play or behavior
  • door scratching
  • returning to an area where they went before

Puppies will need to go to the bathroom after

  • they wake up
  • after they eat or drink
  • after playing

***Make sure that your puppy is not drinking water because it is hot.***  You can not remove water from a dog that is hot or they will get dehydrated and will require medical attention. 

How do you know if they are hot?  You will see them panting.  Hot dogs will not want to sleep in a bed or on a blanket.  They will prefer to sleep on a cool surface such as a tile, concrete or wooden floors.

As cute as they are, Corgis do NOT need clothes, sweaters or coats.  Just because you are cold does not mean that they are cold.  Remember that they have a double coat to insulate them.  As a side note I had a client years ago who dressed their pup in a sweater because it was Christmas.  The problem was that they were located in a warm climate and while the dog was wearing a sweater they were wearing shorts.  To make a long story short, the pup got into a large bowl of water meant for another dog and drank so much water that he had to be treated by an emergency vet for water intoxication.  They did not believe that he would live but thankfully he pulled through.  I tell this true story to emphasize that Corgis are not like Dachshunds or Chihuahuas – they do NOT need clothes.   Dogs that are too hot will need more water and it will be harder to crate and potty train them too.

Need more help?

These videos have some great tips.  Please note that your puppy is much farther ahead than the dogs here but the concepts will still work.  

Interested in bell training?

Bell training your puppy to ring a potty bell when they need to go outside is very helpful.  One of our dogs is bell trained and it is wonderful because you know exactly when he needs to go outside. It is easy to train most Corgis to use a potty bell and well worth your time.