I have started taking Zumba outside to go potty. I am not sure how to do this right, and have gotten conflicting info from the 'net. If she doesn't go when I take her outside, do I just put her back in the ex-pen, or do I put her in her crate to wait out the 15- 30 minutes before I try again?
The Florida sun has been brutal. I had her outside ex-pen in the sun, where she did her business every time when I'd put her there, but could not take her to that spot between 10am - 3:00pm because of the sun. I moved the ex-pen to the area to a shady area under a tree but she would NOT go in that area whatsoever. After trying for a whole day, I moved the ex-pen back over to the sunny spot and instant success! But that puts me back to the dilemma of how do people potty train their dogs in an unbearably hot climate? All I could come up with is an umbrella to cover both Zumba and me from the sun. Is that my only resort? Or accept that it will be outside when the weather is tolerable, and inside when it is too hot, the opposite of what some people do in colder or wetter climates?
Yesterday I was gone for a couple of minutes short of 3 hours and came back to a stressed Zumba. There were still people in the house - - my husband, my mom and a caretaker, and I know the caretaker and mom hang out in the kitchen, where they see Zumba, but I don't think they go in to pet her, but Zumba can definitely still hear there are people nearby and should be able to see them if she goes into the crate part of the set-up. They're just not me. She's fine with me leaving for awhile but she is used to seeing me at least every 1/2 hour, if nothing else for a "hello" and a rub. Though these last couple of weeks, I've been working with her, so we usually end up doing 5 - 10 minutes of some kind of training and fun before I go do something else for awhile. I was wondering if she would have been happier if I had crated her instead of leaving the crate open and with access to her ex-pen area? She is now almost 14 weeks old.
Thank you so much for your insights!
I think people get very confused when reading internet "potty training strategies" and working with an already litter box trained puppy. For some reason, they look on the use of the litter box as "not training" and going outside as "training". Think of it this way instead. Every time your puppy pees or poops where they are supposed to (inside or out) they have been successful in developing the proper habit. Every time they pee or poop in an inappropriate place, YOU have let them begin to start the WRONG habit.
I GUARANTEE you, that if you do NO "outdoor training" at all, and simply take your puppy outdoors on a regular basis for walks and play, that by a year old, you will have to start heavily reinforcing the litter box if it is important to you to keep that as an option. (it is to me, it's not to everyone, though I can't tell you the number of people who later wish that their dogs would still use the litter box for one reason or another)
Dogs almost always prefer to potty outdoors once they understand it and are given the opportunity. Even my dogs, who are all willing to use the litter boxes in a pinch, almost always choose the outdoor option if they have a choice. The only time they don't prefer outdoors is in a driving rain or if the snow is too deep for them to get through. Even then, they will ASK to go out, I open the door, they sigh, turn away and use the litter box instead.
So, if you want to offer her an outdoor opportunity periodically during the day, it sure won't hurt. But I would CERTAINLY not confine a puppy who was reliably clean in her pen and using her litter box appropriately, to a crate when she didn't potty, just to make sure she didn't use the litter box. What would be the purpose of that? Using the litter box is not a wrong choice.
In the meantime, you need to think about whether, long-term, you want to maintain litter box behavior or let it go. If you want to fade it, simply stop rewarding it, but make it available for those times that you miss the signal (or timing) to get her outside, and she needs it as a back-up for human failure. Eventually, without your encouragement and reinforcement, she WILL stop using it, and you can just decide to put it away. And in the meantime, she will have learned to go outdoors with very little effort on your part. BECAUSE
... she has learned where NOT to potty. And isn't THAT really what you want to accomplish?
As far as her upset when you were gone, I think you just needs to slowly work up to separations. ...And if she is strongly bonded to you, it may not matter whether there are "other people in the house". I have found with my three that the girls have developed much stronger "one person" bonds than Kodi ever has. Kodi loves everyone. He is MOSTLY strongly bonded to Dave and me, but I really think he is equally happy with either one of us. And you can leave him anywhere, with anybody, and he happily fits in there. Not that he's not THRILLED when we return, but I am fully convinced that if Dave and I died in a plane crash tomorrow, Kodi would quickly adapt to ANY new home where someone loved him.
The girls are different. When I'm away overnight, Panda visibly pines. To the extent that Dave lets her sleep in bed with him. The "dog hater".
Pixel is SOOOO sad when Dave is away (outside normal work hours) She loves me too, and loves to train with me, but she is, as we say, "The Daddy Dog".
So, especially with the girls, but with all three of them, we are very conscious of making sure they ALL experience being left home alone, left home with one other dog (also going out with just one or the other of us). But it's a process. It doesn't happen overnight, and something you have to always be conscious of and work on. As far as "where", I think, over time, you'll have to play with that, and decide where she is most comfortable. When Dave's not home overnight, Pixel is happiest in her cozy crate with her favorite stuffed animal. When I'm not home overnight, Panda is comforted by the closeness of being in bed with Dave. (she normally sleeps in a crate too) ALL our dogs (now that they are adults and potty training isn't an issue) are gated in my office together when we aren't home. Before they were potty trained, they were in an ex-pen with either a crate or a fluffy bed, water bottle and litter pan. But I also know many people whose dogs are definitely more comfortable crated when they are out of the house. Play around with it, and figure out what works best for her.