Kennel training is driving me crazy. I have read article after article on the subject and I have a few unanswered questions. For example, I see a LOT of people saying that you need to take your puppy outside after playing, eating, napping, etc. so when exactly are they NOT outside?

It seems like everyone's answers are to have your puppy outside to pee 24/7 so that is really confusing to me. Also, my 8 week old puppy (who I have been trying to kennel train for a little over a week) does go to the bathroom in her kennel. She pees in it. By the way she is a chiweenie pup... very clingy and in my face.

At first, I put her in the kennel with a blanket over it and she cried a lot, but eventually fell asleep. So when she woke up whining I figured I should take her to potty, since she had just been sleeping and that's a suggestion for when to take them out, right? It seemed OK, but she was also peeing in her kennel, even though she would go outside too.

Now she seems to have learned that if she cries, I'll take her outside and she cries every hour. How am I supposed to know when to take her out and when she is just trying to get out of her kennel?

Next thing I'm really frustrated about is that I HAVE to be outside with her. She won't eat, drink, use the bathroom or play if I'm not out there with her.

When will she (if ever) feel comfortable enough with being outside alone to do these things?

Even when I sit outside with her while she runs around, mostly she just wants to sit on my lap instead of doing her business. She is so insanely clingy.

I love my puppy and I'm not trying to complain or make anyone think I'm not really trying, but I also believe that a dog is a dog, and not a child; and shouldn't be treated like a helpless baby all the time. Many dogs never get to go in their owners' houses and are still good, loving dogs. I'm just so frustrated.

Can anyone explain crate training to me better? Not just to take the puppy outside after eating, drinking, playing, chewing, training, sleeping, etc.?

  • 2
    8 weeks old, and you have been trainign long enough for frustration? When was the puppy seperated from the mother? 8 weeks is really the minimum for seperation. Question about the actual problem: How did you introduce the puppy to the crate, and is your puppy entering by itself, or do you have to force her in in any way? And how long was she in there in the beginning?
    – Layna
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 8:44
  • This is a good point I didn't pick up. 8 weeks should mean you've only had the pup a couple of days? Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 11:11
  • 1
    FWIW you take the puppy outside and once it eliminates then you can bring it back inside. Also it will be at least 16 weeks before your dog has full control of his eliminations. Some dogs can take 20-24 weeks. There are going to be accidents. The trick is to notice the signs and get them outside and train them to go outside when they need to eliminate.
    – Critters
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 22:24
  • 1
    Maybe your crate is too big, maybe you are giving it too much water at night time. Your pup is still very very young, and you should not expect it to know what's going on at this time. Always praise the pup after it pees outside, give her a treat or what not. Her crate should be just small enough to fit her in comfortably. You could attach an exercise pen to her crate so she can get out of her crate and pees outside of it.
    – Huangism
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 19:25

3 Answers 3


I have a 6 month old Springer Spaniel, so a few months ago, I was in your position, and going a bit nuts.

I understood the purpose of crate training as being to only allow the dog to go toilet outside. In my experience, it is IMPOSSIBLE to achieve this at 8 weeks. Dogs at that age can only hold in their bladders for approximately 2 hours. I was up all night with her whimpering and taking her outside and then trying to get her to settle and go back to sleep, and it was REALLY stressful and tiring. As you say: how do you know if she's crying because she needs to go wee, or whether she's just crying because she wants some attention, which you should ignore?

The solution was to split her crate into two: one half a toilet area and the other half a bed. (Obviously you need a crate big enough for this). We used cardboard boxes from the supermarket (which were remarkably exactly half the size of the crate) with a puppy training pad in it for the toilet (you could use newspaper).

With this in place, the whimpering started to stop at night, and she'd do her business in the box. We could feel comfortable ignoring the whimpering now because we knew she could go to the toilet.

During the day, we would take her outside at all of the recommended times: after eating/ play session etc etc - (i.e. every couple of hours) and make a HUGE deal when she went to the toilet, giving her a good treat and saying either the words "Wee Wee" or "Poo Poo" so that she makes a connection. This process only took about 1-2 weeks before she would go to the door and bark when she needed the toilet. If we come back home to her and say "Do you want wee wee's?" she'll go to the back door. Admittedly, she is a VERY smart dog, so yours might take longer depending on breed.

As she got older and her bladder developed (around 4 months/16 weeks old) she no longer used the toilet in her crate at night. So we removed it and made the crate a big bed. This was good timing as she was becoming too big for only half the crate as a bed.

So my advice: do not try to get your dog to only go outside at this age. Its too much to expect and you'll go mad trying to deal with her at night.


I may edit when you have answered the questions in the comment. A start from what I gather from your post:

You puppy well may be clingy because she was separated too early. 8 weeks should be minimum, 12 weeks are better.. but that is a whole different matter, I am just mentioning it because you said she is very clingy :).

Regarding the crate: Restart!
If the kennel can be moved, move it somewhere else, at least change the interior if you can, that should make it easier. Then: encourage the puppy to enter by herself. Put in some food, or give her a treat when she is in.
During this training, be calm. You want her to relax in there, so she should be in a relaxed mood.
At first, do NOT close the door. Once she is comfortable, close the door for a bit, then open it again, before she wants out. It is not a place where she has to be, it is her happy, relaxed, napping place.

When to take her out for peeing is, at least in my opinion (dog training seems to me a matter where 3 experts have 4 opinions!), a different question. First, you make her happy with her crate, then you move on to "potty-training". Separating these two in your mind may make things easier and more manageable for you.

All the best for you and your puppy, and no matter how frustrating it is: always focus on the positives in training. It will help both you (because you see the improvement) and your dog (positive reinforcement is a great tool).


There are lots of ways you can go about crate training/house training and there is a lot of advice out there. I can understand how it would be confusing. So lets start with the purpose of doing this training. Ideally, you'll want you dog to only use the bathroom outside of your home. You'd also like to be able to close her in her kennel at night, so that she isn't roaming around tearing things up.

Now, how do we go about this and what are our challenges? A major challenge is that your dog is still a puppy and it hasn't developed the musculature to physically hold it's eliminations. Animals don't evacuate before birth. They have a thick waste called meconium. They evacuate this after they are born and from that point on, they have to work the muscles responsible for preventing them from using the bathroom. So think of it as if you started working out and someone who had been doing it for a long time started giving you a hard time. It's not fair to expect them to hold it for long periods of time, especially for several weeks.

Moving forward under that assumption, we have to determine whether we want to crate training and potting training to be together or separate. I'd opt for separate as there is a lot of frustration involved with potty training and you don't want those feelings to leak over and be associated with the crate. I would advise you to purchase and exercise pen and put the crate inside of it or tie the panels to the edge of the kennel. Put all of that on an easily cleanable surface and put puppy pads in the exercise pen. By doing this, you'll allow her to sleep and have good associations with the kennel and also have a place to go if she absolutely can't hold it.

You asked when the dog wasn't outside and the answer is as rarely as possible. Again, it's building an association. We're going into this with the knowledge that there are absolutely going to be accidents. We just want to limit them. Think of it like a scale. Every time you dog potties in the house, you put a marble on the left scale, every time it goes outside, you put one in the right scale, and when the right scale touches the table, she's potty trained. Something else to keep in mind is that the marbles get lighter as time goes on. By that I mean that whatever she does the most of when she's little is what she'll remember most strongly, so if she goes inside a lot as a puppy, she's more likely going to have accidents as an adult. That's why you want to go out as much as possible, and all the triggers you mentioned are excellent. Those are when the dog is most likely to go to the bathroom, the same as most people need to go when they get up first thing in the morning.

As to how to actually potty train. Basically, you provide as many opportunities to go outside as possible. If you catch her going inside, try to get her outside. Clean all inside messes with a product specifically designed to eliminate the smell, as dogs naturally want to go where they've been before. Don't leave her loose unsupervised in the house. You can put her in the exercise pen when you can't watch her. Most importantly, don't scold her. It does no good and can damage your relationship. At most, if I catch one trying to go inside, I say "no" in a calm voice, and take them outside. If they keep having "accidents" I reduce their roaming space. You may let her have the run of the house and her not have any accidents for a while, then have to reduce her space back to one room, because she starts going in the other room. It's give and take, you can expect a little back sliding from time to time. That's about it.

As for crate training, I think this method benefits it. Everyone says to take crate training slow and shut the door for seconds and build on that, but everyone also says to shut them inside it all night the first night and ignore their whining. This is the best of both worlds. You can slowly build the time the dog is shut in, yet still have a place where she can potty appropriately in an emergency. This will let you completely ignore any whining she does with out it grinding on your nerves or feelings. It's crucial that you don't let your dog out if she's whining and bouncing around, because just like training any other behavior, she'll learn. If she bounces and whines and you let her out, she thinks that's the behavior that gets her out, just the same as she believes sitting gets her a treat. If I go to open the cage and the dog is whining, I'll walk away and come back in 5min. I'll repeat as long as necessary. Giving your dog something calming to do, like chewing a rawhide, versus a squeaky toy, which would wind her up. These kinds of things teach her to want to be in there. A kennel is not a place to lock your dog away, it's a place where she can go that's just hers, like her bedroom. She isn't bothered or harassed there, she can just be in peace. You want to make it the same as you going to bed at night to rest, not like sending a child to time out in their room.

Lastly, for the clinging, you just have to find a way to not feel like a bad person and put her down off of you and ignore her. It might pull at your heart strings and she may whine and bark, but you need to ignore it the same as with the kennel. It's for a long term benefit. She'll knock it off and start becoming more confident eventually. You should also slowly build her confidence by introducing stimulus and letting her become accustomed to it. Don't take her to petsmart the first week. Bring home some junk from the dollar store that she might not be comfortable with, like balloons and other junk. Remember, that just like with potty training, early development sticks, so if you let her do a lot of bad habits because she's a puppy and will grow out of them, then they'll be the most ingrained behavior. I don't expect anything close to perfection, but I do start behaviors and build on them, like sitting before I put food down, letting me go through a door first, not going inside or outside through a door without an invitation, etc... If you start excellent behaviors and build on them, you'll have a really good dog and the inverse is true as well. Good luck.

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