Q: I have a 3-month-old male Italian Greyhound. I’ve had him for three weeks now. He seems to know that he has to potty outside, but still goes in his crate. Every time I leave him in his crate I have a ‘surprise’ when I come home. I’m not gone for more than four hours at a time, and I come home for lunch to let him out when I’m working. The crate is just big enough for him to turn around, no bigger. He even lays in his own pee and poop. No matter what I do, he soils in his crate.
A: Most dogs won’t potty in their crate because they like to keep their bed area clean, which is why crates are often useful during housetraining. However, your little IG is one of the exceptions to that “rule.” You’ll need to find a different way to confine him when you’re out of the house because the crate obviously isn’t helping him learn clean manners. He needs a bigger space, with room for both a bed and a potty area, using either newspapers or commercial piddle pads.
Try a folding exercise pen instead of a crate, or keep him in the bathroom or laundry room where the floor is easily cleaned in case he happens to miss the potty papers. Put his bed at one end, along with his water bowl and a couple of toys, and put potty papers at the other end as far from the bed as space allows. This way he’ll have the option of moving away from his resting area when he needs to poop or pee.
At first, potty paper the whole area, except where his bed and water are. That way it will be hard for him to miss the papers by accident. Gradually, every few days or so, make the papered area a little bit smaller so there’s some bare floor between his bed and the potty papers. This will help him learn that they are two separate places.
While he’s learning cleaner potty behavior, skip using the crate altogether, because at this point, he may associate the crate with potty. And remember, Italian Greyhounds are built like coiled springs and can ‘leap tall buildings in a single bound,’ so be sure to use a tall pen or baby gate that he won’t be able to hop over and escape.