I have a 12 week old puppy. We've had her since she was 8 weeks old, and we're crate training her. She seemed to be making a lot of progress at first with potty training (being asked to be let outside, etc) but in the last week it's almost like she's getting worse. She's averaging 1 accident inside a day now, and I can't figure it out (she used to maybe have an accident every 4 days). I think she knows when she needs to pee, but just gets confused. We have in in the basement (finished basement, it's where I work during the day, and it's where the walkout to the backyard is) and have been introducing her to other parts of the house in the last 2 weeks. She had a few accidents where she got away from us for a second (went up the stairs to the main floor, turned the corner, couldn't see us, and popped a squat in the middle of the room), and now seems to think that floor is a viable place to pee. A few days ago, while we were downstairs, she tried to get back up to that floor, but the door was closed (she couldn't get off the stairs). Instead of turning around and coming back down, she peed on the stairs themselves (I didn't see it, I was a few seconds behind her, I swear she's like the phantom pee-er). Just now (we now have the stairs going up blocked, so she can't even start up the stairs) she tried to get through the block (which she does sometimes). When I stopped her/she figured she couldn't do it, she popped a squat right in front of me and started peeing, despite the fact that she the door outside was about 10 feet behind her! Of course I stopped her, said "Outside" (which prompted her to run to the door), let her out and she peed no problem.
The strange part is, if she is upstairs with us (in the room she seems to think is OK to pee in) she won't actually pee, she'll ask us to come downstairs with her to let her out, then she'll pee. So I have no idea what's going on in her mind. She also went to a few different houses over the weekend, so maybe that, combined with the strange layout of our house (it's a backsplit, so lots of half floors) is confusing her?
I guess my question for those of you far wiser in the ways of the lab is, what should I be expecting? Is the fact that she's 12 weeks old and still having accidents bad? Are we doing something wrong? Are we expecting too much from a puppy this age, or are we expecting too little? My biggest fear is not knowing what should happen when, so not knowing whether what she's doing is normal puppy stuff, or stuff that we have to be worried about and correct now, or she'll be burdened for life with our poor training skills. Also, we've read Ian Dunbar's books about "errorless training", so now whenever she pees inside at all we feel INCREDIBLY guilty, like we've somehow failed in this whole process.
It sounds to me like this puppy is maybe getting a little too much freedom. When she is out and about in your living space you need to be directly supervising her. Watching her 100% and staying near her. When she starts showing a visual cue that she is about to pee you need to scoop her up and bring her outside. Doing this consistently will make a difference quickly. When she does pee outdoors - celebrate it. Dogs will work for reward and have an inate desire to please.
When you can't directly supervise the puppy (which should be most of the time) you should crate her.
If she has been having accidents in the house you need to ensure that the places she has peed are cleaned with a cleaner that neutralizes the odor - not all cleaners can do this. You need to use something like peroxide, vinegar or Natures Miracle to get the spot odor free (to the sensitive nose of a dog). Otherwise, the spot will continue to send a message to the puppy that this is a good spot to pee.
It's a lot of work for a couple of weeks until she really understands that the desired behavior is peeing ourdoors and she has an inhibition to peeing in the house. The less effort you put in - the longer it takes to accomplish. And - feeling guilty is really not useful. I am sorry you got that from reading Dunbar's book. Every day is a new lesson and there is no score keeping here. You do the best you can and ask questions as you go. You will get it and so will your dog!
Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.
that's the thing, she isn't actually getting much freedom. The times she has peed, we have been seconds behind her (coming up the stairs after her), so we are trying to watch her every second she's not in the crate. Half the time she pees, she does so in front of us when we're watching her. Part of the problem is, she no longer actually exhibits the signs she used to. In the beginning, it was easy, she would sniff around a bit, watch in circles, become distracted, you knew exactly when she was going to pee. Now, she just pops a squat. Same with outside, she'll go outside, grab a stick or something in her mouth, take two steps then squat and pee (looking at you with the stick in her mouth).
It could be that she has a urinary tract infection which is making her pee more often and with little notice. You might want to catch a sample and get it checked at the vet.
Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.
I work from home too, and I didn't like the idea of leaving Bauer in his crate all day when he could hear me in the house (I eventually got over this ). He was quick and could get away from me in a second, so I tethered him to me during the day. I wore a jogging leash that went around my waist, and he was never more than 4 feet from me. It did make potty training easy. I caught his cues, and we went outside often. I started it for potty training and keeping him close to me during the day, but it also really helped with leash manners. He had no choice but to follow me around the house, and it transferred really easily when we were on walks as well. Now, almost 5 years later, he still thinks he is tethered to me. He is rarely more than 4 feet away.
Debi and Bauer
Some people are like slinkies. Not really good for much, but bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.
Hmm, that's actually a good point. The problem is, we haven't had her for long enough to really tell what her habits are, but not that you mention it, she peed in her crate last night (which she hasn't done for 3 weeks), she sometimes is peeing twice in a row, and she's peeing in places that she never would have before. We'll make an appointment for her, thanks for the advice.