Gunner is our 6 month old black lab puppy. We had a lot of difficulty potty training him in his crate early on. In fact he was peeing in the house and occaisionally his crate every 1-2 weeks until he was about 4.5 months. We were so happy that he FINALLY made it a month and a half with no accidents. However, today my wife checked his crate pad and found a dried urine stain from who knows when. We do check it periodically, so it was likely from within the last week or so. It should be noted that we moved into a new house this past week. I could almost understand if he peed in the house with all of it's new sights and smells. But why in the crate? It is supposed to be his safe haven.
A second problem we have been dealing with is his constant whining in the crate in the morning. He will generally begin whining around 4:30 a.m. and continue until someone lets him out. I try to never let him out if he is actively whining, but ignoring him does not seem to be helping. Last night he began whining at 3 a.m. and continued every couple of minutes until 5:15 when I got up. How should I address this behavior?
Gunner gets a 15-20 minute walk every morning, and a 20-30 minute walk every night. He is crated from 8am-noon, 1pm-4:30, and at night from about 10:30pm-5:15am. He seems to sleep and behave well all day long and for most of the night. We play with him in the yard or in the house as much as we can in the evenings. I am afraid he is beginning to not like his crate. He is never excited to go in it, even when he is tired. In fact he generally mopes his way to the crate, walking as slow as he possibly can every time I tell him to "kennel up!".
When odie was that young he would regularly whine in the crate at night. It meant he needed to go outside. After he went outside and relieved himself he was quiet. As for the unhappiness in the crate, it probably means he thinks of the crate as an unhappy place.
Your job is to make it happy place to be. Praise him and treat him whenever he goes in it. Make it a great place to be. Odie is a little over a year old now, and he loves his crate. Every day when I leave for work he runs in the crate without even being told. I don't even lock the door. He has free roam of the house, but he still chooses to lay down in the crate.
You could also try giving him a stuffed kong, marrow bone, or rawhide if you choose in the crate while you are home. Lock him up in the crate so he can't pick the treat up and move somewhere else and just let him enjoy it in the crate. Labs are usually very food crazy so he should cooperate with this move. The whole point is to make the crate a great place to be. Not an unfun place where he goes at night or when your gone.
Trust me. I have a dog that loves his crate more than any other place in the house. It's his little house.
as for the stain you found in the crate. I wouldn't worry about it. When they are that young, they have accidents. At 6 months it shouldn't be frequent accidents, but there will be one here and there.