Ask the Vet: Crate Training Tips

| April 15, 2012

Dr. Lauren - Ask the VetDr. Lauren, a local veterinarian, answers user questions about pet health.

I have a 12 week old Lab puppy that is having accidents in my house. How do I use crate training to housebreak him?
Tyler Flemming – Venus, Pa.

Patience is the key when house training your new puppy! If you follow some basic instruction, almost every puppy can be trained in approximately one month.

First, the crate must be large enough so your puppy can stretch and lie down, but small enough so they cannot urinate or defecate in one corner and sleep in the other corner. If the crate is large you may have to partition it off to accommodate your puppy’s small size.

Next, your puppy should be in the crate any time he is unattended. This means when you go to sleep, when you leave the house or when you aren’t watching him, he should be in the crate. This is intended to teach them to “hold it” for a short periods of time.

While you are at home, it is okay to leave the puppy out of the crate, but set a timer for every 30-60 minutes. When the timer rings, take the pup out to eliminate, and reward him when he is successful. Positive reinforcement is the way to go. Do not be surprised if you take him outside, nothing happens, and when you come back in the house he has an accident on the kitchen floor.

If you continue to have problems training your little guy, consult your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical or behavioral problems.

My dog seems to be drinking more water. Is this because the weather is becoming warmer?
Greg Price – Oil City, Pa.

You should expect to see an increase in the amount your pet drinks in the warmer months, especially if he or she spends a lot of time outdoors. Pets need plenty of fresh water in the spring and summer months, but excessive drinking could be a sign of a problem.

Both dogs and cats regulate their body heat more through breathing than through sweat.  In fact, the only sweat glands they have are in their paws.  Evaporation of moisture through respiration is high and this moisture must be replaced.  
However, there is a point at which drinking is excessive, and could be an indication of a kidney or hormone problem.  As a general rule, no pet should drink more than one ounce of water per pound per day.  Thus an eight-pound toy poodle who drinks more than one cup of water in a day needs to have a check up, but a one hundred pound dog could drink a gallon in a day and still be well within normal.

Another clue to whether your pet’s water consumption is normal is their urine output.  If your dog is drinking more water to replace moisture lost in respiration, the urine volume should be the same as before.  If the urine volume is increased, it could indicate an illness.

Clients are frequently surprised to find their pet is suffering from chronic kidney failure when the pet is urinating prolifically.  Although in sudden and complete kidney failure, no urine is produced; in the chronic form of kidney failure we actually see an increase in the amount of urine voided.  This is because one of the kidney’s functions is to regulate the amount of water loss by concentrating the urine.  The failing kidney is unable to do this, so more water is lost in the form of a greater volume of urine. 

If you think your pet may be drinking too much or urinating too much, a urinalysis along with a blood chemistry profile is the testing protocol to find out.  This allows your veterinarian to screen for kidney disease, diabetes, and other diseases that may be causing excess thirst and urine production.

Have a question for Dr. Lauren? E-mail her at

Dr. Lauren, a native of Knox, PA, practices in a busy animal hospital in Butler, PA. She received her undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University in 2005 and her veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. Dr. Lauren treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits.

DISCLAIMER: Neither Explore Your Town, Inc. nor Dr. Lauren Smith will be held responsible for the outcome of any advice given on this website, as a true diagnosis and/or treatment cannot be given without a thorough physical exam and lab test results. Your submissions to this column hold you responsible for the fate of your pets and relieve the above aforementioned parties of all and any liabilities.

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Category: Ask the Vet, Local News