Puppy’s first day: The most important thing!

House training a dog can be frustrating and monotonous. In and out, where is the puppy, what time did he last go out? All questions that you will be asking yourself until your puppy is about 5 months old. With an older rescue dog, this process can go much quicker if your new dog has some foundation in housebreaking. Consistency is key in this process, so make sure your entire family is on board. An accident is not the puppies fault, it’s your fault for not seeing the signs or adjusting your expectations of your puppy.

1. Manage your expectations
As a first step, do an assessment of how well your dog can control his bladder and bowels when he’s not in the crate. With an older dog, plan to take them out every two hours for the first few days, with puppies younger than 8 months, every hour that they are not napping. Keep in mind that your puppy can “hold it” for his age in months plus one. (example: 12 week old puppy can hold it for 4 hours in his crate.)

2. Keep up with what your pup is doing.

x-pens are great for giving your puppy a play area while you get some work done

Keeping eyeballs on your puppy at all times is key for successful house train

ing. If your puppy can wander off and have an accident then they will keep wandering off to that same space. If you have to get things done and cannot keep your eyeballs on your pup, then crate him for a short time, or tether him to you.

3. Throw a party for your puppy
How excited will you be when you realize your pup is house trained? Really excited! Make sure that level of excitement is shown to your pup when they “go” outside. Throw your puppy a party that will make the neighbors wonder what you are doing. (Acting like a fool means you will be a great dog trainer, but that’s a blog post for another day) Have your cookie ready for your puppy before you go outside. Many people want to come back inside and give their puppy a cookie but by that time your puppy has completely forgotten what they are doing, and why they are getting the cookie.

4. When accidents happen
Clean the crate and any bedding so it is free of any scent from urine or feces. Use Natures Miracle or another cleaner with an enzyme that will break down the proteins in the urine. Dogs noses are way better than ours so an odor eliminator will not do the trick.
Whatever you do, don’t punish your dog for accidents. This will cause the puppy to want to hide from you when they have to go. If your puppy party is good, then your puppy will want you to come outside with them when they need to go. Which is exactly what you want them to do!

Puppy Bells
Bells on the door are a great training tool if your “potty door” is not in a common area. If you find that your pup is going to the door and sitting, and you can’t see him, then a bell might be your answer. When you get your bells, ring them yourself before opening the door to let puppy out. After a few days of this, encourage puppy to touch the bell to get you to open the door. Soon your puppy will learn that bell means the door opens (basic classical conditioning!). If you find that puppy begins to ring the bells to go outside to play, make sure you are ignoring the play behavior outside until they have taken care of business. If puppy only wants to play, then they go back inside for a quick time out in the crate, and straight back outside once let out.

Time management: the overwhelm is real!

Y’all I am overwhelmed. Life is getting in the way of doing the things I want to do and something has got to give. For those who don’t know, the hubs and I just got back from our honeymoon in the UK and we just bought a house. Because I can’t do just one thing at a time, we found the house 2 weeks before we left, and closed on it the day after we got home.

England was so pretty! This is outside of Buckingham Palace.

(I also brought Cargo home 4 weeks before our wedding day. I like things complicated. He knew what he was getting into.) The new house does not have a fence yet so I have been walking my dogs 4 or 5 times a day in the rain and bugs which takes up about 2 hours of my day, then unpacking, and getting everyone settled has been stressful to say the least.

Because just getting through the day is enough for me right now, my dog training has taken a back seat. Poor Cargo has done a few days of conditioning, but most of her training has been searching for her dinner, and walking around the new park in our neighborhood. (I can tell you she is not happy about it and this fence cannot get here fast enough.) The other two can handle a few days of not training so they are not happy but coping better than the puppy.

I keep telling myself this will not last forever. I just need a few more days to get back on track and then things will get better. And that’s okay. Sometimes we just don’t have time to train our dogs. I still love them, and they are getting the minimum that they need right now. Things will change when I have time to get myself organized and we will get back on track. I know life happens for you guys too and I understand that dog training sometimes has to take a back seat to life. When it happens forgive yourself for not giving everything 100% and try to do better when you can.

For now, I am making sure I plan my sessions and take advantage of the little bit of time I do have for them. I have made a list of the bare minimum life skills that I need to do with each of them, and if I have

Ball makes everything okay!

3 seconds, I go to that list. I will literally grab a handful of kibble and reward downs on the mat in the kitchen for that handful, or ring the doorbell and reward quiet (our last house didn’t have a doorbell). 10 kibbles is better than nothing,and having 2 life skills that I need to work on right now will get me through until I can plan their agility, dock diving, Therapy Dog, and barn hunt training.

So a quick apology to you guys! I am sorry I have been a bit quiet lately, I will get back on track soon!