BlueMyst Australian Shepherds

Dave and Laura Fuller





Bringing Your New Puppy Home

What Now? Potty Training

Your BlueMyst puppy has been paper trained and litter box trained, by the time you pick him/her up, so transitioning your puppy to the potty training method of choice, should be a lot easier, or so we've been told by many of our new puppy owners.

We have included links with articles and videos to help in the teaching process, and even though we may not completely agree with all that is taught, we do want to present material that will be educational. Consider what is best for you, your family, and your new puppy.

This is a good overview on potty training. Potty Training Tips 

This is an explanation of how most dogs communicate with humans, using body language, and the tonality in our voices. Communicating with Your Dog

This is a demonstration of how positive reinforcement is used for capturing/naming a behavior to increase your puppy's/dog's vocabulary. Teaching New Words  "What if dogs could talk?" 

We have also included a few tips and ideas from our own experience in raising and training puppies, within each of the methods, so reading all of the methods may be helpful. We also like to take advantage of any teachable moment.

Some of the most common "Potty Training Methods" that will be discussed are:

Paper Training

Litter Box Training

Crate Training

More House Training Tips

You should begin potty training as soon as you bring your new puppy home.

Important: A puppy is not physically able to "hold it," until about 12-16 weeks of age.

This is a chart that shows about how often a puppy at different ages, goes potty.

It's Potty Time, Can't Hold It!

08-14 weeks old, 8-12 potty breaks per day  (too young to be consistent at "holding it")

14-20 weeks old, 6-8 potty breaks per day  (more consistent at "holding it")

20-30 weeks old, 4-6 potty breaks per day (most consistent at "holding it")

Paper Training/Litter box Training (using an exercise pen inside the house)

This is an example of our puppies in a pen, (actually, it's 2 pens clipped together) inside our house. Puppies in a Pen

The benefits of using this method... transitions into going potty outside full time, and you can use the papered area in the house as a backup, once the transition is complete. This should keep everyone happy.

...the ability to free feed/leave food and water down all the time.

Note: We free feed, because puppies are growing fast and need the nutrition. We go to regular feedings at breakfast and dinner at about 6 months of age when most of the growing is done.

...Puppy can see the family from the pen.

...Puppy can be taken from the pen and included with the family, giving Puppy the opportunity to learn appropriate behaviors, such as learning not to jump up on people or counters, getting into the trash, and not snatching food from people or places in the home.

...can be left home alone for short periods of time, without worry.

Note: Our puppy pen is placed in front of the TV, which is going most of the time. If you only have one puppy, the sound of the TV may help with loneliness. Music made to calm animals may also help.

Setting Up Your Exercise Pen

When using an exercise pen in the house, put it on easy to clean floors, or you can put a piece of vinyl flooring down first, then put the pen on it. Vinyl flooring sheets can be found at building supply stores.

For larger puppies, you can buy 2 exercise pens and easily hook them together. Here are some examples of Exercise Pens.

You can use newspaper alone, or with a small litter box/potty pool, placed at one end of the pen, and a sleeping/eating area at the other end of the pen. Pet stores have a small size pool or litter boxes, we have used both. We now use a small pool, because it is larger than most litter boxes, and it gives the puppies the room to circle, if they want too. The pools are sold mostly during the summer months.

If you use a litter box, we recommend using the more natural potty litters, like "Feline Pine Litter" or "Newspaper Litter" for dogs or cats, so when the puppies eat a little, it's safer. Our puppies usually sample a little when we first introduce them to it. You do not want to use clumping litters, or litters that have unnatural ingredients that may interfere with your puppies digestive tract.

This is an example of this setup, with our latest litter of puppies. Puppies in a Pen

Setting Up the Pen for Paper Training Only

Start out by laying newspapers in 1/2 to 3/4 of the pen (also, the ink in the newspapers may permanently stain some surfaces once it gets wet, so we also use butcher paper from a roll, it doesn't stain) then put the sleeping/eating area at the other end. We use towels and blankets in the sleeping area. Blankets for warmth, and towels to keep hot puppies cooler. Other puppies like to sleep on the bare floor, it's cooler than the towels.

We also put the food and water bowls on a towel, so it can keep the eating area cleaner, and we can pick the towel up and wash it between meals, remember that we do this with an entire litter, so one puppy should be a lot cleaner.

You should reduce the the size of the papered area each week, until it is only large enough to accommodate the puppy's size and circling behavior. 4 large sized newspapers should be about right, once the puppy becomes consistent at using the papered area.

Setting Up the Pen for both Paper Training and Litter Box Training

Here are some examples/pictures of our puppies using the potty pool with butcher paper under and around it, and some without paper. This pen is in our family room.

If you want to litter box train at the same time, put the litter box/potty pool on the newspapers, leaving plenty of newspaper exposed around the litter box, so the puppy can go in either place. Start reducing the number of newspapers a little each week, until only the litter box remains. If your puppy starts using the litter box most of the time, remove the paper and see how it goes. Even if the puppy misses the litter box a few times in the beginning, he/she is still making good progress.

Note: We started transitioning the puppies to a litter box/potty pool from paper, because when the puppies reach about 6 weeks old, they think playing with the paper is great fun. We would end up without any paper to potty on, because it would be in lots of little pieces. They tend to shred newspaper, and play chase, with butcher paper. It should be much easier with one puppy. Here is an example of playing with the butcher paper from our web site.

Managing Your Puppy inside the Pen

Puppy Potty Pads may be helpful.

A veterinarian explains how to use Puppy Potty Pads.

Be sure to enthusiastically praise your puppy each time he/she goes in the correct area.

If your puppy is not going on the newspaper or in the litter box, cover most of the area with newspaper again, and start over.

Your puppy may whine, howl, or bark excessively. Music may soothe your puppy. Never pick your puppy up while he/she is fussing, wait until they are behaving. If you pick them up when they are fussy, they will think making a fuss gets them out of the pen, and that will lead to louder and longer fussing. We use a squirt bottle to reduce, and eventually stop this behavior, explained in more detail below.

Having lots of toys and things to chew on will keep your puppy occupied for hours, and distracted from constantly wanting to be with you. Wanting to be with is a good thing, but the noise can become very annoying after awhile.

Note: Our puppies also love getting freshly washed toys straight from the washing machine. Drying toys at high temperatures can also ruin some of the parts inside (squeaker) and outside (plastic and rubber parts) of the toy. We found that out the hard way.

Take your puppy out of the pen everyday, for short periods of time, with supervision, say right after you see them go potty, then closely monitor for signs of needing to go potty while they are with you. Return them to the pen, with a happy attitude, and maybe a treat to make it a good experience.

Note: When handing your puppy a small treat, never jerk your hand back quickly, or hold it too far away from the mouth, it teaches your puppy to grab at the food, and you could be nipped accidentally. Present the treat close to the mouth, and on a flat hand, so Puppy learns how to take food from your hand correctly.

Managing Your Puppy Outside the Pen

Puppy/Dog Diapers may be helpful. Maybe disposable diapers for human babies will work.

This is an explanation on how to clean a soiled rug that was left by your little peepoo puppy.

When Puppy is out of the pen with you, start teaching him/her how to behave around you and your home.

Jumping up on you may be cute when they are puppies, but as they get older, it can become a real problem, and could lead to someone being injured, ruining clothing, or jumping up on counters and visitors.

You will want to decide now, with a puppy, if you want to allow them as adults, to jump on your furniture, or your lap whenever they want too. You can train them to only come up when you invite them up, not whenever they feel like it. An unexpected leap into your lap could injure you, or cause an unhappy experience with your guests.

As your puppy becomes more able to control bodily functions, with supervision, you can open up the door, or one end of the pen, for longer and longer periods of time, so Puppy has access to the potty area, and can begin learning to "hold it" for longer periods of time, while out of the pen. If your puppy goes potty outside the pen, return your puppy to the pen and show them the potty area. You can try again later.

IMPORTANT: You must catch your puppy in the act of going potty, if your going to help him/her understand what they should be doing. Puppies live in the here and now world. Once they have left the area, it's out of sight and out of mind, and your discipline at that time would only confused him/or her, and delay the potty training process.

Children and Pets

Never allow children to carry a puppy around for long periods of time, tease, hit, or hurt your new puppy in any way. Children need to be taught how to respect all living things.

If your child gets bitten, the child should be disciplined for forcing the puppy to resort to naturally defending itself. The puppy is seldom at fault in these cases. Puppy teeth are sharp, and puppies may have to learn not to bite too hard while playing.

Note: To help with biting, you can yell loudly, "Ouch!" as you remove your body part from your puppy's mouth, then return to playing. Repeat as many times as necessary, as long as the bite is not breaking the skin, or causing injury.

If the biting continues, or causes injury, yell loudly, "Ouch!" and return him/her to the pen for a time out each time it happens. Once the puppy realizes that biting hard causes you to stop playing with him/her, they will be more careful.

Puppies will continue play biting, because that's what puppies do. The idea is to stop the biting that injures someone. As puppies get older, and the adult teeth start coming in, the adult teeth are not as sharp as the baby teeth, and if you continue saying,"Ouch!" every time they bite you, even when it's not hard, they will eventually stop biting you during playtime.

IMPORTANT: Letting a child (or adult) abuse an animal IN ANY WAY will eventually result in injury, and your child will not learn how to respect other living things.

Pet abuse statistics show that children who abuse animals, often become abusive children and adults, and may need immediate counseling. If a child continues to abuse animals, the animals should be removed from the environment, and the caregivers should immediately seek intervention. This could be the tip of the ice burg, with serious underlying issues to immediately address.

Paper Training/Litter box Training (using an area inside the home)

This is an example of paper training, inside the home.

The benefits of using this method... transitions to going outside to potty full time, yet you still have a backup area in the house if needed. This will keep everyone happy.

...Puppy learns how to behave in the house around the family, such as learning not to jump on someone, or the kitchen counter, staying out of the trash, taking food gently when offered, and not snatching anyone's food from a plate, hand, or counter.

...has lots of bonding opportunities with the family.

...the family can go places for short periods of time, with less worry.

Setting Up a Potty Training Area, Inside the Home

Let's start with confining your puppy to a small part of the house that has easy clean up floors. It will help prevent your puppy from urinating all over your house. It is much harder to housebreak your puppy if the smell of urine is everywhere in the house. There are gates and barriers you can buy for sectioning off parts of the house.

When you are sectioning off an area of the house, put down at least 8-10 large newspapers in the area furthest away from eating and sleeping areas. You can also cover the entire area with newspapers, it may be helpful with some puppies. Show them the area and call it "potty" or whatever word you chose to label it, so they learn what is expected. Reduce the number of newspapers over time, until a puppy sized area is left, approximately 4 large newspapers, allowing for circling behavior.

If you are going to use a litter box, put it on the newspapers with plenty of exposed newspaper, so both areas are available for use. Over the next few days or weeks, depending on how your puppy is doing, you can start reducing the size of the potty area by using less newspapers each day. Be sure to leave an area big enough for Puppy to circle on.

While teaching your puppy how to go in a chosen area of your home, start paying attention to your puppy's "Can't hold it!" body signals. You can begin teaching your puppy how to go potty outside, by taking him/her out when you see a behavior that indicates potty time.


This is a example of using potty pads.

If your puppy is not going on the newspaper or in the litter box, cover most of the area with newspaper again, and start over.

Be sure to enthusiastically praise your puppy each time he/she uses the correct area.

Also, having lots of toys and things to chew on will keep your puppy occupied for hours. See "Puppy Proof Your Home" below.

Many of the above suggestions and training methods used in a pen, also work for a small area of the home.

See "Managing Puppy Inside the Pen," (or area of the home) in the above method of training.

See "Managing Your Puppy Outside the Pen," in the above method of training.

See "Children and Pets," in the above method of training.

Going Outside to Potty, Full Time

Here are some tips on potty training.

You are going to teach your young puppy how to make a connection between the "urge" to go potty and going outside. You will teach your puppy to let you know when it's potty time, so you can let/take him/her out.

Puppy Proof Your Home

You will need to puppy proof your home in much the same way that you would baby proof your home for a 2 or 3 year old toddler. Anything within reach, will end up chewed on, because we are teething, just like a toddler.

Note: Sometimes we find little baby teeth on the floor, or stuck on toys, it's so cute. That's why having lots of toys and chew bones will keep your puppy's normal chewing behavior satisfied, and less chance of Puppy picking up bad habits. When your puppy picks up something you don't want him/her to have, you just switch one of his/her chew toys for the inappropriate object.

Note: Never give your puppy an old shoe, sock, or anything that would get them into trouble later on. If you give them an old shoe, they may begin to think that all shoes are chew toys. You would not like having your new shoes chewed on.

Using Bells to Communicate when It's Potty Time

Let's look at some ways to communicate with your puppy verbally, and through body language. You can also communicate using bells.

The bell method is one way that your puppy can tell you when it's potty time. This site has some examples of dog training bells that can be hung on the door knob, or next to the door on the door frame or wall, and some can be stepped on. Bell training is very easy. The following site has ratings and customer reviews about dog training products.

Using verbal commands, and watching for behaviors which signal "It's Potty Time, Can't Hold It!"

It is important that you start noticing the behaviors that signal potty time, such as turning in circles, sniffing around in a searching way, whining, barking, looking toward the door, or just bugging you more than usual. Your puppy is telling you, through these behaviors, that it's potty time, can't hold it. If you see one or more of these behaviors, you will want to quickly take him/her outside. It can happen fast!

You will want to come up with a word for potty. You are going to be using it over and over, until when you say it enthusiastically, your puppy will run to the door. Example: We say, "Who want's to go potty?" "Let's go potty!" "Outside!" then our pups run for the door and we immediately let/take them out.

You are also going to need a word or sound that means stop what your doing. We say, "A!" (short a sound) or "No!"

You will need to take your puppy outside after every meal and nap. Note: Sometimes a little exercise, like walking or running, will speed up the process.

This would be a good time to reinforce the word for potty, so you can teach " Potty on Command." This command will come in handy later on when you take your puppy places, after he/she has had all of the puppy shots. This would also be a good time to take your puppy to the area of the yard you want him/her to use on a regular basis. Make sure you praise your puppy enthusiastically every time he/she goes potty in the right place. This is an example of teaching "potty on command" outside. This is an example of choosing an area of the yard, which will be the designated potty area, and teaching the puppy/dog to only go to that area to eliminate.

Example: Using "Potty on Command" at home. We take our puppy outside to the area we want used as a potty area. When our puppy goes potty, we say, "Yeah, Marty Go Potty!" or "Good boy, Go Potty!" Notice the key words, "Go Potty" are used repeatedly. Over time, we go outside, they run to the area, we say, "Go Potty," and he/she goes potty immediately. That comes in handy when you take them away from home. (Like the Veterinarian's office.)

Note: If you let your puppy outside, then close the door and leave them, some puppies will not want to go outside to potty. If you notice this behavior, then you will want to go out with your puppy, and bring them back inside for a period of time before letting him/her outside to stay for awhile.

Example: Using "Potty on Command" away from home: We get out of the SUV, take him to an appropriate area and say, "Marty, Go Potty." He immediately starts look for a place to go, and everyone is happy. Be sure to clean up after your puppy, if needed.

If your going to show disapproval when your puppy goes potty in the wrong place, you will need to catch your puppy in the act of going potty, not after the fact. You can use a loud clap or a sound to get their attention, then when they notice your unhappy, say, "NO," or use a sound that means no, then immediately take him/her to the correct area, pet him/her so they feel more comfortable, then say go potty in a nice voice, if they still need to go.

If you see your puppy has already gone potty on the floor, but the puppy is not in the area, it is already too late to show disapproval. The trick is to catch your puppy in the act. Wait for your puppy to go again, and when he/she does, praise him/her with a lot of enthusiasm, "Good boy/girl, Go Potty!"

IMPORTANT: NEVER call your puppy/dog to you, then discipline him/her when he/she comes to you. He/She will stop coming when called, and it will only make matters worse. NEVER hit your puppy/dog, it will always do more harm than good. Hitting your dog may cause him/her to shut down, and stop listening to you altogether. He/she may cower and not move, or run the other way. Dogs in their natural habitat do not listen to frustrated, angry or emotional pack leaders, and you would have to start all over with your puppy, to rebuild his/her trust in you. Puppies/Dogs can be very forgiving, if your out-of-control behavior isn't repeated. (It looks like our canine friends react to violence a lot like we humans do.)

IMPORTANT: Do not attempt this behavior modification strategy if the dog is vicious and you could be seriously bitten or injured. If you have an out-of-control puppy, carefully and forcefully, lay/push your puppy down on his/her side (like cow tipping), in a laying down position, then hold this position for a minute or two, or until he/she calms down, all the while saying, "No!" loudly, 2 or 3 times. After your puppy (and you) calm down, let him/her up and go about your business. Repeat as many times as needed. Just be careful and don't get hurt doing it. Some dogs will panic and try to bite you. Most puppies will learn what is expected after one or two times. In the "Hanging Out Together" section of this page, you can see some puppies laying completely on their sides. Aussie Tango was gently held on her side briefly, then was let up after being more calm, then at the end, she laid on her side and showed submissive behavior, now she knows who is the alpha dog/pack leader.

Our older Aussies, do exactly as described above to the younger, out-of-control puppies/dogs. Only they actually lay on top on them and flatten them out so they can't move. Lisa did this to Charley a couple of times when Charley got too rough with her during playtime. Charley stopped playing so rough after getting laid on a couple more times.

Note: You will see improvement in behavior after 1-3 times of laying them on their side. This is one way of showing your puppy that you are the pack leader, and what you say goes, not like the"The Man Song" right out the window.

Note: This link will come in handy when you're really upset, and it feels like the animals are laughing behind your back. Laugh, when all else fails, and remember, "Nobody's Perfect!"

Using a Squirt Bottle to Train Puppies (This also works for cats.)

A squirt bottle is used to get the puppy's attention. When you first start squirting the puppy, he/she looks around for what landed on them, as if the sky is falling, it's funny. Once they realize they are getting squirted each time they do a particular act, they begin to do it less, until it stops. We squirt them with a stream of water a couple of times, usually at the mouth area where the damage is going on, and avoiding the eyes. They quickly realize that you want them to stop.

When we have a litter, we use the squirt bottle from our chairs, while watching TV. The puppy pen is in front of the TV, they get squirted for things like chewing on the pen. (They somehow manage to get their mouths caught on the bars, and then cry like they are about to die. It's not easy to unhook a screaming puppy's teeth, where the canines are hooked over the bars, sideways, on top and bottom, holding its mouth wide open.) We started squirting at their mouths each time we caught them chewing on the bars, and the behavior quickly ended, after a few dozen squirts at different puppies.

We also squirt them for playing to rough with siblings, trying to climb over the pen, excessive barking, excessive whining to get out, chewing on the wrong things, going potty in the wrong area, and whatever else comes up. It works.

Since the puppies love water anyway, they start to catch the water stream in their mouths as they get older, and that's when we stop using the squirt bottle. It becomes a fun game to play after that.

When you squirt your puppy say, "No!" or make a negative sound, as you squirt them. We say, "A!" (short a sound) as we squirt them each time. When the squirt bottle is no longer effective, because the puppies start catching the stream of water in their mouths for fun, that's when you transition to your verbal commands, such as "No!" or "A," for stopping inappropriate behaviors. We still use the same verbal commands with our adults.

A Potty Training Schedule can help make potty training easier.

Puppies thrive on routine, and learn by repetition, so a daily training routine is a great way to start. This helps potty training by regulating your puppy's body clock, and bodily functions, which means his/her needs will be easier to anticipate and meet.

Try to feed your puppy at roughly the same time every day. Aim for a variation of no more than 30-45 minutes.

Set your schedule so that you and your puppy get up and go to sleep, at the same time each day.

Make sure that the first thing you do in the morning is take your puppy outside for a potty break, and a potty break should be the last thing at night. Consistency is the key to potty training a puppy!

By following a potty training schedule, your puppy's bladder, bowels and digestive system will become regulated, and you'll know better when to take him/her outside. This will cut down on the number of "accidents" your puppy has.

Here is an example of a Potty Training Schedule that's suitable for an 8-10 week old puppy.

07:00 am get up, potty break

07:30 am breakfast, potty break/walk

08:00 am playtime, potty break, nap

10:30 am potty break, playtime/training, potty break, nap

12:30 pm potty break, lunch, potty break, playtime, potty break, nap

03:00 pm potty break, playtime, potty break, nap

05:30 pm potty break, dinner, playtime, potty break/walk, nap

07:30 pm potty break, playtime, potty break, nap

09:00 pm potty break, playtime, potty break, nap

10:30 pm potty break/walk, bedtime

02.00 am potty break, if necessary

Young puppies have to go potty ALL THE TIME, after a nap, after being fed, after playtime, after a training session, after waking up, and before going to bed.

You may not want to feed your healthy puppy later than 5:30 or 6:00 pm, and picking up his/her water bowl by around 7:30-8:00 pm will help reduce the chances of a 2:00 am sleepwalk for you.

You can easily adjust this schedule to meet everyone's needs.

Since we always have young pups and adults in the house, we just take them out every time we do something, like get lunch, or a drink, or whatever. The adults let us know when they need to go out, so we take everyone out at the same time, or about every hour or two, sooner if we see "It's Potty Time, Can't Hold it" signals.

Crate Training Puppies

A veterinarian's advice about crate training.

More about crate training.

Articles and video instruction on how to train and care for a puppy/dog.

Music may be used to calm your puppy.

The benefits of using this method...

...some say it speeds up the potty training process.

...confined puppies can not potty in the house.

The first thing you are going to want to do is "Puppy Proof" your home. See "Going Outside to Potty, Full Time" (above) where it says, "Puppy Proof Your Home."

When you're crate training a puppy, you're taking advantage of his/her natural instincts not to go "potty" where they sleep and eat. Crating forces puppies/dogs to "hold it."

Getting to Know about Normal Bodily Functions

Think about how long you can hold it during the day, and then at night. It's about the same with adult dogs. Human babies wear diapers, and they wear diapers because they are unable to control bodily functions. Children are potty trained between 18 and 36 months because that is when they become physically able to "hold it." The time frame and the ability to control bodily functions are about the same with puppies.

An 8 week/2 month old puppy is not physically able to "hold it." They feel the urge, then find a place to go. It doesn't matter where they are, or what they are doing at the time.

A 12-16 week/3-4 month old puppy would be like a 2-3 year old child. They are beginning to have control over their own bodily functions. This is a good time to start potty training, now that he/she is able to "hold it" for longer periods of time.

This is a chart that indicates the approximate age of a puppy compared to a human.

Canine Age    Human Age

2 Months         14 Months

6 Months           5 Years

8 Months           9 Years

1 Year             15 Years

Crate training should not begin until a puppy is at least 12-16 weeks old, when it begins to have more control over bodily functions.

Crates can be useful in transporting and in training, but it should not become a regular part of a dog's life once the training is over.

Extreme Views in Crating

Many people believe dogs "like" being in a cave like enclosure, but the only time they are in a place like that in nature, is for protection from the elements and protection from predators. They do this because they have no choice. It's called survival.

Think about how you would live, if you were left to fin for yourself in a wild undeveloped area. Would you immediately start looking for a place that protects you from the same things that animals fear? Why do you think some of our ancestors were called Cavemen? Does that mean we would be more comfortable in small enclosed areas, where food and water may not be available? How do you think your body would feel after staying in the same position hour after hour?

You would be appalled at how many people keep their dogs in crates when they go to work, or for hours on end, even when they are at home. If those dogs had fingers and could braid their hairs into a rope, they'd probably hang themselves. Oh wait, the crate isn't big enough to do that!

The point being made here is, DON'T USE YOUR CRATE AS A BABY SITTER! Take your puppy/dog to a family member or a friend to baby sit during the day. If you are keeping your dog in a crate for hours on end, then you clearly don't have the time you need, to own an animal. If you believe repeated use of the crate for hours on end does not harm your animal, then we agree to disagree. Something to think about, as we continue.

Picking Out a Crate

You need the crate to be just big enough for your puppy to stand up, sit down, turn around, and lie down in, without touching the sides. If it's any bigger, chances are good that your puppy will designate part of it as a sleeping area, and part as a bathroom, that's not what you want. Remember, this crate should only be used for travel, training purposes, or used only with the door open or removed.

This web site has some examples of training crates.

Never use the crate as punishment. Putting your puppy in a crate as a punishment, or when you're angry with him, will undo all the hard work you invested in the first place. Your puppy needs to think of the crate as a safe, happy place where he/she gets the chance to chew on his/her favorite toys and chews. (keeping the door open)

Furnishing Your Puppy's Crate

Toys and treats will keep your puppy content for hours. If the toys and treats become smaller pieces in the crate, you should remove the pieces to prevent choking and internal obstruction.

Water and food bowls can be hung in the crate. For very young dogs, the need to hydrate and nourish their little, fast growing bodies is almost constant. When crate training puppies you must position the water and food off to a side or corner where it does not impede the puppy from curling up on his/her blanket.

Bedding can include towels, blankets, or/and a mat. Although most puppies prefer lying on soft bedding, some may prefer to rest on a hard, flat surface, and may push the bedding to one end of the crate to avoid it. You can also buy crate mats that are soft and warm on one side, and then a cooler side made of nylon.

Note: As far as warmth is concerned, in our experience, soft fuzzy blankets are cozy and warm for puppies, and towels are cooler. Our puppies, at very young ages, preferred the soft blankets, but when they got older, and too hot, they would find the towel to lay on. We used both at the same time, a blanket area and a towel area. We don't use towels at very young ages, because the towels did not keep them warm enough. Keeping puppies warm when they are very young, is extremely important, but older puppies do fine on both towels and blankets.

Getting Accustomed to the New Crate

It is advisable to crate your puppy for short periods of time while you are home with him. In fact, crate training is best accomplished while you are in the room with your dog. This prevents an association being made with the crate and your leaving him/her alone.

• When you begin crate training, leave the crate door open and throw some tasty treats inside, Puppy will eventually venture inside to claim them.

• Give meals inside the crate with the door open. If your puppy seems scared at first, try feeding him/her right outside the crate door a couple of times, then try it inside again.

• Include the crate at playtime. Toss a treat or special toy inside, then encourage your puppy to "Find it," or "Get it!" 

Puppies under 4 months of age have little bladder or sphincter control. Puppies under 3 months have even less. Very young puppies under 9 weeks should not be crated, as they need to eliminate very frequently (usually 8-12 times or more daily).

A 3 month old frolicking puppy may go potty every 15-20 minutes or even more often. Physical activity increases the need of a puppy to relieve itself, and the lack of activity slows this down.

On average, crate training a puppy takes a few weeks.

General guild line for how long to crate at one continuous time, based on age: (THIS IS HOW LONG PUPPIES HAVE TO "HOLD IT" AT ONE TIME)

9-10 weeks, Can "hold it" for 30 minutes, puppies at this age are too young to crate. The crate door should be left open at all times.

11-14 weeks, Can "hold it" for 1-3 hours, place the puppy into the crate for 1 hour, then take him/her out to go potty. For overnight, place the puppy in the crate, then after 3 hours, take them out to go potty, unless they cry sooner. You will need to do this about 2 more times during the night, depending on the puppy. If you are a heavy sleeper, you can set your alarm clock.

15-18 weeks, Can "hold it" for 3-4 hours, place the puppy into the crate for 3 hours, then take him/her out to go potty. For overnight, place the puppy in the crate for 3-4 hours, then take him/her to go potty, unless they cry sooner. You may get away with 1 or 2 nighttime potty breaks. If you are a heavy sleeper, you can set your alarm clock.

18 + weeks, Can "hold it" for 4-6 hours-max. Place the puppy in the crate for no more than 3 hours during the day, then take him/her out to go potty. Overnight, put him/her in the crate for 4-6 hours, then take him/her out for a potty break, unless they cry sooner. You may get away with 1 potty break during the night. If you are a heavy sleeper, you can set your alarm.

Except for overnight crating, NEVER crate puppies nor older dogs for more than ONE-3 hour session in a day.

Managing Crate Time/Work

Music may help calm your puppy. Music you can play when your puppy is upset.

Help for separation anxiety.

Help for a dog that chews/anxious when left home alone.

Help for a dog that barks when left home alone.

IF YOUR PUPPY SPENDS OVER 3 HOURS DURING THE DAY, PLUS ALL NIGHT IN A CRATE, THEN YOU NEED A PUPPY/DOG SITTER. A lot of people take their pets to a family member's home, while they are at work, or gone for extended periods of time.

NEVER leave your puppy/adult in a crate, when working, or when you will be gone for more than 3 hours in a day. Over time, this isolation will damage your puppy's health, both mentally and physically. YOU NEED A PUPPY/ADULT DOG SITTER, or a bird, cat, or hamster, instead of a dog.

If your puppy messes in the crate while you are out, do not punish him/her upon returning. Your puppy has good reason for messing in the crate and it's either your fault for leaving him/her in too long, or you forgot to give him/her a potty break before being crated, or it couldn't be helped for medical reasons. Simply wash out the crate using a pet odor neutralizer such as Nature's Miracle, Nilodor, Outright, or vinegar and water.

Note: Do not use ammonia-based products, the odor resembles urine, and may cause your puppy to urinate in the same spot again.

Crating a puppy for long periods of time may cause him/her to feel isolated and lonely, and over time, they may become depressed and detached from you and the surroundings.

Sufficient daily exercise is important for healthy puppies and dogs. Regular daily walks should be offered as soon as a puppy is fully immunized.

Here are some crate training pointers to lessen the stress:

Take a potty break first.

Put toys in with him/her, and something to chew on.

Don't shut him in, and then leave the room.

Location of the Crate

When possible, place the crate near you when you are at home. This will encourage the pup to go inside the crate. A central room in the apartment, which allows your puppy to see more, like the living room, kitchen, or a large hallway near the entrance, would also be good locations for the crate.

Managing Unhappy Crated Puppies

Crate training a puppy is not going to be all smooth sailing. Almost all puppies will howl, whine, and/or bark the first few times they're confined to the crate, especially at bedtime. Music may help calm your puppy. Remember, they want to be right next to you at all times.

When it's time for Puppy to come out of the crate, open the door and carry him/her or use the leash without making a big fuss over him/her. Take him outside right away, so he/she can potty in the usual area, then it's time for play and lots of loving!

Note: If you give some puppies a big welcome when he/she comes out of the crate, it'll cause him/her to be desperate to get out the whole time he/she is crated.Your puppy will whine even louder and longer the next time, if you let him/her out when the crying starts. Anyone who's raised children will know all about this. Stay close by, supervise, but ignore the racket and don't make eye contact.

Whether your puppy is in the crate for 5 minutes, or 30 minutes, never let him/her out while crying and complaining. Wait for a pause in the complaining first, or your puppy will think he/she is getting out because he's making such a fuss.

Crate Training Tips

Potty training a puppy requires you to constantly monitor your pup. Here are some tips, which may be helpful:

While crate training puppies, look for obvious signs of the puppy willing to go potty, such as: walking in a circle and sniffing, whining, sudden loss of interest in playing, etc. When you notice these signs, immediately take your puppy outside.

It is important to take your puppy outside as soon as you have opened the crate. Carrying the puppy rather than letting him/her walk, and it will prevent some puppies from going potty on the floor as soon as it walks out of the crate. A leash can be used if this is not the case.

Every time you take your puppy to go potty outside, say something like,“Let's go potty!” or "Outside?" If you label the act regularly, you will soon notice that asking this, will cause your dog to react with excited behavior, barking, and running toward the door.

As soon as your puppy starts to relieve itself, praise him/her. However, when potty training a puppy, only praise your puppy with words during the actual relieving of itself, and do not pet him/her, that may distract your puppy from the process.

Always wait for a moment to make sure that the puppy is done. After urinating once, puppies often need to go again within a few minutes.

If your puppy is new to being alone, the first few nights may be filled with crying. If you place a small ticking clock in the crate, the ticking mimics the heartbeats of the puppy’s former litter siblings. It may soothe the puppy, and allow everyone to get some sleep. It may be worth a try.

Do not crate if a puppy appears "hysterical" (whining, barking, scratching, throwing himself around, has a bowel movement, or is panting heavily). Let him/her out, it could be health related, or the puppy could have been traumatized, prior to you bringing him/her home. Some dogs are raised being forced to potty in the cage where they sleep, so training will take longer. Bad habits can be hard to break, so you will need to be patient, or you may need to try a different method of potty training.

Daytime Crating

Your puppy/dog should only be confined to a crate when you are at home. Give your dog an opportunity to relieve him/herself every hour.

Each time you let your puppy out, carry him/her, if he/she is very young and starts to go potty immediately after being taken out of the crate. Some puppies do well being put on a leash, and then immediately go outside. Once outside, give your puppy about three to five minutes to produce. (walking or running around usually speeds up the process)

If he/she does perform, then immediately reward him/her with praise, food treats, affection, play, an extended walk and permission to run around and play in your house for a couple of hours. For young pups, after 45 minutes to an hour, take him/her to the potty area again. If he/she goes potty say something like, "Yea, Go Potty!" This is a good time to begin teaching "Potty on Command."

Note: When we go places, we take our puppy/adult to an appropriate area and say, "Go Potty!" and they go immediately. Be sure to clean up after your puppy, if needed.

Never give your dog free run of your home unless you know without a doubt that his/her bowels and bladder are empty.

Note: Our puppies/adults usually go potty within about 20 minutes after eating, and immediately after a nap.

If you find an accident in the house, just clean it up. Do not punish your dog. It was you that gave him/her unsupervised access to your house too soon. Until he/she can be trusted, don't give him/her unsupervised free run of your house.

Note: If our puppy/dog can walk on a 6 foot leash, (which we teach early on) we hook the leash onto our belt or arm where it can be pulled loose, just in case the dog makes any unexpected quick moves. We have him/her follow us everywhere. We are able to give constant supervision, we can see signs of needing to go potty quicker, and it gives us a chance to teach him/her manners.

Be careful with the older puppies and dogs, sometimes they react fast, may bolt or get under your feet, and you could go down, and possibly injure yourself, one more reason to teach manners early on.

We start out doing this for short periods of time, 5 minutes, and increase the time as your puppy improves. We do it as many times a day as we need/want too, usually 1 to 3 times is enough. Our puppies learn  a lot in only a few days.

Our puppies also learn how to stay away from our feet, while staying close. They walk better on a leash, without pulling, and keeping at our pace. They learn some manners, like leaving our food alone, and not jumping on us or the kitchen counter. Any unacceptable behavior should be met with a loud firm "NO!" or a sound, like "A!" (short a sound, like "at")

If your puppy/dog jumps up on you, turn your back on him/her, say, "NO!" and don't give affection unless all four paws are on the floor. If you have a dog that jumps, you may want to hook your thumb over his/her collar under the neck, while you scratch his/her chest with the other 4 fingers, this will anchor him/her to the floor, not allowing an injury to your face. Some dogs will jump up, as you are going down to pet them, and they sometimes strike your chin, nose, mouth or glasses, especially if they are young and rambunctious puppies.

Overnight Crating

With overnight crating, try to put your puppy in the crate beside your bed, or in a position where your puppy can see you.

Remember, he/she is still a baby, and will need to go potty at least once, and depending on age, maybe 2 or 3 times during the night.

Crate training a puppy at night time is easier if you make sure he/she has had a potty break before being crated, and hasn't had access to drinking water, after about 8 pm. That way, he/she will most likely go to sleep for several hours, before needing to go out.

Don't ignore crying at night, your puppy won't be able to hold it in, and if your puppy is forced to potty in his/her crate, it'll make crate training more difficult.

This stage of crate training a puppy only lasts a short while, so be patient and in some cases your puppy will show improvement in days. Some puppies, depending on age and circumstance, may take weeks.

You may not want to crate if the puppy was purchased from a pet store, or was kept in small cages at a young age (between approximately 7 and 16 weeks of age). It may be considerably harder to potty break, using the crate training method, due to being forced to eliminate in his/her sleeping area during this formative stage of development, which is the time when most puppies are learning to eliminate outside of their sleeping area.

Note: You can try crate training with any puppy/dog, just realize that some puppies/dogs will react in a normal way, and some may react badly. If the puppy/dog becomes aggressive toward you, extremely frightened, looses control over bodily functions, or becomes hysterical when you try to crate him/her, then don't. If the puppy/dog goes potty in the crate on a regular basis. This puppy should not be trained using a crate.

If your puppy regularly goes potty in the crate, he/she...

• may be too young to "hold" it.

• needs to have a potty break before being crated.

• drank a lot of water before being crated.

• could have worms or an upset tummy due to a change in diet or stress.

• could have a medical problem, such as a urine infection.

• may need retraining, due to unhealthy practices, by the previous owner.

• may be experiencing severe separation anxiety from being left alone.

No matter what reason your puppy has for messing in his crate, do be certain to clean the crate thoroughly, so that the scent doesn't encourage him to get in the habit of re-soiling over and over.

Crate Training Safety Issues

Never leave a chain, prong collar, training collar, or slip collar on your puppy when you put him/her in the crate. It could get caught up on something, which may cause him/her to panic, the results could be tragic. You could leave the collar and leash on top of the crate where it would be handy to slip on when it's time to go out, and slip off, just before going in.

Don't leave your puppy crated in a hot room, in sunlight (even indoors) or outside in direct sun. It doesn't take much for a puppy or dog to overheat.

When you're crate training a puppy in hot weather, be especially careful with short nosed breeds, as they tend to have more difficulty with the heat. Something similar applies to heavy, thick-coated breeds, such as Australian Shepherds and Akitas.

A puppy/dog who is crated, may feel cornered, if approached or teased. Even an even-tempered docile dog can instinctively react with growling or snapping, if he/she feels threatened. Never allow children to tease your puppy while he/ she is in the crate, or put their fingers through the door or wire panels. The crate is your puppy's/dog's personal space.

Note: We bought a dog many years ago, that the breeder told us about. He had been terrorized by her teenaged son and his friends while being created in the garage, as a puppy. He lived to be 13 years old, and was jumpy his entire life. He improved over time, but never really completely recovered, even though we never put him in a crate. He was a great dog otherwise. That's only one of the reasons we don't crate unless we have too, and always with supervision.