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Hi! New member with a new pup! We are a large family with 4 kids and recently added a 10 week old yorki/poodle mix, Charlie, to our home. (Apparently, we thrive on chaos!) I should also note that I am a stay at home mom and we homeschool our kids, so we're always home with our pup. We brought him home on the 3rd, so as of this posting, it's only been a week.

Before bringing our pup home, we had decided to liter box train him, using washable pee pads in a puppy liter box. We had done a lot of research and decided to keep Charlie in an exercise pen with his food and water, bed, potty box, and toys. We started out with the pen in a 6 panel hexagon shape, in the middle of our living room. Charlie's temperament in the pen was quite good - he was happy and playful, never whined or barked, and loved when one of us would go into the pen to play with him. (The rule was that until he was fully potty trained using his potty box, he wouldn't get to wander the house.) He was even sleeping quietly through the night, thanks in major part to our 10 year old, who has been sleeping next to the pen since his first night home. (I'm sure this will bite us back later when he's not able to sleep alone.)

However, potty training wasn't going well. While he was pooping in the box (and eating it - a whole other issue), he was peeing all over the dang pen. I took to the internet and read that if we're trying to liter box train using a pen, we should have in a small configuration, with almost no floor space visible, so that the pup doesn't have as many choices on where to do his business. I also read that we should put the box near where it will be kept long term, so as to ease confusion and regression when he is fully potty trained. So I made the pen smaller, a 4 sided square, and put it in the corner of the living room. Once we put his box, bed, and bowls in, there truly was very little floor room. And sure enough, more times than not, he will poop and pee in the box! Success right? Not so much.

Now our sweet pup has taken to whining and barking incessantly unless someone is right next to the pen to calm him to sleep. I never knew such a loud sound could come from such a small dog! He seems miserable and sad in there and I'm not sure how to handle it. We're currently ignoring it at all costs, and rewarding him with a treat and some petting when he quiets down. It's too soon to tell if the ignoring is helping.

I'm certain that I didn't give the larger pen a solid try (it's had only been 4 or 5 days when I moved it) but now I'm not sure if we should stick to the small pen for the sake of potty training or go back to the messes in the larger pen with room to play?

If we keep the smaller pen, should Charlie be given the opportunity to roam the house once he's gone potty? (It would be just the living room and the kitchen for now.) We're currently letting him wander and come outside with us, but then he has accidents on the floor in the living room, presumably since he's no longer near the potty box. I'm sure he wants to be with us and definitely needs the opportunity to play and expend energy, I'm just not sure how to go about it.

If we move back to the larger pen where he has more room to run and tumble and play, how can I help him use the potty box? Loose potty pads or newspaper aren't an option, because he just wants to chew and toss them around. Anything loose is up for attack right now. (Currently his washable potty pad is underneath a gridded tray in his potty box.) Also, does anyone have experience with this type of potty training? Can we move the potty box once he's learned to use it in the exercise pen?

Any insight would be much appreciated! Before this, we had only rescued senior dogs but after loosing them, my husband and I thought it might be too hard on the kids (and on me) so we opted for a puppy. But puppies are new territory for us! And so much more work than babies! ;)

Thank you!
 

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We have an 11 week-old, 5 pound cockapoo we brought home 3 weeks ago. This is our first puppy and so I am in no way an expert and have myself been asking a ton of questions on here :)

Is there a reason you decided to indoor train vs. outdoor train? My original plan was to have a set-up similar to yours, only instead of a litter box, I would have a patch of grass for him to pee on. The breeder strongly advised us to go right to outdoor training and using a crate at night and when we aren't home. So now we have the pen in the middle of our living room as a play area where he has toys, a bed, and he eats/drinks in there. We go in there to play with him and if he is roaming the house he is on a leash AND he has JUST gone outside to pee/poop.

I started right off the bat taking him out every 20-30 minutes on his leash to pee/poop. He peed EVERY TIME! I can't believe how much those little pups can pee. But on the plus side, the frequent potty trips outside have reinforced it, and he has not had a single accident in the three weeks we have had him. It is a TON of work, but now we are at the point where he can be in a crate all night from 9:30-5:30 and hold it. I take him out at 5:30 am and he pees/poos right away, then comes inside to eat/play, then goes back out a half hour later, usually to pee/poop again. Once he has done that, he can hang out in the pen for at least an hour before I have to take him out again.

The constant taking him out has been exhausting and completely overtaken my life, but I feel like it has been worth him understanding that outside is for going to the bathroom. I still need to give him more leash time in my house to reinforce it but he at least knows not to go to the bathroom in his pen. If no one is home, he gets crated in a 24 inch crate and can be in there during the day for a couple hours as long as we take him out right before. I work so he is crated 8:30am-11am, goes out with a dog walker for about 30-45 minutes, then is crated again 11:30-1:45. He has stayed dry in his crate on this schedule. The afternoons he is out with us in the yard, going to soccer, etc.

He will cry/whine in his pen if we are visible and not paying attention to him and I try really hard to just ignore it. If it gets too incessant, I wait for an instant he is quiet, then get him and take him straight outside to pee. Usually he pees :)

Anyway, just thought I would share our situation with you. No idea if you have a yard, are in an apartment, etc. so none of this might work for you.
 

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We have an 11 week-old, 5 pound cockapoo we brought home 3 weeks ago. This is our first puppy and so I am in no way an expert and have myself been asking a ton of questions on here :)

Is there a reason you decided to indoor train vs. outdoor train? My original plan was to have a set-up similar to yours, only instead of a litter box, I would have a patch of grass for him to pee on. The breeder strongly advised us to go right to outdoor training and using a crate at night and when we aren't home. So now we have the pen in the middle of our living room as a play area where he has toys, a bed, and he eats/drinks in there. We go in there to play with him and if he is roaming the house he is on a leash AND he has JUST gone outside to pee/poop.

I started right off the bat taking him out every 20-30 minutes on his leash to pee/poop. He peed EVERY TIME! I can't believe how much those little pups can pee. But on the plus side, the frequent potty trips outside have reinforced it, and he has not had a single accident in the three weeks we have had him. It is a TON of work, but now we are at the point where he can be in a crate all night from 9:30-5:30 and hold it. I take him out at 5:30 am and he pees/poos right away, then comes inside to eat/play, then goes back out a half hour later, usually to pee/poop again. Once he has done that, he can hang out in the pen for at least an hour before I have to take him out again.

The constant taking him out has been exhausting and completely overtaken my life, but I feel like it has been worth him understanding that outside is for going to the bathroom. I still need to give him more leash time in my house to reinforce it but he at least knows not to go to the bathroom in his pen. If no one is home, he gets crated in a 24 inch crate and can be in there during the day for a couple hours as long as we take him out right before. I work so he is crated 8:30am-11am, goes out with a dog walker for about 30-45 minutes, then is crated again 11:30-1:45. He has stayed dry in his crate on this schedule. The afternoons he is out with us in the yard, going to soccer, etc.

He will cry/whine in his pen if we are visible and not paying attention to him and I try really hard to just ignore it. If it gets too incessant, I wait for an instant he is quiet, then get him and take him straight outside to pee. Usually he pees :)

Anyway, just thought I would share our situation with you. No idea if you have a yard, are in an apartment, etc. so none of this might work for you.
Thank you so much! We live in a split level home with the main living space upstairs and the backyard isn't readily accessible from the large upper deck. The front yard is off limits since our neighbor across the street lets their yellow lab roam the entire neighborhood and he frequently visits our yard when we go out. He's not the friendliest with little kids or pups. :/ We also live in northern WI and the weather gets pretty bitter cold half of the year. I had talked to a few yorki owners and they all liter box train and we had thought it might be a good option for us, but I'm not entirely opposed to trying outdoor if this just isn't a good fit!
 

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Yeah, lol, puppies are quite a handful. My own dog is just started to ease out of the puppy stage (she's around 9 months now, will turn 1 on August 2nd- I'm hoping that she starts acting more grown at around a year, since she's a small breed, lol).

Honestly, I don't know how much I agree with dogs going to the bathroom inside. IMO, it lends itself towards a way of treating the dog that can lead to issues- not walking, taking outside infrequently, poor socialization with new places, poor socialization with people, poor socialization with other dogs, etc.

IMO, going to frequent bathroom breaks outside is important to a young puppy- before they get their shots, bathroom breaks can be almost the full extent of their socialization (since they can't walk around and can't go to parks, etc); its also a way for them t explore/ an enriching experience. When they can't go for walks because they don't have their shots, they tend to be cooped up at home for a lot of the time.

Is he never allowed out of the pen? A puppy has a lot of energy, though it usually comes in small spurts through the day. Not draining that energy and channeling it in a healthy way is a good recipe for an unpleasant dog.

My guess is at least some of the barking and whining has to do with boredom and probably also excessive energy- from the sound of it he spends most of his time in his small pen?

If you are set on litter training, that does not sound like the way to go about it. He has literally no understanding of where you want him to go, as it is. With litter training outside, the dog is getting praised excessively/given treats for going outside and getting loudly interrupted if they are caught going in the house, and then taken immediately outside- it's easy for them to develop a mentality of inside bathroom= owner is displeased, outside bathroom= I get paid in treats +praise.

Either way, whether you continue to litter train him or not (though obviously I would trend towards recommending normal house training), I would suggest only allowing him to be loose in the house when someone responsible (ie, an adult or an older child who is trustworthy) can watch him. I would worry about a pup that small being loose: puppies that young are dumb and accident prone and he must be so teeny. He should only be allowed to have fun outside of his crate or puppy pen after he has already gone to the bathroom, and he should be brought to his potty area (outside or dog litterbox) at least every 20 min, probably more. I would suggest doing so by getting a small harness or collar he wears most of the time and attaching a leash to it, and picking him up and carrying him to where he's suppose to go while saying something like "do you have to go potty?" Every time he drinks, he should quickly be taken to his potty area. When he's where he's supposed to go, you should just stand there and look real un-fun, while saying something like "go bathroom", or "hurry", or whatever. When he goes, wait until he's almost done (if you do it right away he may get startled and stop), and start throwing a quiet potty-party. Clap your hands, say "yay! good bathroom!", act excited. You can be louder once he's done. He should also get a small, fun treat. My pups have always done a happy wiggle dance after because they like "yeah! I did good, I did the thing!" If he gets off the pad before going, say something like "no, no, no, go bathroom". Also, so long as he begins to go to the bathroom in the right place (even if he wanders off at the end), I would give him a treat and act like he did it perfectly. This teaches them 1) a command to ask them if they need to go out (I use "do you gotta go bathroom?"- if my older dog needs to go she'll bark, if my younger pup needs to go she'll start running around and put her ears back and get all wiggly) and 2) help them learn to go to the bathroom on command (I use "go bathroom!").

Also, hope you don't take this the wrong way, but don't fall into the trap of not socializing him and training him as you would a big dog just because he's small! Let me just say, it is a lot more fun to have a dog that listens to you and respects your space, doesn't beg, doesn't bark, and will listen if you tell him to leave the food you just dropped on the floor while you're cooking.

ETA: I would also recommend getting a little coat for winter.
 

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Yeah, lol, puppies are quite a handful. My own dog is just started to ease out of the puppy stage (she's around 9 months now, will turn 1 on August 2nd- I'm hoping that she starts acting more grown at around a year, since she's a small breed, lol).

Honestly, I don't know how much I agree with dogs going to the bathroom inside. IMO, it lends itself towards a way of treating the dog that can lead to issues- not walking, taking outside infrequently, poor socialization with new places, poor socialization with people, poor socialization with other dogs, etc.

IMO, going to frequent bathroom breaks outside is important to a young puppy- before they get their shots, bathroom breaks can be almost the full extent of their socialization (since they can't walk around and can't go to parks, etc); its also a way for them t explore/ an enriching experience. When they can't go for walks because they don't have their shots, they tend to be cooped up at home for a lot of the time.

Is he never allowed out of the pen? A puppy has a lot of energy, though it usually comes in small spurts through the day. Not draining that energy and channeling it in a healthy way is a good recipe for an unpleasant dog.

My guess is at least some of the barking and whining has to do with boredom and probably also excessive energy- from the sound of it he spends most of his time in his small pen?

If you are set on litter training, that does not sound like the way to go about it. He has literally no understanding of where you want him to go, as it is. With litter training outside, the dog is getting praised excessively/given treats for going outside and getting loudly interrupted if they are caught going in the house, and then taken immediately outside- it's easy for them to develop a mentality of inside bathroom= owner is displeased, outside bathroom= I get paid in treats +praise.

Either way, whether you continue to litter train him or not (though obviously I would trend towards recommending normal house training), I would suggest only allowing him to be loose in the house when someone responsible (ie, an adult or an older child who is trustworthy) can watch him. I would worry about a pup that small being loose: puppies that young are dumb and accident prone and he must be so teeny. He should only be allowed to have fun outside of his crate or puppy pen after he has already gone to the bathroom, and he should be brought to his potty area (outside or dog litterbox) at least every 20 min, probably more. I would suggest doing so by getting a small harness or collar he wears most of the time and attaching a leash to it, and picking him up and carrying him to where he's suppose to go while saying something like "do you have to go potty?" Every time he drinks, he should quickly be taken to his potty area. When he's where he's supposed to go, you should just stand there and look real un-fun, while saying something like "go bathroom", or "hurry", or whatever. When he goes, wait until he's almost done (if you do it right away he may get startled and stop), and start throwing a quiet potty-party. Clap your hands, say "yay! good bathroom!", act excited. You can be louder once he's done. He should also get a small, fun treat. My pups have always done a happy wiggle dance after because they like "yeah! I did good, I did the thing!" If he gets off the pad before going, say something like "no, no, no, go bathroom". Also, so long as he begins to go to the bathroom in the right place (even if he wanders off at the end), I would give him a treat and act like he did it perfectly. This teaches them 1) a command to ask them if they need to go out (I use "do you gotta go bathroom?"- if my older dog needs to go she'll bark, if my younger pup needs to go she'll start running around and put her ears back and get all wiggly) and 2) help them learn to go to the bathroom on command (I use "go bathroom!").

Also, hope you don't take this the wrong way, but don't fall into the trap of not socializing him and training him as you would a big dog just because he's small! Let me just say, it is a lot more fun to have a dog that listens to you and respects your space, doesn't beg, doesn't bark, and will listen if you tell him to leave the food you just dropped on the floor while you're cooking.

ETA: I would also recommend getting a little coat for winter.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply Moonstream!

At the time, Charlie was only in the smaller pen for confinement when we couldn't be right with him. It's a 3ft by 3ft square, which was just big enough for his big bed, his food and water area and his litter box. The idea was that he would learn to use the potty box by process of elimination - he wouldn't want to go in his sleeping or eating area, so he would naturally make the right decision to use the box. And that kind of worked - when he was in the pen. Most of the time though, he was out with us, either directly at our feet, being played with, or being held. Then it was on the floor. And honestly, that happened quite a lot. The pen didn't leave room to play, so we'd bring him out. And if we didn't bring him out, he'd cry out of loneliness and boredom I'm sure, which I hated. So it was like choosing between an unhappy potty trained dog and a happy unpotty trained dog. A no win situation.

We've since moved to outdoor training and crate training (we weren't using a crate before) and it's going pretty well. Only 1 accident in the house in 3 days, so I'd say we're doing all right. I do think that indoor potty training is a great option for small dogs in our home situation and I do wish that I had the time to commit to it. A good friend of mine uses a litter box with his min-pin and absolutely swears by it. This dog is the smartest, most well behaved little thing I've ever seen. He also takes regular walks every evening and has no problem going outside when he needs to or knowing where his "spot" is inside. BUT my friend also said he took several weeks off of work to make it happen and he didn't have any kids at the time. As a mom of 4 (and we homeschool), I just don't feel like I had the time to really be dedicated to it and it wasn't fair to Charlie to have me feeling pulled in so many directions and being so inconsistent.

In other news, dang this dog is smart. I've already got him sitting on command and we're working on leash training and "wait" now. He's pretty awesome. :)
 

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Wow, great that you guys home school and are home all day, and so wonderful that your kids now have a pup to grow up with! I think its a great way to instill a sense of concern for others in children- I find the kids I work with (worked at a summer camp for 3 years, 2 or which I was working as a horseback riding teacher, and now have been nannying for a family with a 4 year old and 8 year old) seem to have a much easier time understanding personal space, boundaries, and treating others like you want to be treated with animals (horses/dogs) than they do with other kids. My camp had a bunch of kids with behavioral challenges, as well, and it was remarkable to see them being so patient and gentle with horses when they could barely get along with other kids. I also think that growing up with a dog helped my twin brother (also had some behavioral challenges) develop a better sense of empathy and patience with others.

One suggestion for teaching him to use a litterbox that I thought of would be to wait until he's fully housetrained outside, though it relies on having taught him to go to the bathroom on command to some extent (pretty much just say whatever phrase you want to use for him when he starts going and then cheer for him and give him a treat while repeating the phrase when he's done, it usually takes my pups a week to a month to realize what I want, I just started having success with my new pup who is a nightmare to housetrain and still having accidents). When he's good outside, put the litterbox where he usually goes and put him down on it and use your phrase (I use "hurry up" for one dog and "go bathroom" for the other; I've also heard "go/make potty" and "better hurry"), and continue saying it every so often until he goes on the litterbox, then do the bathroom party thing again. Keep the litterbox inside between the trips. Eventually move to commanding him to go in the litterbox inside, and then he may start using it on his own. I do think using puppy pads/indoor bathroom areas can be useful- especially for small dogs- but I also think it's important to train them to use the outdoors as well and make sure it doesn't become an excuse to never walk them.

Sounds like he found a really great home, though!
 
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