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Hello All,

My wife and I are proud first time dog/puppy owners. We have an 8 week old female pug which we have had for little over a week now. I wanted to reach out and make sure we are heading down the right path with her training in regards to crate training, potty training and really anything else. I understand that we are a week in and its takes time to train and she is young and only a puppy. I am mostly concerned about our approach and making sure we are consistent with what is right. Puppies will be puppies, this I understand.

Quick summary of the previous week...

Before we got Nugget, my wife and I read the book "Training the best dog ever" by Dawn Sylvia-Stasicwicz and Larry Kay. The book is based on the principle of positive reinforcement when training dogs.

We received her last Sunday and brought her home. She wasn't too active the first two days. She slept a majority of the time and ate little food. Once she became acclimated and comfortable with our apartment, she quickly became the Dora the Explorer, running around playing with her toys. Her eating increased and by the end of the week we had setup a feeding schedule. 7 - 8 AM, 12-1 PM, 6-7 PM. We split her meals up into 3 smaller meals because her attention span to eat is very short and she would end up wasting alot of food.

We worked on things like "soft mouth" which is covered in the first week of the book. Teaching your dog to keep their nipping soft using a loud YIPE! or Ouch! and letting your hand go limp. If it proceeds, remove yourself from the dog along with the toys to show how this action yields this result.

We have also worked on "watch me" using a treat, to keep her attention on our eyes. Some leash training and sit without the command "Sit". Right now using a treat to make her sit at attention.

We have seen alot of progress in these areas over the last week.

We have also used a crate at night, during naps, or when we need her secured for a short amount of time. We have not gotten fully to the point where she will go in and stays in on her own.

Now for the stuff that were a bit lost on...

--- Potty Training ----

Something we haven't been able to get a grasp on and isn't covered (in my opinion) in enough detail is house training. We live in a 4th floor apartment that has a deck. She hasn't received her second round of vaccinations since she is too young. We'll be getting them in 2 weeks. So taking her outside isn't an option due to disease from other dogs. Its also difficult to run her down 4 flights of stairs to go potty when its an emergency. We decided to purchase Fresh Patch (patch of turf) and put it on the deck to get the feeling of going on grass. We take her out on a lease for the following

- After each meal
- any time we take her out of her crate
- anytime she is sniffing around in circles and exhibiting her bathroom like behavior
- anytime before we put her in her crate
- before we leave for work
- before she goes to bed

We have had little success with this approach. She has pee'd maybe 4 times and pooped twice outside. All other times it has happened either randomly in a random place, or within her play pen (which is another topic i want to cover). It seems like the only consistent bathroom tendency is when she is put in her play pen if we need to go somewhere and she goes out of separation anxiety. Any input/advice on this topic would be very appreciated. We just want to know we are approaching this right.

---Crate or Play pen? And Separation Anxiety ----

Like I said earlier we use the crate for short bursts of time, no more than 2 hours and the play pen for anything longer so she has a puppy pad, water, toys and her crate to crawl into. Little more background on her playpen. In our guest room/my home office (i work from home alot) we have an x pen that has an area covered to provide a "Den like" structure she can nest in with her bed and toys. There is also water and a puppy pad. We are trying to use this a place she can play when I need to get stuff done for work. She cries for almost 20 minutes when placed in there until falling asleep out of pure exhaustion. If placed in her crate, she whines for about 3 minutes before laying down and relaxing. We also have the kitchen (which we used today for the first time, I had to be gone for 4 hours) which gives her the most ample amount of room to play. We are also able to place her crate, puppy pad, food and water in the kitchen. We are looking into puppy sitters to come and check on her for anything longer than 4 hours. So our question is, when we can not keep an eye on her and devote attention to her, should we just crate her when we are home? We were hoping the x pen was going to give her the ability to play while I work but she ends up clawing and biting at the gate, never playing. She seems calmer in her crate but it almost seems unfair and borderline cruel to put her in there rather than in her x pen. Some advice here would be awesome. Also, I know you are NOT supposed to respond to crying because it instills in them that crying gets you to return. Should we just continue with the play pen and just let her cry/yipe it out? I think me being in the room only exacerbates the situation because she can see me.

---Freedom to roam -----

Last topic. In the book it mentioned having them tethered to you at all times to establish dominance. She for the most part goes along with it, but then goes on a violent tug of war thrashing session to get off out of her collar. Any advice on how much freedom a puppy should have to roam would be great. Should she contained to a single area? We keep a majority of the doors closed but have a WIDE open dinning room and living room which for a small pug gives alot of room to run and get into mischief and pee/poop. Any advice here would be great.

Last words. I know pugs are very stubborn and are said to be one of the more difficult to house train but I want to make sure we are taking the correct approaches. We love her so much and want to make sure we are instilling the proper training so she grows up to be a well behaved pug.

Thanks for any and all advice!

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We have had little success with this approach. She has pee'd maybe 4 times and pooped twice outside. All other times it has happened either randomly in a random place, or within her play pen (which is another topic i want to cover). It seems like the only consistent bathroom tendency is when she is put in her play pen if we need to go somewhere and she goes out of separation anxiety.
I would add to that list immediately after meals, and half-1 hr later, and after play. And every 3 hours or so, if it's been that long since last.

I'd stay out there with her until she does go, and reward her like crazy when she does. If you're only taking her out on lead, that could be a bit of a prob - perhaps she doesn't feel comfortable enough to go on lead, or perhaps she's preoccupied with the exploring she's not allowed to do first.

And I'd watch her like a hawk when she's inside, try to catch & interrupt her before - as she's about to go where it's inappropriate. Say uh-uh!, clap your hands or such, to give immediate, unpleasant consequences for her and take her immediately outside.

I'd also teach her some cue that she can give when she wants to go out. My dogs have a bell by the door that they ring when they need.

If she goes in her 'playpen' when you're out, not much you can do about that. You can teach her, via above, not to go in it when you're there, but she already knows it is fine to do it when you're out. Dogs need *instant* feedback to learn stuff. No point in punishing her after you come home. If the playpen is a temporary arrangement, you should be able to teach her not to go inside generally, then when you get rid of the pen, she will hopefully continue. The problem is if she is associating being left alone, rather than the pen, with toilet inside...

Re crating/penning, yeah, you need somewhere to confine her, but you don't want it to be stressful. Like 'controlled crying' & so called 'sleep training' techniques for babies/children, I believe just leaving them to cry is not generally the best - the dog/child learns 'helplessness' and often becomes more anxious, regardless of whether it also learns crying is pointless. It's often taken to extreme & can cause a lot more stress.

BUT of course, the dog also needs to learn that it won't get them their own way. So I would start out being there with her, acknowledging her & her upsettedness, but not letting her out, or actively playing with her, unless she's quiet. And ensuring you DO let her out when she's quiet - even if it's only a temporary respite. Once she learns that's the way to go, then you can 'up the ante' & not let her out straight away, not be present with her, etc. Just 'build' on your strong foundations gradually. Don't expect too much of a new, 8 week old baby.

Last topic. In the book it mentioned having them tethered to you at all times to establish dominance.
I strongly disagree with the 'dominance theory' of training. So on that note, I completely disagree with doing that.

But many do it to control the dog. I also wouldn't want to have the dog always tethered to me, for practical reasons, as well as it giving her no time to herself(aside from when she's locked up. I think close supervision is vital, but also some freedom, so she can learn what she should/should not do. Otherwise if she never gets the opportunity, it's like trying to teach a child manners & restraint by just keeping the cookie jar well out of reach.

goes on a violent tug of war thrashing session to get off out of her collar.
Yeah, of course, being tethered by the neck is not natural to them, and the innate reaction is to fight it. She just has to learn that this never works, and what does work to get her what she wants, to release the pressure, is to go along with it, on a loose lead, follow a feel... If she has got loose from her collar, she has learned that fighting it works. So you will need to prevent that, and because she's already had 'practice' at this working, she will be more inclined to do it, and do it harder, before she finally gives it up because it never works.

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My main advice is for the potty training: wait outside with her until she goes. If she's being stubborn, read a book and wait. Once she goes, give her treats and praise. If you catch her going inside, scold her gently (don't hit her!) and take her outside. She should soon learn that if she wants treats instead of scolding, she should go outside.

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about the house leash (i.e. tethered to you at all time).
I personally like it, but not because of dominance reasons. I'd use a long, regular leash (5 m), no flexi. it should be long enough for the dog to lay down somewhere comfortably, while you're working at something different.
It's just a tool though and so it's never said it's good for every human and every dog and of course, there are people that can do terrible damage with a basic flat collar and a leash, So a puppy on a leash definitively should be handled carefully and gently without force.

Leashing the human to the animal means that the human spends a lot of time with the animal and gives the animal this time to get used to being close to them without actually doing something most of the time.
This relaxed time together combined with training, play and feeding from the hand instead from the bowl, can help to kickstart the relationship at the beginning.
It gives the dog time to learn the leash and the collar/harness as somethingt normal and practise leash-walking outside of walks.
it gives control, since you notice when the dog shows unwanted behaviour and can redirect the dog's attention towards you right away.

It gives you control too when the dog is starting to act like it needs to do its business, so that the handler can bring them outside right away and so prevent mishaps.
this means of course you've got to be fast. keep your shoes on, sleep in cloths that you can also wear outside and when the dog is starting to search for a nice place, tug it under the arm and run down the stairs like a devil is chasing behind you.
If you're too slow, don't sweat it and be faster next time.
If you make it in time: throw a party for yourself and the dog.

It's only for a few weeks or months...healthy human children need years for that. :rolleyes:

· Premium Member
11,832 Posts
Welcome to the forum! :wave:
Congrats on your puppy! I hope you'll share a pic or two. I really love pugs! Such fun dogs!

--- Potty Training ----
This is a pretty nice how-to thread for house training.
A couple specific thoughts...
-Your situation is one where I would personally paper or pad train!
Once trained and reliable with a single pad, you could begin moving it toward the balcony until it's actually out there and then transition to the patch you've purchased.
If wanting to continue your current path:
-If you aren't already, reward with a treat and lavish praise and attention as soon as your puppy finishes going to the bathroom on the patch.
-If you know she needs to potty but hasn't then keep her very close (be ready to scoop her up and rush her out to the patch if you see any indication she is ready to go) and try again in 10 to 15 minutes repeating until you do have success.
-Be sure you're cleaning with an enzyme based cleaner.
-Just in case... Don't scold or correct accidents. Some dogs might figure it out. But a great many actually learn not to potty in front of people so start going where owners can't see or when owners aren't paying attention instead.
-if the accidents in her pen are anxiety related you'll need to work on helping her feel comfortable alone to really make progress there.

---Crate or Play pen? And Separation Anxiety ----
Every owner, home, and dog is a different, so not uncommon to have to figure out what works best for you.
Personally I would both crate sometimes when you are home as well as work on her settling in the play pen. As you have to work, you might crate for now and work on settling in the pen when you aren't working and can devote the time and attention to train.

What I like to with puppies or new dogs is to set a routine of activity/fun with me followed by settle/relaxation repeating throughout the day.
So for example when I got my youngest dog (he was probably 10-12 weeks when adopted) his day was something like:
-Wake up, potty, play!
-Into playpen with breakfast in a stuffed kong or other food dispensing toy. I would shower and go about my morning routine. I would drop extra treats or pieces of his dry food for calm/quiet.
-outside for potty, some polite walking, recalls, and play. I have other dogs so also often then joined them in exploring our yard.
-back inside and into pen for a bit with a fun chew while I took care of emails and other business stuff. Again dropping in treats or dry food for clam and quiet.
-out again for potty, and something fun.
- Back to pen with something to do quietly.

Ime setting this routine of fun and activity followed by downtime helps teach dogs to settle when the owner is busy and also to self entertain. Being proactive and providing something special to quietly occupy a puppy with such as meals from food dispensing toys, a bully stick, himalayan chew etc. in addition to the toys they already have really helps initially with self entertaining and creating a pleasant association with the situation. The extra treats dropped for being calm and quiet reinforce relaxing making calm/quiet more and more likely than barking, whining, etc.

Normally my dogs catch on very quickly. By 6 months, my youngest was really pretty reliable. I sometimes still used his crate or pen when unable to supervise certain chews and food toys (I have multiple dogs). Now at two years, I don't really have to do much at all. Like my other dogs, he settles immediately or gets a chew toy on his own any time I'm busy and not paying attention.

---Freedom to roam -----
How much freedom depends on you and maturity and housetraining of your puppy.
When itty bitty babies, I don't give a ton of freedom as I want housetraining to be solid. So I crate/pen when I am not home or am unable to supervise. When I can pay close attention keep them in the same room. Tethering works pretty well for many. I've never tethered personally. I exercise pens to close off open areas, baby gates, and closed doors. I have however had a tab or regular leash on on and dragging so I could better manage my puppy. As they mature and become reliable with housetraining, I give more and more freedom.
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