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Puppy Training Dilemma

Kelly Roper

Puppy Training Dilemma

Visitor Question

  • I have a Daschund/Cocker Spaniel mix. She was born on Christmas Day, and is the sweetest critter I've ever seen. I am gone from the house from 10:30 in the morning to approximately 6:30 to 7:00 at night. What is the best method to train her? I've tried blocking off my kitchen area, but she climbs any gate that I've put up! As far as crate training goes, I can't be sure that I will get a chance to come home sometime during the day to let her out or not. Right now I'm using puppy pads, and I've also sent away for a "Wizdog" (can be seen at Have you ever heard of the Wizdog? It's supposed to be like litter training, only without the litter.

Thanks for your help!

Cheri PS: I've also had people tell me that my lifestyle is really not suited for a dog, but so far Maggie hasn't shown any adverse side effects to being left alone for so long. I live by myself, and when I come in, it's all about her! She even sleeps with me at night, or curls up with me in the recliner and takes a little snooze during the day. If I'm sitting at my craft table making my jewelry, the only way she is happy is if she is sitting behind me in the same chair! She has also been around several of my friends, and seems to socialize very well. What is your opinion on my being gone so long during the day? Is this going to make Maggie turn from a "little darling" into a "little devil?"

Expert Answer

Hi Cheri,

Lots of questions here! First of all, yes an eight hour stretch is a long time for a puppy to be left alone during the training period, but adult dogs seem to handle this much alone time quite well in most cases. Your puppy is becoming accustomed to it as a way of life, which is much easier than springing it on her after conditioning her to expect you home all day.

Now for training. I've always preferred training dogs to go outside, and dog doors can be very useful for this purpose. However, weewee pads come in handy when you can't come home for long periods. I would suggest that in order to get her initial potty training completed, you invest in sending your pup to a dog day care facility in your area. Many of these places offer this kind of training, and they show you how to reinforce what puppy has learned at home. And no, I'm not familiar with the Wizdog, but carries an outdoor product called a Peeing Post that is treated with pheramones to attract your pet to one area for pottying.

Fence climbing; my suggestion is to ditch your current gate and install one of those lower half swinging doors and a latch. If you can get one with a scratch guard, that is even better, or you can screw a piece of plexi-glass over the door for protection.

Finally, unless your puppy begins displaying destructive behavior, don't worry about it. Be sure to supply her with suitable chewing toys, give her attention when you are home, and everything should go well. Remember, dogs are incredibly flexible creatures as long as they are well fed and well loved.

Thanks for the questions.

New Puppy Challenges

We recently introduced a nine-week-old Malamute puppy into our home. She whines and howls whenever she is separated from us. It happens when she's crated by our bed at night, or when she's confined in the laundry room off the kitchen where she has full view of all activities.

We think she has been removed from her mother and litter mates too soon. Any suggestions on how to acclimate the puppy to her surroundings, yet still keep her in contained areas for training?

~~ Diana

Expert Reply

Hi Diana,

This is fairly typical behavior for a new puppy that has recently been separated from her mom and siblings. Although I've always preferred pups to remain with their canine family for the first ten to twelve weeks, it is acceptable to separate them at nine weeks if the pups are fully weaned.

Unfortunately, time is the best way to acclimate. You are doing the right thing by keeping her confined while she's being house trained. If you gave her full run of your home right now, she'd probably have accidents and become confused about where she's supposed to do her business. You're also doing the right thing by keeping her confined at night when you can't monitor what she might get into.

I do have a few suggestions for you. Our articles on Crate Training Your Dog, and Potty Training Your Dog provide useful tips that should help speed training along. You might also want to check out some of the guides listed in our article on Dog Training Books. I especially like anything listed in the "For Dummies" series. Don't let the titles throw you off; these books simply break training down into the simplest steps that dogs can understand.

Keep in mind that your puppy is going through a major adjustment right now. She doesn't know her place in her new "pack", and she's looking to you to help her figure it out. The best thing you can do right now is:

  • Be consistent in your expectations from her.
  • Give her plenty of loving praise when she does well.
  • Do not reward her with attention when she whines and howls.
  • Take her outside to potty on a regular schedule.
  • A rousing session of playtime about one hour prior to bedtime will help tire her out.
  • Provide her with a nice big chew toy she can take in the crate with her at night.

I know this is a difficult time, but we all go through it when we bring a new puppy home. Just keep in mind what a great companion she's going to make once the major training is finished.

Best wishes~~ Kelly

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Puppy Training Dilemma