Be “Frustration Free”
Listen to your dog. When you see and hear frustration in its voice or body language, ease off. Don’t let your dog fail twice in a row.
Go back a step and ask for an easy trick it knows well, and smile and remember how proud you are of your awesome little buddy. You’ll relax, and your dog will relax, and you’ll enjoy yourselves. It gets easier over time, not harder.
U-Haul 10 lb packing paper (blank newsprint) is $10 for 100 sheets and half a sheet fits my sDIY Indoor Potty just fine. That’s a nickel per use and it’s absorbent and basically sterile. It works so well that we could continue with it indefinitely if we wanted to.
This is critical because it helps your dog anticipate and mentally/emotionally prepare for the day. Here’s ours (at 10 weeks):
- Wake at 5:30 (7:00 on weekends)
- Sit to ask to leave the kennel, then potty immediately in the potty box.
- Close monitor Kitto on leash as he drags it around to investigate the bedroom/bath.
- Kitto poops about 5 minute after waking up. The urge hits suddenly and fast, but Kitto will go in the potty if it’s close and visible.
- Family morning rituals, coffee/breakfast.
- Kitto’s breakfast is one of: handfed some of Daddy’s food from Daddy’s dog bowl, self-feed from Daddy’s dog bowl, play with Bob A Lot (Small) to get food, play with a new breakfast toy Daddy has made (like hiding kibble in muffin tin, under plain muffin papers so he has to remove them to eat).
- Watch for more potty behavior. He sometimes goes #1 or #2 again (time varies).
- Clicker training w/ Daddy.
- Daddy goes to work, and Kitto comes with. Kitto plays with chew toys and naps.
- Lunch is about noon. Daddy usually handfeeds his food out of his bowl.
- Excited/Energetic play for 10 or 15 minutes. Throw a ball, chase, practice walking together around obstacles around the house. (Kitto cannot go outside yet.)
- Daddy goes back to work, and Kitto usually naps again at his feet.
- Kids come home from school. Potty time, then play time.
- The family does normal family stuff until dinner, involving Kitto (still on leash, usually attached to a table leg or chair) whenever possible.
- At 10 weeks old, the family focuses mostly on bonding, teaching Kitto to be gentle (especially with his mouth), manners (Kitto offers “sit” normally now to say please), and asking Kitto for “kisses” (any kind of soft muzzle bump or lick on an offered hand, fingers down like strangers often do).
- Evening routine is similar, with the main difference being at 7:30 – 8:00 PM, Kitto gets tired out and chooses one of us and a lap to fall asleep on. We carry him to the kennel and put him in (he is quiet and happy about this), and he sleeps until morning. We have never had to take him out at night, and he has never woken us up.
Use “high value” training rewards. This means saving the “best toys” (not made specifically for chewing, usually) for training sessions so they’re special. It also means using a GREAT edible reward (also called “bait”) if you’re clicker training.
Zak George uses tiny bits (smaller than a pea) of cooked chicken. We use AllProvide with Kitto in the same way. We can get 25 rewards out of a tablespoon at a time, with training sessions sometime after Kitto has had a chance to eat dry kibble first. This makes it easy to train two to three ten-minute sessions a day while we limit (and account for) the AllProvide calories. Limiting the amount of bait naturally puts a time limit on the session, which helps keep Kitto interested and hungry for more at the end.