all about puppies

You welcomed a new puppy into your home.  Your dreams of cuddling, fetching and family walks around the neighborhood ended in a screeching halt seven days later when the puppy acted more like an alligator than a canine.

Top Dog Training can help.  Some of the things your puppy will learn during this stage of training is: housebreaking, nipping prevention, socialization, training, circumvention of separation anxiety and feeding schedules. 


First and foremost, your puppy must be socialized (especially between 8th and 14th week). Dogs who are properly socialized at a young age are typically happier, well-adjusted dogs who satisfactorily handle stress.


  • Puppy play/socialization classes with other dogs
  • Car rides that do not end in a visit to the vet or groomer
  • Touching ears, collar, paws, tail, mouth (reward proper behavior)
  • Visits to parks, outdoor stores and dog-friendly restaurants
  • Petting and attention from adults and children
  • Sporting events or other outdoor events that are noisy


Crate Training

The most responsible act for a puppy owner is to train their dog to spend time in the crate. Sadly, many pet owners believe crate training is cruel, and are quick to abandon the crate when the puppy whines and cries. This is unfortunate because eliminating the crate leads to most of the problems puppy owners endure. 

When an owner decides against using the crate, we ask if they would leave a toddler to roam around the house unattended. Naturally, none of them would. We then explain that a free-roaming puppy is in just as much danger as an unattended child and point out electrical wires visible around the room.  The last thing anyone wants to come home to is a puppy who has died, especially by electrocution.  

Some other reasons to crate your dog include:


  • Housebreaking issues – Puppies normally do not eliminate where they eat and sleep
  • Stealing and chewing – crating a puppy when you are unable to keep an eye on him drastically lowers damage to furniture and belongings.
  • Give other animals a break– if animals could speak, they’d all agree puppies are annoying.  Crating a puppy prevents him from bothering other animals in the home, which limits fights.
  • Blockages and surgeries – Every year dogs undergo surgery to remove blockages caused by eating something their bodies cannot pass.
  • Separation Anxiety – dogs need to learn to amuse themselves. Those who become reliant on their human for everything, grow anxious when their caregivers are away from home.
  • Stimulation – puppies either sleep or learn.  Exploring this new world is exhausting for puppies. An over stimulated or tired puppy tends to nip more than usual. Crates allow puppies to relax and sleep without any concern of their surroundings. 
  • Bed wetting – dogs who sleep in bed with their humans often mark their spot by urinating in it.  The bed is marked with human scent and the dog wants to add his scent too. Other bed wetters simply suffer from housebreaking issues or inability to jump off the bed.
  • Injuries – We want to prevent our dogs from falling down the stairs, off furniture (including tables).
  • Running away – we need to protect puppies from slipping out the front door when someone opens it.


Resolving Common Crate Issues:

Crying in the crate: Everything is new to a puppy when they arrive to their new home. They no longer have their litter mates to snuggle with or their mom. The surroundings look and smell foreign to them.  When the family disappears, they are alone for the first time.  It is common for puppies to cry, bark and whine in the crate.  Removing an unhappy puppy (or an older dog) from the crate exacerbates the behavior.  While it is not an easy task, your family must ignore the puppy, even if the protest continues for hours. This practice will likely lead to several sleepless nights, but most puppies will eventually settle down and understand the crate means rest after a few nights. Other than ignoring the behavior, here are tips to help the puppy transition to the crate:


  1. Teach the puppy to walk into the crate. Provide a high-quality treat for doing so.
  2. Feed the puppy in the crate.  Teach him that good things happen there.
  3. Cover the crate at night with a crate cover or blanket.  It will feel more like a den.
  4. Provide a comfortable bed. If the puppy chews on the bed, try a crate mat, a blanket or towels. You can also forego all bedding for safety. The puppy will be fine sleeping on the plastic crate tray.
  5. Find toys your puppy enjoys playing with, and only provide those toys when he is in the crate.
  6. Provide teething toys in the crate
  7. Turn your radio or TV to a talk show.  Talking mimics the same sounds puppies hear when your family is home.  Classical music reportedly calms dogs, however any type of music may trigger stress if it is not regularly played in the house. 
  8. Apply lavender oil to the collar or diffuse lavender oil to soothe the puppy.  Read safety instructions concerning essential oils and pets to ensure the oils do not have a negative effect on the dog. Remember that dog’s noses are much more sensitive than a human nose. Diffuse the same oils when you are around and petting or massaging the dog. This way the scent will remind him of calmness when you are away.
  9. Provide a Kong with peanut butter, pumpkin or dog food.  Freeze it for a longer lasting treat.  Keep in mind that food in the crate can cause the dog to eliminate if you are gone for an extended amount of time. You can suggest they only provide a small amount.  Non-edible chew bones will work too.
  10. Make sure your dog has eliminated before placing him in the crate.
  11. Be fair with the amount of time your dog spends in the crate.
  12. Sometimes when a crate is too big, the puppy does not feel secure. He may also eliminate in an oversized crate.  Use a crate divider to limit the space the puppy will use.


Eliminating in the crate is another issue you will face.  On occasion, we will meet a dog who sleeps in his waste. These dogs are referred to as “dirty dogs”. Dirty dogs are not too common. Most dogs try hard to avoid eliminating in the crate. That said, there is only so long a dog can wait before they have an accident. These dogs are usually found huddled in the corner of their crate in an attempt to avoid the mess.  You must ensure the crate is not so large that the dog can sleep in one corner and poop in the other. A crate should be large enough for the dog to turn around and lie down.  Metal crates come with a divider. The divider can be used to limit the space the puppy has access too.  It also allows the crate to grow with the puppy.  Rubber carry crates do not come with a divider. These must be purchased by size to ensure it is not too big or too small.  In addition to decreasing the size of the crate, it is recommended that you feed the dog in the crate. Dogs typically do not poop where they eat.



Housebreaking is the most difficult part of training for puppy owners. Basically, because housebreaking a puppy is a full-time job. By the time you get a puppy to eliminate, it’s time for the next meal and the process repeats. In reality, while housebreaking is annoying, it is also quite simple.


  1. Limit food to 20 minutes. If the dog hasn’t eaten in that time, take the food away until the next meal.  Dogs who graze will eat a little and poop a little throughout the entire day.


To ease your concerns relating to this rule

      1. Dogs will not starve. They will eat when they are hungry. 
      2. Puppies eat three times a day so they don’t have to wait too many hours for the next meal.


A puppy will typically eliminate anywhere between 15 minutes and 1 hour and 15 minutes after a meal. Smaller dogs may eliminate immediately following a meal, while larger dogs will go hours later.


Successful owners:

  • Crate their puppies immediately after a meal and keep them crated for ten minutes. Smaller dogs who eliminate immediately should be taken outside the moment they finish their meal.  
  • Note: a crate and X-Pen are two different things. X-Pens are play areas for puppies.  These are oversized and puppies always have accidents in them.  An X-Pen should only be used after the puppy has gone to the bathroom.
  • If you don’t use the crate, you should attach the leash to yourself so you can keep a constant eye on the dog. The moment you turn your back, the dog will go to the bathroom. No freedom until after the dog has gone to the bathroom.
  • Walk the puppy on leash. No freedom. They have a job to do. Puppies who walk freely or unsupervised are easily distracted by everything.  The distractions will cause them to hold their waste until they are back indoors. You cannot keep track of an outdoor, free-roaming puppy and often are unsure if the dog has eliminated.
  • Walk the dog in the yard for 5 to 10 minutes. If the dog eliminates, then reward the dog with a treat (or yard freedom). If the dog fails to eliminate, he will go back in the crate for another 15 minutes.  This practice will continue until the dog goes to the bathroom. Never remain outside with the dog for extended periods of time waiting for him to go to the bathroom.  The dog needs to know where he can eliminate (outdoors) and where he cannot (indoors).  
  • Keep a chart listing feeding times, time of elimination and accidents. This helps you learn your puppy’s system.  If their dog repeatedly eliminates three hours after a meal, then they begin the housebreaking ritual at the 2.5 hour mark.


  1. Provide water with every meal. Dogs need to drink when they eat. When the meal is pulled off the floor, so is the water. Puppies with continuous access to water usually have the highest rate of indoor accidents.

You can mix a little water in the dry kibble to ensure the dog gets fluids with the meal.

Pulling the water off the floor does not mean denying the dog water. A puppy should receive water after vigorous play, when he appears thirsty or at any point during the day that you want to provide water. A puppy will typically urinate 10 to 20 minutes after lapping water. Provide water only when you have the time to wait for the puppy to urinate. Again, the times provided are “typical”. Some dogs urinate sooner, while others will hold it for much longer.


Successful owners:

  • Crate their puppies immediately after a drinking water and keep them crated for ten minutes. 
  • If you don’t use the crate, you should attach the leash to yourself so you can keep a constant eye on the dog. No freedom until after the dog has gone to the bathroom.
  • Walk the puppy on leash. 
  • Walk your dog in the yard for 5 to 10 minutes. If the dog urinates, reward the dog with a treat (or yard freedom). If the dog fails to urinate, he will go back in the crate for another 10 minutes.  This practice will continue until the dog goes to the bathroom The dog needs to know where he can eliminate (outdoors)and where he cannot (indoors).  
  • Keep a chart listing drinking times, time of elimination, which includes accidents and properly eliminating outdoors.


  1. You should bring your puppy outside first thing in the morning, after all naps, anytime you have left the dog in the crate for hours, before going out, before going to bed and periodically throughout the day (not just after meals).
  • Before releasing a puppy from the crate, you must be ready to go straight outside. This means, your shoes and jacket are on and the leash is in your hand.  If you free the puppy from the crate and then prepare to go outdoors, plan on spending time cleaning up bathroom accidents.
  • Puppies should wear a harness and drag a leash anytime they are free from the crate and supervised by family members. A puppy can injure himself with the harness and leash, therefore, neither the harness, nor the leash should be left on an unattended or crated puppy. As a safety measure, most families also remove the collar from an unsupervised puppy.  
  • Should you catch a puppy in the process of having an indoor accident or about to go, you should startle the puppy by yelling “no” and either clapping their hands or use a sound correction (a can with pennies). Then immediately, pick up the leash and lead the puppy outdoors.  If the puppy finishes going to the bathroom outdoors, reward him with food.  If the dog emptied himself indoors and does not continue elimination when you bring him outside, simply bring him indoors without any further reprimanding. The moment has passed.  NEVER USE A CRATE FOR PUNISHING.
  • If you find an accident after the fact, you should not reprimand the puppy. It is too late. Besides, the only way you find an accident after the fact is when you’re not keeping a close enough eye on their dog. Puppies should NEVER be left unattended.

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