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Puppy potty training – Alangus Mini Aussies: A Dog Blog
Jan 272014
 

Since my last post, I am still sold on using a litter box for potty training puppies and giving them an alternative potty place when no one is home to let them outside.  The management and cleanliness over the other methods I have used is much superior.

I have evaluated three different kinds of litter for the puppies and two containers and would like to share my experience for my puppy buyers and also for breeders that may be considering this method of potty training.

Sterlite Type Under Bed Container

Pros:  Room for puppies to move around a bit, contains litter very well with 6″ sides. Easy to clean. Easy to use small dustpan to scoop litter out to garbage for emptying.

Cons: Puppies with very short legs had trouble scaling the side to get in but once they were 5 weeks old and learned to hop over, no issues.  Container is heavy when filled.

Rabbit Hutch Tray

Pros: Shallow for ease of entry and exit.  Contained litter well.

Cons: Little boys found they could stand with front feet inside, back legs outside the container for peepee.  No problems on poopies.

Wood Stove Pellets from Tractor Supply

Pros: Pups did not try to eat the pellets. Turned to sawdust when wet.  Minimal smell. $4.50 for 40 pound bag.  Made of compressed wood sawdust so biodegradable

Cons: Pellets were not as compact and bags contained some sawdust from purchase.

Horse Bedding Pellets

Pros: Pups did not try to eat the pellets. Turned to sawdust when wet.  Minimal smell.  Liquid seemed to “disappear” with no dampness in bottom of tray. Pellets were very compressed with no sawdust in bag. $5.00 for 40 pound bag.  Made of compressed wood sawdust so biodegradable. Minimal tracking. Easy to scoop solids with cat litter scoop.

Cons: I didn’t find any cons unless you are allergic to the wood source, a non issue for me.

Dog Litter Box Pellets from PetCo (ordered online)

Pros: Non allergenic because made of compressed newspaper. Minimal to no smell. No tracking. Easy to scoop solids with cat litter scoop.

Cons: Pups liked to carry the pellets around and chew on them (at 6 weeks old). $17 per 18 pound bag. Paper absorbed the urine rather than changing form.

Evaluation:  For a litter of six puppies, starting at 3-4 weeks old, the combination of under bed box and rabbit hutch tray has been sufficient for containers for litter box training. Long term as a puppy grows, I would prefer the under bed box.   My choice of puppy litter is the horse bedding pellets from Tractor Supply both for practicality and cleanliness and price.  The textures of the 3 kinds of pellets are similar, so it is easy to transfer from one to the other and is a matter of preference and price.

Jan 212014
 

This new litter of Mini Aussie/ Mini American Shepherd puppies has been my trial run for litter box training and I am sold that it works much better than any other method I have tried.  Previously, I have used disposable pee pads and washable pee pads, the latter being the best of those two methods.  However, I learned that the washable pee pads sometimes led the puppies to believe it was okay for them to potty on their owner’s rugs since the fabric texture was what their feet were searching for as a potty area.  The litter is like nothing else found in our home environment so they can’t be confused about what is “okay”.

I have a series of YouTube videos on litter training for anyone interested but thought I would outline the steps I have taken that have worked very well.  As a retired teacher, I always have the desire to learn and also to teach.  As I was researching litter box training for dogs, I found very little worthwhile information with sequential steps from puppy hood.  Mostly folks show a picture of their final setup with a dog walking in to the box to potty.  Well, how did they get to that point??

When my puppies are born, they sleep with their dam in a Perla bed which keeps them contained in a safe and warm environment.  For the first 2-2 1/2 weeks they are unable to move out of that area and their mama dog keeps them clean and neat so potty training is a moot point.  However, once they open their eyes and ears, they start to explore and before long their little legs start to take them out into the big world around them.

At the point that they are able to roll out of their Perla bed, I changed  to the bottom half of a large plastic kennel lined with “vet bed” and left it open for the mama to come in and out.  Across from the kennel bottom, I placed the other half of the kennel lined with bed pads that you find at the drug store or Walmart. I used a large clamp to hold the two together so there were no cracks for them to fall through.  I gave them a ramp (rolled up towel) to toddle over into their bathroom area and gave them practice moving from one side to the other.  I spend a lot of time with my puppies, so I tried to move them over and back many times during the day and before long they were starting to potty on the pad.  Excellent–first step completed!  The good part was that the mama dog could jump in and out gingerly when she needed to and the puppies were contained.

As the puppies have matured, they got some time out on the floor to play and explore, but when I wasn’t watching and during the night, I made sure the halves of the crate were clamped together so they had two options, sleep in their bed, or potty in their bathroom.  Before long, I was waking up in the morning to their knowing the difference in the two areas.  Slowly, I started to add the litter on top of the pee pad.  At first it was very alien to the puppies and they weren’t sure what to do so I kept enough of the pad surface showing for their feet to feel what they were used to.   This step, introduction of litter completed!

Once the first bold puppy learned to topple out of the bed at night, I had to change out the plan once again.  I added a Sterlite under the bed plastic box to the pen area with a pad and just some litter covering the pad and many times during the day moved the puppies into that area saying “go potty” and giving praise.   I continued to keep the other kennel half with a pad and litter available as well so there were now two areas.  As much as possible overnight, I contained the puppies in their bed using my Iris fencing along side so they still had two options, sleep or potty.  During the day, I moved the fence outwards for play and eating areas along with their potty places.  During this step, I continued to make the litter deeper but still having some pad showing in places.  It was amazing for me to see them moving on their own to the litter box, especially for their number twos.

Two of the babies had very short legs, so instead of getting a second Sterlite box, I took away the kennel bottom and added a plastic rabbit hutch tray again lined with a pad and litter.  The short sides were easy to walk over and it was still large enough for the puppies to do their dance.  At this stage the kennel area contained their bed, eating area, Sterlite litter box and rabbit hutch litter box.  Lots more practice and by 4 weeks old, we are at nearly 100% on poops and 80% on peepees, which seem to be a little harder, especially right after napping.  Some just can’t wait!

In another week or so, my plan is to phase out the rabbit tray and add the second Sterlite box because two will fit perfectly across the back of my Iris pen area.  I’m predicting to be in the high 90th percentile on everything by then and little legs will have lengthened to make it easy for everyone.

I have continued to use the bed pads under the litter just because it is so easy to roll everything up and toss in the garbage.  With six puppies, I like to change out the litter daily although I keep it scooped often.  I’m thinking with just one puppy it wouldn’t be necessary to change the litter but occasionally, weekly maybe, and the pads won’t be necessary for the new owners.

Why would you litter box train a puppy/dog?  I am an advocate for teaching a puppy to go outside to do their business, but those first few months or even long term, there may be times when no one is home and rather than have a mess why not have a puppy trained to have a place to go and keep the owners happy.  Overnight, it is also really nice during bad weather to have options if you don’t want to take the dog out.

How will we transition?  Easy!  I am currently using wood stove pellets which are compressed sawdust and biodegradable.  When the weather clears and the puppies are big enough to put on the ground, I will just put some of their litter out on the grass or garden area where I want them to learn to potty.  They know the texture and the smell and will be drawn to the litter.

Wood stove pellets are sold at home stores like Tractor Supply, 40 pounds for $5, which I have stored in a plastic garbage can.   I doubt they are available during the summer, so it may be necessary to stock up.  I have also been told that the pellets that are used for horse bedding are similar and perhaps more compressed so I will also try those and evaluate the difference.  If wood stove pellets are not available, actual dog litter made from compressed newspaper is available at Petco and other big box stores, but for a substantially higher price.  Cat litter should NOT be used because it could be ingested.  In my experience, puppies do not eat the pellets which has also been a pleasant surprise.

I am convinced that training new puppies to use a litter box will help the new owners and it certainly has made my life much easier and kept their area clean and neat.  I’m a believer!

 

Apr 302012
 

The puppies are into their 3rd week of life and I started them on food today and they took right to it. The first week, I use a mix of the puppy food I like (Diamond Natural Puppy for Small Breeds) mixed with Puppy Gold which is a milk like product for puppies and a little hot water to make a gruel. They were all about it. I could tell from their fussing they weren’t getting satisfied so I’ll offer them food 3 or 4 times a day and let Izzy clean up the leftovers.

The puppies are moving about a lot in the last couple of days. I changed out the big Perla whelping bed for a crate that is big enough for them and Izzy and they’ve learned to come in and out on their own. By the end of the week, I’ll change it out again for a small crate since Izzy won’t be with them for very long at a time. She’s about finished except for letting them nurse 3 or so times a day.

The puppies are starting to come out to potty so I put a pee pad just outside their crate door for them. Their instinct tells them to leave their den for business, which is the first step in potty training. Once they start to be rambunctious, the paper one will be traded for the washable kind.

The progression is interesting for the mama dog with puppies.  It goes from constant watchfulness and fierce protection, to the “let me out to rest” phase, to ” please keep them away” at about 5 weeks. Once weaned at 6-7 weeks, the mama will go back to them to play and train them, a very important time I think which is why I like  keep them until 8 weeks old.

 Posted by at 1:53 am
Feb 042012
 

Mini Aussie Puppy with Veterinarian

We had the vet check this morning and first shots on my litter of mini aussie puppies.  All good!!  I knew it would be, but I always like them to be checked from head to toe just to be sure.  With a litter of puppies, it is nice to use a mobile veterinarian that comes to my house, less stress on the puppies, less stress on me.  After, the exams Dr. Rubsche gave them some cookies so they will associate her with only happy thoughts 🙂

So….weather is mild here in Kentucky and we did our first potty run this afternoon.  Kinda hard with 5 little munchkins, but everyone ran the yard and pooped.  Yay!!! good start.  I have undergound fencing for my adult dogs, so I need to be an octopus to keep all the little ones contained.  Luckily, my male is a really good babysitter and he rounds them up if they head toward the boundary line as did Fancy, their mom.  Sooooo cute, those little balls of fluff running around!!  They had the look of wild abandon on their faces.  Priceless!

Since they are doing so well, I’ve changed them over to 3 meals a day rather than free feeding.  That way I can guesstimate their poop action and now get them out in time.  Sure makes for less cleanup and starting them on their potty training.  It seems I always do some free feeding at first until they are fully weaned, but now ready to start the training phase.

 Posted by at 1:03 am
Jan 292012
 

Okay, I’m crying Uncle on using peepads with this litter. They are absolutely having a blast turning them into giblets even when they are in a holder. And, of course, when I find them sleeping so contentedly and ask “who” all I get are innocent little puppy smiles.

So now I’m trying something different and actually it’s not too bad. I ordered some small pooch pads (otherwise named whelping pads) for other uses, but they fit in the peepad holders quite nicely. I have read reviews from other folks that using them instead of disposable is a viable option and so far I’m liking the outcome.

The washable pads soak up the peepee nicely and it doesn’t soak through. It is also easy to use a baby wipe to pick up the poo and just put it in a ziplock to throw away in the garbage. By the way, using a large ziploc saves smell in the garbage and can be filled up before discarding. At the end of the day or when it’s really messy, I just throw the pad in the washer like a cloth diaper and put in a fresh one.  It does feel good to know I’m not putting more garbage in the landfill and I’m hoping using the holders is teaching the puppies the “acceptable” place since they have to step up onto it. Now all this said, I’m an advocate of training dogs to go outside but at 6 weeks old or overnight during training that just isn’t doable.  

 Posted by at 8:33 pm