Question: We’d like to train our new puppy to use both a puppy “pee pad” and the yard. Is that possible or will we just confuse him? We’d like to crate train him, but aren’t sure how to use the crate for this.
Answer: You should not have any trouble training him to use both the outdoors and a newspaper or puppy pad. I find newspaper to be infinitely less expensive than puppy pads, but the puppy pads can have little plastic holders that keep them in place, and that is useful too. You can, of course, use those holders with newspaper too. Newspaper isn’t backed with liquid proof plastic lining so I wouldn’t use newspaper on top of carpet, but on a hard surface you can wipe up with cleaner and a paper towel.
The key to potty training on multiple surfaces is to designate a command for the action of going potty. I like to say “Hurry up” in a very friendly, happy, encouraging voice. Put the puppy in the place where he is to eliminate (such as the puppy pad or the grass) and say the command (such as “hurry up” or “do your business” or “go potty” whatever you prefer). Use the command once or twice while the puppy is sniffing about. If the puppy attempts to leave the designated area (which is obviously more confined in the instance of pee-pad or newspaper use) say “No” firmly and using a deeper voice/tone than you do when praising or sounding encouraging or excited. After the admonition gently pick-up the wayward pup and return him to his designated potty place. When setting him down, repeat the command you’ve chosen to indicate toilet-time (i.e. “Hurry up”).
Potty training requires patience and diligence, but it is relatively easy to do, especially with a sweet, smart & eager breed of dog (like the Cockapoo). Watch your puppy closely. As soon as he squats down to eliminate (of either variety) repeat your chosen elimination command (“Hurry up!”) Wait until just as your pup is finishing up his business and then reward him very excitedly for his accomplishment. Use your command in the praise-phrase. “Oh good boy! What a clever puppy! Gooood ‘Hurry up’! Good little thing!” *Note: the reason I say to wait until your pup is almost finished going potty to praise him is because praising your pup may prompt him to stop what he is doing to come and see you. Eager-to-please puppies get very wiggly and excited when they are being praised and can easily interrupt their potty session to lick hands and wiggle.*
I begin training the puppies as soon as they can walk to use a heavy paper (thicker than newspaper) and at about 4 weeks I begin teaching them to use the paper and puppy pads. When they are old enough to go outside (around 4.5-5 weeks) if the weather is fair I begin helping them learn to go potty on the grass and in small gravel/pebbles. Potty training takes time and lots of consistency, but dogs will naturally try to avoid going potty where they sleep. For this reason I really strongly encourage you to use a crate-training method anytime that no one can be home with the dog and actually watching the dog at all times. I don’t encourage crate usage when people are home, though. (Unless its bedtime or naptime.) We crate when training a new puppy. I like to keep our crate door open and my dogs often go in there just to lay down and relax, or get alone time away from the kids. Everyone here knows that when a dog is in his crate they are not allowed to bother that dog. This makes the dog feel like the crate is his “den” and it is a desirable place. Also, it is important not to use the crate as a punishment because once your dog associates the crate with being in trouble; he will hate the crate and may start crying or barking when in the crate. You don’t want him making himself miserable any time he must stay in there for an extended period of time! **Isolating a dog as a “punishment”, when used properly and under the correct circumstances can be extremely effective, however the crate should not be used as the location for the isolation.**
During the day he can be in his crate where he will not be inclined to chew up anything while no one is watching and he won’t be inclined to potty all over the house (dogs will hold their potty much better when in a crate, they really hate going in their bed). Basically the crate prevents the dog from getting himself into trouble! Lots of things can make your puppy sick! Dogs that eat garbage or chew up plastic objects and swallow them can get very ill. This is especially dangerous if you have no idea what he ate or what could have happened because you were not there! You can put him in the crate (the bigger the crate, the better, but not such a large space (like a blocked off kitchen or bathroom) that he can really set himself back in potty training). On one half of the crate put in an old bath towel or a blanket that has been designated as his. Then cover half of the crate with newspaper (or a puppy pad). The half with the blanket or towel will be where he lays down; the half with the newspaper is where he can go potty if he absolutely needs to. This way we are still separating his bed from a potty area, in case he simply can’t hold “it” any longer. This is an important step because forcing an animal to eliminate in their den or sleeping space will teach the animal to override their natural instinct to avoid that, and you will lose a valuable trait! He doesn’t need food or water during long stays once he is an adult, but as a puppy he should have more frequent feedings. Do not “free feed” (leave the pup access to dishes of food or water to consume at will) during potty training so that you can schedule feeding/watering in order to better anticipate when he needs to eliminate. If he makes a mistake and goes potty on his towel or blanket at least it will be absorbed and not splashed or smeared all over him. Also if he poops on the towel or blanket he may feel inclined to bury the poop with his bedding. So you have to check his bedding every day for surprises.
I hope that has helped a little! Having a dog is awesome and you’ll do fine, so long as you’re patient! 🙂 Potty training a dog is much easier than potty training a person and many parents already have that one down, pat! 🙂
**Crate size For a cockapoo (between 14-28 pounds): I recommend a dog crate that is about 35 inches wide, 22 inches deep, and 24 inches tall. That would easily accommodate two-to-three cockapoos comfortably. It would be fine to get a smaller crate, certainly, for a single dog, though this is the crate size I would personally own for a single dog. I will post photos of my crate empty and with two adults inside so you can get an idea of the size.**