Here is our schedule we follow for our Puppy K program. It is not perfect by any means and you may want to adjust things to fit your schedule and/or your puppy’s personality. But after training nearly hundreds of dogs, this is what we have found to make a happy pup and happy owner.
The basic format is:
Throughout the week, this stays the same but the time spent in each portion will change.
Before we start our official schedule we spend a lot of time bonding and just a little bit of crate time.
The first day we get the puppies, we spend an hour or so playing with them outside. This gives their bladders time to empty and have it all done outside the house. We also build a positive first connection with them and can start to see their personalities. Then we bring them inside and play with them for another 20ish minutes, holding, cuddling, and playing.
Then it is the first time for their crate. We use the Mid West Life Stages Crate with an adjustable wall. The key is for them to have enough room to turn around without enough room to go potty. If you don’t have a crate with an adjustable wall, try filling your crate with a box–just make sure it fits otherwise your puppy will find its way around the box or on top of the box! With having multiple puppies, we let them ease into it by puting them all in the same crate without the wall put in. Before putting them in, we put down a bowl of water for them to drink. (Make sure they go in their crate within 2 minutes of drinking the water, otherwise you will have an accident!) This first crate time, we only put them in there for 15 minutes. We want to build trust and for them to learn they will be taken out of the crate so we just put them in for a few minutes to get acquainted with it.
Then we take them out of the crate to go potty. When you get him out of the crate, avoid getting excited with him or talking to him. Once he goes to the bathroom then you can play and be fun. This is to help him see the crate a non-issue. You don’t want to “rescue” him from the crate by cooing and talking to him. We just pick up the puppies without saying anything and carry them directly to the grass. After they go potty we coo and say good job and all that.
Here are some details that might help!
Wake 6ish pick up pup out of crate, carry outside to potty location. Do not let pup walk out at this point. We don’t want any accidents on the way. When the pup goes say the same word every time. (I always say “potty potty”)
Inside play time. This freedom time is only in a place with hard floors. Carpet =grass. Grass= go potty! A gated kitchen area is great for this or if you have what I have, a big open room, you can do what I do. I play with the pup, but when I want to get breakfast on or do some computer I put the pup on a leash tied to the kitchen island or my chair. Initially, pup will pull and fuss on it, but soon if ignored for this behavior it will lay down and just take in the sights. This is good for the pup to realize that there are times when he gets your undivided attention and times when he gets to hang out with you while you are getting something done. They quickly pick up our body cues and become a great family member this way!
Take potty right before crating.
To help build up their bladder muscles, we give them water before putting them in their crate and also put in about a ½ cup of food in their crate about every other time we put them in their crate. This also helps them develop a positive association with the crate. They don’t always eat it all, and if there is still some in there, I pick it up and save it until I want to feed them again.
Nap and then repeat.
After dinner, we did not do crate time again until 9:30/10:00pm to help him get tired so he would sleep longer through the night. We would let him fall asleep outside of his crate for a few minutes but would them wake him up and engage with him. However, we continued to do potty breaks every 30-45 minutes. We would take them out again around 11/12. At the beginning of the week, your puppy will need an extra potty break around 2:30/3:00am. Near the end of the week, they should be able to sleep through the whole night.
Note- these potty trips at night should be all business and no play….pup goes right back in crate and you are back to bed.
The first day we do this process with taking them potty every 30 minutes, keeping them awake for an hour, which ends up being 3 potty breaks (one when you take them out, at 30 minute mark, and before putting them back in the crate).
The second day we expand the crate time to 45 minutes, keeping them awake for 1 hour to 1 ½ hours, depending on their energy level.
The third day we do crate time for 1 hour, keeping them awake for 1 ½ to 2 hours
By the fourth day and beyond we crate for 1-3 hours, play for 1-3 hours.
Here is an example schedule of one of our puppies named Stryker near the end of the week:
6:20am- Stryker wakes up and should be taken directly outside to go potty. The word we have been using with him is “potty.” He should go both pee and poop. If he gets distracted after peeing, we take him back inside and play for about 5 minutes and then go again. Repeat until he poops. Then play time.
6:50am- potty again
7:00am- breakfast time. He is eating about ¾ cup right now. He is eating about three times a day right now. He will eventually go down to once a day. Depending on whether or not you would like that to be at night or in the morning, taper down what you give him at the other times and give him more during the time you would like him to eat.
7:15- potty time. Play time after this as he will have some energy after eating and going potty.
8:00am- Crate time/nap time. He will most likely bark for the first few minutes of being put in the crate. To help make that a happy place, you can place a small biscuit in there for him to have.
8:30am- potty and then play time. Make sure not to get him if he is barking. If he is barking, wait until he quiets down for at least one minute before getting him. 9:30am-crate time/nap time
10:30- potty and then play time
Repeat throughout the day. Feeding again at 11:30 am. And again at 7:30pm.
After dinner, we did not do crate time again until 9:30/10:00pm to help him get tired so he would sleep longer through the night. We would let him fall asleep outside of his crate for a few minutes but would them wake him up and engage with him. However, we continued to do potty breaks every 30-45 minutes. At the beginning, he needed an extra potty break around 2:30/3:00am. Near the end of the week, he was able to sleep through the whole night.
A note about crate time: I recommend initially the crate should be in a laundry room or basement far away from earshot for both you and the pup. They can learn quickly that crate time is nap time if when he cries he is not attended to.
Pavlov’s dog! If you give attention when he cries….he will cry a lot because that gets him attention. Instead give him attention and then put him in his crate to rest. Puppies are like newborns. They need naps! These first few days of patterns sets great habits that make a great dog in a short time. Remember this strict regimen is only for a season. Once your Doodle gets it, he will have it for life. The goal is to have only a few accidents….. If there is more you are not doing something right 🙂 ….prevention is the key in my book. If the pup is out of the crate as a rule I always take him out every 45 minutes to go potty!
The bell is a useful tool also! You can tie a bell to the door. Every time you head out to go potty hit the bell softly with the pups paw and say potty potty. In no time that smart Doodle of yours will be hitting the bell himself to tell you he needs to go out!
I have received emails telling how by 18 weeks no crate was needed when they were home and the pup was sleeping on the bed at night. This is a result of a good foundation from day one!
Modify schedule- Ideally if you can take some time off work initially and be home with your pup that is great, if not you can modify my schedule a bit. Pup should not be left in the crate during the day more then 2- 3 hours. If you have to be gone longer I recommend you read How to Housebreak a Puppy in 7 days. In this case you would need to leave the pup in a mudroom or laundry room, not in the crate. Please remember that your pup is used to being with litter mates or people a lot and should not be left for long periods of time. There are also dog walking services available or dog daycare.