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  • Housebreaking

    Posted by Jen on March 13, 2021 at 10:21 AM

    So after spending my life with adult only rescues and fosters, I finally got a cute little mini Goldendoodle puppy, thinking “After all of those adult dogs with behavior issues, this should be a breeze.” OMG.

    Bella is eight weeks old – I’ve had her with me for one week. I’m not making nearly the progress I was hoping to have made in the first week. Maybe I was overly confident. Working on crate training and sticking to it, but she’s still screaming and protesting. (Even with empty bladder and bully stick, etc inside crate) Nighttime is better. I set alarm every 3 hours (pushed it to 3.5 last night, with success)

    I would appreciate hearing what has worked for others. I’m home all day so if anything, I’m taking her out too frequently? (Sometimes every 15 minutes if I’m sure she needs to go and she hasn’t.) I’ve also recently made the outdoor area even smaller to try to reduce the distraction of leaves, sticks, flies, the sky……OY)

    She’s already showing beginning signs of “catch me if you can” so I’m also interested in any thoughts about leash in house. I believe Robert recommends this. But at her young age, I do not want too much pulling sensation or actual corrections – should I just use a harness and transition to collar later?

    Alin replied 3 years ago 4 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • Riggan

    March 15, 2021 at 6:46 PM

    What a cutie! It can be a shock getting your first puppy. Rescue dogs come with issues, some which can be resolved and some which can’t, but that does not necessarily mean they are “harder” or “easier” than puppies. The issues are just different! Hold onto your hat, because you have around 2 years of puppyhood and adolescence ahead of you, and there will certainly be times when you are ready to scream, pull your hair out, and run for the nearest asylum. But then again, there are plenty of times when your little angel will give you the most adoring looks, respond to commands you didn’t even realize she knew, or otherwise enthrall you with her charms. In those moments, you will briefly forget the other times (until she turns into devil dog again!). But in the end, when maturity comes, if you stay patient and consistent, you will have a phenomenal dog for many years to come.

    With regards to the crate, you just have to stick with it. You have only had her a week, and just think of the enormous transition she has been through! Cardinal rule: NEVER give her attention (positive or negative) when she is crying and throwing a tantrum. Wait until she is quiet before noticing her or letting her out. Check the Lessons section for Robert’s videos on crate training.

    For the “catch me if you can,” I suggest 2 things. First, I almost always have a light, short line on pups in the house. Then I can quickly stop and redirect any unwanted behavior. Next, try turning the “catch me if you can” game around – YOU run from HER! Start out letting her quickly catch you. Then lots of praise, play, whatever turns her on. Then run away again. Gradually run further and include more evasive maneuvers. It should be a game she absolutely loves. This is starting to pattern a reliable recall into her little brain (although you will swear it didn’t work when she reaches adolescence, but there will come a day when all the training suddenly returns and you will be astonished!). Play this game LOTS, and NEVER play it the other way around. This is why dragging a leash is so useful. It puts you in control.

    Good luck, and I can’t wait to see more pictures as she grows!

  • Jen

    March 16, 2021 at 7:58 AM

    Hi Riggan,

    Thank you for the words of inspiration and motivation! I was working with a dog at one of our local shelters about a year ago when I heard another volunteer scream. I ran outside to see that two dogs had escaped and were running down the long driveway right toward the busy highway with screaming volunteer chasing them! I instinctively screamed “puppppppies” and ran in the opposite direction. They turned and chased me right into a storage facility. How have I forgotten that simple but genius maneuver! I swear I have puppy brain. Nothing makes sense to me and I swear I am doing everything wrong, even though I’m sure I’m not.

    Can you talk a little about the experience with dragging a leash? I have started to do that but she’s so fast and so when I want to stop, redirect I need to step on the leash and it’s sometimes a pretty significant correction. I noticed this morning her thrashing a bit at the end of it. Do I need to be worried about that? Maybe my leash is too long? I’m using a 15’, probably too long for this work? I was worried a shorter one would make it too obvious the “corrections” are coming from me?

    Thank you again🙏 Jen


    March 16, 2021 at 9:43 AM

    Hey Jen,

    I think Robert has a couple excellent videos on this.

    Such a cute puppy!! In the home, you can try with a 3′ or 6′ leash – preferably without a loop at the end so it doesn’t get caught on anything. I did this with my mini-irish doodle and she didn’t notice the leash.

    After initially exposing your puppy to this, you can start conditioning her to the leash in the house at meal times. Feed her kibble, and reward her for walking beside you.

    1. recall with her name

    2. dog recalls

    3. “Yes!”

    4. reward

    Try this several times to see if she is able to learn the behavior/command. Then you can layer leash pressure. Let your puppy get a short distance from you

    1. apply light leash pressure – at neck level

    2. recall with her name

    3. dog recalls

    4. “Yes!”

    5. reward

    When you think she’s learned the behavior/command, you can transition to doing this outside with the 15′ leash in a safe, low-distraction environment.

    Hope this helps!

  • Jen

    March 18, 2021 at 6:00 PM

    Thank you for the reply, Jason. I hope I’m not ruining Bella for future leash pressure work, but she is pulling a lot. I don’t see a way around it. I need the leash on her outside etc or she’ll run everywhere and eat dirt, sticks, etc. (inside too for obvious reasons) and she runs like a bat out of hell to the end of the leash and will flip herself, etc. I keep waiting for her to figure it out.

    • Alin

      March 19, 2021 at 8:18 AM


      I’m assuming you’ve watched all of Robert’s leash lessons here on the site?

      Also don’t forget that you can submit any question to Robert for him to answer in this bi-weekly Member AMA.

      The form can be found at the bottom of this page –

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