How to Build a Simple Puppy Training Schedule
Puppies are some of my favorite beings on earth! I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I just love puppies! All puppies, the small breeds, the large breeds and the medium sized breeds. Young puppies just have a vest for life that I can appreciate!
But, puppies need a puppy training schedule. They need a potty training schedule, they need a daily training schedule, and a weekly and monthly basic obedience training schedule.
If you do not devote time to your young puppy, before you know it your pup will be grown up into a poorly trained and under socialized adult dog. And, as a trainer, let me be the first to tell you that it is a lot more difficult to train and socialize an adult dog than it is a puppy.
Puppies are Easy
Puppies are typically easy to train and socialize because they are blank slates. That is not to say that it is not going to take time and effort; it is! But raising a puppy teaching basic obedience and socialization in a positive manner can often be easier than trying to break the bad habits an adult dog has developed.
Again, puppies aren’t EASY in the concept of work and time your dog’s behaviors are going to take work. But starting now is much better than starting later.
Honestly it is easier to take an adult dog from a shelter and put it in a totally new environment and break bad behaviors than it is for most original dog owners to break bad behaviors that they have created. That is because habits will form with both dog and owner, and if those are bad habits, then it takes 2 of them to change it! This can be difficult for both, whereas as a dog trainer and new adopter, it is easier for me to break those habits because many of them are not dependent on me.
So do me, and yourself a favor and begin training your puppy as soon as he crosses your threshold or on the way home! Start strong and get excited.
This is a great potential relationship and bond that you will have for over the next decade. And, I have said it before, but I will say it again… any quality relationship takes time and effort!
I see too many puppy owners who brought their puppies home, never found time for them raising them or potty training them or socializing them who are horrified when the puppy’s behavior grows out of control. I meet a lot of overwhelmed dog owners and untrained, out of control adult dogs! If you are bringing or have brought that puppy home make sure that you are willing to devote the time and effort it takes.
Potty Training Schedule
First be sure to avoid corrections and intimidation! It doesn’t work. So don’t rub his nose in any potty training accident you find.
Be sure to avoid pain, even if your puppy has an accident or makes what seems like a bad decision. Remember how long it takes to potty train a child? Bad habits are sometimes misconceptions on our part as the human in the equation.
I remember being at work (at a clinic as a veterinary technician) with a fairly new co-worker who had gotten a puppy a few months earlier. She mentioned that the puppy and some bad habits and was having potty training accidents in the house.
Let me tell you everyone thinks they can give pet health advice, potty training advice and basic obedience advice (just like everyone thinks they can sing).
A former co-worker chimed in and told my friend to shoot the puppy with a BB gun. I will admit, I am fairly quiet about being a dog trainer when I am at work or out in public. I think that my work and knowledge speaks for itself and stands alone. But I couldn’t let this particular piece of horrible advice go unnoticed!
“Don’t shoot your puppy with a BB gun!” This will only teach your puppy that you are unfair, unkind, and untrustworthy. She will simply learn to never go potty in front of you.” “It won’t even necessarily fix your problem.”
The bad advice giver swore that her young pups quickly learned her training routine and didn’t have accidents again. She swore with a little work it was full proof.
I promised her with some monitoring, a loose leash and some actual work, (and a health check) she would see a difference.
Ironically her puppy was diagnosed with a recessed vulva which was causing horrific bacterial infections in her bladder. She literally couldn’t help it. Can you imagine how sad it would have been to shoot this young pup?
After some antibiotics, she learned that teaching your dog and training is always better than corrections.
Now lets talk about how to set your puppy up and avoid bad habits, so that you can have trustworthy potty trained adult dog. Jump on the potty train! Potty training can feel daunting but it doesn’t have to! There are some basics to follow when it comes to your puppy’s potty training schedule for your new training program.
First Thing in the Morning
He is going to need to go potty first thing in the morning. He isn’t going to be able to hold it long, so I suggest keeping him somewhere close to you so that you have quick access. I recommend a crate at night. I personally prefer keeping my puppy in a crate next to my bed.
Crates are essential for good potty training, and keeping your puppy safe for more on that click here.
I like keeping the puppy next to my side of the bed so that I can hear him if he becomes restless in the night and I can get him outside before he soils his crate. I sleep fairly lightly, so I hear when my puppies becoming restless or when he has woken and I know I have limited time to get him outside. If he wasn’t next to my bed, I would have a much more difficult time hearing him and being able to prevent a crate accident. And, no one likes to clean up a dirty crate which leads to a dirty puppy night after night.
Crates also keep puppies safe from eating, shredding, or ingesting things that are dangerous and might kill them. They also keep your special things from being ruined or shredded.
And, if you have a dog that gets dropped off at the groomer or the veterinary clinic; he will adjust better and panic less. Crates are also great when you travel!
Need help acclimating your dog to the crate or teaching crate games click on the highlighted links
Having trouble with your crate training? Click here
He is going to need to go outside and go potty after he eats or drinks. Many puppies process their meals and their drinking fairly quickly; anywhere from immediately to up to 20 minutes after eating and drinking. Make sure that you are going outside with him to ensure that he is going potty outside and not just playing (which many puppies prefer).
Remember how tiny your puppy is at this age. His bladder and his body are small. Processing what he takes in or filling that bladder doesn’t take long.
Every Two Hours
Most puppies need to go outside and pee or poop about every 2 hours. Remember his tiny bladder? He is going to need the ability to express it about every 2 hours or so.
The rule: the general rule is an hour for each month he is old, plus one. So, the longest you should leave an 8 week old puppy (2 months) is for 3 hours; tops. For more information on how long your puppy can wait both day and night, click here.
Also watch his water intake. The more water he drinks the more that bladder fills and will need to go outside.
Puppies develop schedules and it is critical that you learn your puppy’s potty schedule in order to successfully ride the potty train. Most puppies poop 3 times a day. I knew if and when my puppies didn’t poop that they would need to come and wait in their crate for 10 minutes or so before going back outside. Otherwise I open my house up for accidents.
And, I will mention again. It doesn’t matter if it is 20 below zero outside, 2 a.m., or raining cats and dogs… in order to be successful and know your puppy’s potty schedule you MUST go outside with him and watch him. When you know his schedule and what is normal for him, you are setting him up for success in your home. No one likes accidents in the house!
I do not suggest giving him treats for going potty, I do recommend quietly praising them. If you reward him for going potty in front of you, by giving him treats; he is more likely to come back in the house and have accidents in order to get his reward. He doesn’t understand he is getting rewarded for going potty OUTSIDE. So just keep it to quiet praise as he goes outside.
Last Thing At Night
I like to have a good play session about 10 to 20 minutes before I want my puppy to go to bed. Physical activity helps to move things through their system and will also aid them in being tired when you are ready to get to sleep!
Most puppies can go longer at night (due to the lack of exercise and lack of access to water).
*Hint: Keep your puppy on a leash with you in the house or in a small area to help you potty train. The more restricted his area, the less likely he is to have an accident. And, if he is with you, you will notice if he gets restless or tries to sneak off to another room. I understand that this takes a whole new level of time and maintenance… but it is worth it. Read this
Your Puppy’s Daily Schedule
Almost everything in life goes better when it is on a normal schedule.
Do your best to wake up in the morning at the same time each day. This will help your puppy to acclimate to your specific schedule. Likewise do your best to go to bed at about the same time each night. This is good for your circadian clock and rhythm and it is best for your puppy’s success.
I would also like you to set up a basic obedience with positive reinforcement schedule for your puppy! Remember you are going to be playing the game of rewarding, clicking and treating good behavior.
It is crucial that you teach your puppy about clicker and/or marker training. When he does something right you should be marking that behavior and rewarding good behavior. If you are only communicating with your dog when he does something wrong you are missing 90% of the equation. How can you communicate what you like and what you want when you don’t have a marker or a way to effectively communicate with another species?
Trainers at Sea World, and those working with large and exotic species from around the world use clicker, whistle or marker training. Try using coercion or corrections on a chicken! However, you can train a chicken with a well timed marker!
To find out more about marker or clicker training click here.
Trust me you are going to LOVE marker training once you get started! It is the most fun and rewarding way to train you dog! Science has proven that it is the best for learning and retention of information.
I recommend setting aside time for at least 5, 5 minute training sessions per day with your new dog for your training program.
Think about setting time aside:
First thing in the morning
During your dog’s breakfast
When you get home
During your dog’s dinner
Or if your schedule is more flexible, you can come up with your own obedience training and positive reinforcement schedule.
Start by rewarding your puppy for showing basic behaviors like “sit”, “down”, and waiting patiently which will lead to “stay”. Begin by having your puppy on leash inside to control his behaviors. This will also help you as you add distractions, like bouncing a ball or squeaking a toy, while inside the home.
The most important command you can teach a puppy is coming when called. And the nice thing about puppies, especially a young pup, is that they are like Velcro and will follow you around the house and even outside. Reward this good behavior; teach your puppy as he grows that you desire this behavior and that this behavior is rewarding as your puppy grows and he will continue coming to you when he is an adult dog! Teaching your puppy as your puppy grows and rewarding good behaviors is crucial to him maintaining good behaviors and becoming a good pet as an adult.
Click here to see how teaching your puppy or adult dog to come, goes wrong and why so many people have a problem with this simple command.
As a dog trainer, I recommend also getting eye contact and focus on command or cue this will come in handy when you want him to leave distractions and focus on you and your training.
I also start leash training and loose leash walking while in the house to limit distractions before taking my puppy outside to train. Loose leash walking is one of the most important things you will teach your puppy, especially if you expect to walk him on leash.
Once your puppy is doing well and listening to your commands and doing well with basic obedience training maintaining his commands and listening 90 % of the time you can begin to move outside and add distractions. But remember, depending on time and weather you can still train inside!
*Important Note: if you have had a bad day at work, are angry, or exhausted; it is okay to skip a session or two of your dog’s training. It is worse to train when you are in a bad mood, than it is to skip a session! Training should be fun! If you are easily frustrated or angered it won’t be fun, it will actually be distasteful and confusing for your dog; just skip it!
Your Puppy’s Weekly Schedule
Weekly you should set both obedience training goals and socialization goals for you and your new dog or puppy for your training program.
In the beginning, pick at least 3 days a week for socialization when you can take your puppy out and safely let him meet new people and possibly safe new dogs.
Be very careful during his puppy fear stages that you do not overwhelm him or force him to socialize in situations or with people or other dogs that you do not know or can’t control. His puppy fear stages are from weeks 7-9, 4-6 months, 8-9 months, 12 months, and 14 to 18 months. These times can be critical to raising a social puppy and ultimately a good dog. Read more about puppy fear periods here Take them seriously and set your puppy training schedule around them to be safe. It is a lot more difficult to try and fix a horrifyingly bad experience than it is to avoid them all together.
You wouldn’t expect your toddler to get over his fears or face his fears. Instead, we work on educating our children and teaching them confidence.
Use Safe People and Safe Dogs
When I say “safe” I mean people that you know and trust and dogs that you know and trust. During these fear periods, especially, is not the time to be trusting people and dogs that you don’t know. People do dumb things and can scare puppies or dogs without even meaning to or by inadvertent accident!
And, some dogs are just aggressive or have short tempers. Let us face the fact that puppies can be irritating and lack impulse control and dog to dog social skills. Some adult dogs, just hate puppies. But some adult dogs love young pups. So be careful, always! And, remember to praise and reward good behavior while socializing.
As you are setting up your puppy training schedule keep these things in mind when it comes to puppy socialization.
Some dog trainers, doggy day cares, and/or boarding facilities can help you find safe adult dogs that love puppies or puppies with similar play styles. Introductions are crucial, so these facilities can help facilitate safe introductions and interactions.
Avoid dog parks. Dog parks simply aren’t safe places anymore to socialize. Too many dog owners are preoccupied with distractions like social media and games. They take their dogs to dog parks to socialize and never look back up at their dog. These periods of time and ignorance among dog owners can be dangerous.
But also be careful. Not all doggy day cares, dog trainers, or boarding facilities are created equal. I like being around for my puppy’s first few social experiences (during or not during their fear periods of time). Beyond that I often recommend finding facilities that have cameras that you can log into and watch; that way you can witness your pet playing appropriately and see how long of periods of time the dogs are playing together. Also be sure that there are some breaks for nap time. Dogs are like some humans, when they are over tired, they often get cranky.
As your puppy becomes more socially confident and over all social; you can begin adding new things to your weekly schedule. I often used to sit on benches at local grocery stores so that my puppy would get used to a bustling environment and lots of noises; this way he could learn to more easily ignore distractions during training.
Basic Obedience Training Weekly Goals
As your young pup develops, set weekly training goals. His first week at home may simply be to teach him sit or down and reward these good behaviors as they happen.
As he ages make your training goals more advanced and add more distractions.
Don’t move too quickly, as obedience training takes time, but make sure you don’t get stuck in one place or aren’t advancing in your training goals.
Sitting at home for his dinner is not good enough when he is 5 months old. He should be able to sit and listen in multiple environments.
His loose leash walking should also get better and more advanced with practice.
If you are struggling, look for the help of a good trainer or a good training program.
As you move through your first few weeks of training, be prepared to set monthly goals for your puppy during training.
Make sure that they are realistic for your puppy. Again, don’t push your puppy too fast or too hard when he is not ready; but don’t get stale with your training. There are sooooo many things you can do with your dog: Agility, Dock Diving, Lure Coursing, Barn Hunt, Obedience Competitions, Rally Obedience. The list is pretty endless and if your puppy training social and obedience schedule is done correctly; the sky is the limit for the relationship you will build with your puppy!
Remember to still utilize his crate on occasion, even if he is fully crate trained. You will both thank me later.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.