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QUESTION: Hi Patti,

I just recently got a little yorkie puppy. He is alone for about 9 hours during the day so I have created a safe place in the laundry room with his toys, puddle pads, crate and food and water.  Just want to make sure this isn't going to hurt my housebreaking.  Should I not give him his food while there?  I think he needs the water.  He's only 8 weeks!  Any tips would be greatly appreciated.  I don't want to do him wrong!

Thanks,
Jacquie

ANSWER:
Hi Jacquie,

The rule of thumb for how long to crate a puppy is: it's age in months, plus one. So, your two month old puppy shouldn't be crated during the day for more than three hours (or less!). Overnight puppies sleep, so he probably can be crated longer than the standard 3 hours. Crate training a young puppy who can't yet control his bladder or bowels is setting him up for house training accidents in the crate, and that will counteract using the crate as a house training tool. A crate is not a place to be soiled in! Rather than crating your puppy for such a long period of time during the day, confine him to part of a room with child-gates, or use an indoor puppy pen, such as this one:

http://thespiritdog.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/large81778kvvet_puppy_pen.jpg

Whether you confine your puppy to a room, or use a pen, paper the entire confinement area with a thick layer of newspaper, so cleanups will be easier. Your puppy has no idea what "puppy pads" are for, and if they get used, it's literately a case of hit or miss. For now, use the crate for short periods when you're at home but can't be supervising him, and during the over night.
It's best to put the crate next to your bed so that you can hear him if he gets restless and needs to go outside.  This also gives you the chance to work with him to learn how to be quiet while in his crate. Besides, putting him in another room over night is just more time that your puppy is alone, and he's got far too much of that already.

Nine hours each day (or more!) is FAR TO LONG for an 8 week old puppy to be alone. I am hoping you are able to get home at some point during the day to take him outside. Besides the chance to get outside, and work on leash walking, etc. your puppy needs your company. Dogs are social animals that need human contact. Puppies deprived of proper socialization can be harder to train, and can develop nasty habits ranging from being destructive, to nonstop barking, to even self-mutilation. If you can't make it home during the day, your puppy needs you to provide "doggie daycare" (call local boarding kennels or your vet's office to see where doggie daycare is available in your area), or have a friend, relative, or neighbor take him out at some point during the day.

Being alone for so many hours during the day is going to extend the amount of time it will take to house train your puppy. Crating or containing a puppy is only part of the house training process. Your puppy needs to be given the opportunities to go to the bathroom outside, and praised every time he does it! Every time he soils in the house, it's a little bit of a setback in the training process. THIS is the time to be teaching him that "going" anywhere in your home is unacceptable.  Puppy pads confuse many pups. To a puppy, going to the bathroom behind your couch is the same as relieving himself on a pad. Inside is inside, to him.

House training is work for the human half of this partnership. You must be persistent and consistent for your puppy to learn what's expected of him. There isn't a substitute for you being present during the training period. Before the age of 4 months, puppies have very little bowel or bladder control, so accidents are guaranteed. How diligent YOU are in preventing accidents in your home, will determine how long the training process will be. You can't punish your puppy for accidents, when it was your job to get him outside on time. Be sure to use an enzymatic cleaner such as Nature's Miracle or Simple Solution to clean accidents. Your puppy can smell where he's gone to the bathroom in your home, and it will encourage him to soil again in the area.

Read more about house training here:

http://breedersclub.net/html/articles/articles_details.php?Tips-on-Effective-Pup

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/housetraining_puppies.html

An eight week old puppy needs to be fed three to four times a day. Leaving food in your puppy's containment area can mean that he may gobble all of his food down immediately, and be hungry later in the day. Smaller meals are easier to digest for a puppy, and his energy levels won’t peak and fall so much with the frequent meals. At around five or six months you may start feeding him twice a day. This is another reason why leaving him alone for 9 hours is too long a period of time.

Even as your puppy grows, and becomes house trained, 9 hours (or longer) is simply too long a period of time to leave him each day. Frankly, this is something you needed to consider before getting a puppy. As I said before, I hope you're able to make it home for him during the day. You certainly go to the bathroom during a nine hour period of time, and it's inhumane to expect your dog not to have to "go" too.

Feel free to get back to me if I can be of further help.
-Patti


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Patti,

I really don't want to hurt my puppy. I'm trying to raise him the very best. This is why I contacted YOU for an opinion.  I hope you don't think I would be inhumane to him.  Of course I go to the bathroom during a 9 hour period and I don't expect him not to.  I don't leave him in a crate for 9 hours.  He's in a room that is papered wall to wall with puddle pads, his crate and a play blanket.   He doesn't pee on the blanket or in his crate.  He only pees or poops on the puddle pads.  I work at a dog friendly office and would love to take him with me but my vet says he has the possiblity of contracting diseases that he's not yet fully protected from.  She (Dr) says at 4 mo he should be fully protected. I would hope you could understand this delema.  I wouldn't want him to come down with parvo because I took him outside at the office, where all kinds of strays run.

With that said.  Thanks for your opinion but, I would rather him not contract a deadly disease than have accidents on the floor.

Answer

Hello again,

In your original message you didn't mention taking your puppy to work with you after he has completed his vaccine schedule. You only talked about being away from your home for nine hours.
I answer a lot of questions, and it's shocking how many people think it's acceptable to leave a puppy alone for 9 hours. I'm glad you're a more responsible pet owner than they are! That said, 9 hours is too long for a puppy to be left alone, even though it's only a temporary situation.

Until your puppy is ready to go out with you into the world, you can do a few things to keep him occupied and mentally stimulated during the day. Read more here:

http://voices.yahoo.com/keeping-dog-happy-while-work-7725434.html?cat=53

http://www.thek9coach.com/articles/keep-busy.php

http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-articles/enriching-you

Whenever you are able to take your puppy outside as needed and be around to supervise him, is when house training can officially begin.

Best of luck,
Patti  

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Patti

Expertise

To date, I've owned 7 dogs, all of which have lived into old age. Having cared for them in all stages of life, I feel I can offer sound advice to other pet owners, and people considering getting a dog. I am knowledgeable about the AKC (American Kennel Club) dog breeds, training and exercise, caring for sick and elderly pets, feeding, as well as many holistic treatments pets can benefit from. My only request is that you write me using standard English and punctuation.

Experience

My life experience in this field is more like "on the job training" rather than an actual degree in animal welfare. You may benefit from my experiences over the past 30 years. Aside from the dogs I've owned, I'm also involved in "breed rescue" and have fostered several dogs, all of which have been adopted to wonderful "forever homes". I find helping people who want a dog very rewarding.

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Real life experience, based on over 30 years of dog ownership.

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