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QUESTION: Hi, I have a quick question regarding crating.

I'm planning on training my Pug Puppy how to be potty trained by using the crate with him. I am however, unsure when I should put him in the crate during the day and for how long he should stay there. I also plan on putting him in there at night because I won't be able to keep an eye on him and not train him to chew anything or discourage any other unwanted behavior.

If you have any advice or suggestions for me, I'd appreciate it.


Hi Josh,

A rule of thumb for how long to crate a puppy is it's age in months plus one. With this rule in mind, generally a three month old puppy shouldn't be crated for more than four hours, tops. This rule of thumb isn't cast in stone, you may find your puppy either can or can't "hold it" this long. I should mention that even with an adult dog that's house trained there is a limit to how long it should be crated. No dog should be crated for more than 5-6 hours. The younger the puppy the more often it needs to go outside. This can be as often as every two hours, immediately after he wakes up, during and after playing, and after eating or drinking.

You didn't say how old your puppy is. Puppies under three months of age don't yet have bowel or bladder control, so it will need lots of supervision, meals on a schedule and frequent trips outside (what goes in at a certain time, comes out at a certain time). Around three months of age if your puppy seems to backslide in house training, and you find that he's urinating small amounts it's a territory "marking" problem, not a house training issue. Urine marking is a normal, instinctive dog behavior, mostly in males but also sometimes in females. The most effective thing you can do to help your dog resist urine marking inside your home is to have him neutered prior to him forming this habit. Once marking becomes a habit, it's harder to stop.

Crate training is great, it's a real help in house training because dogs have a "denning instinct", but it's not a place for house training accidents. The correct size crate doesn't give a dog room to lay comfortably and also have room to soil, your puppy would be laying his urine and feces. If you must leave your puppy alone for a longer period of time than he can "hold it", you'll need another method of containment for those longer time spans. Keep using the crate for containment when you're around and just can't be supervising your puppy, and for overnight. Alternate methods of containment are a small room, or part of a room (use child gates), or an indoor dog pen. Here are examples of indoor dog pens:

Since you'll be expecting accidents to occur in the alternate method of containment, lay a thick layer of newspaper down over the entire containment area, so clean ups will be easier.

The keys to house breaking are:
1. Preventing indoor accidents through confinement and close supervision.
2. Take the puppy outside on a frequent and regular schedule and reward him for eliminating where you want him to go.

Accidents are bound to happen, don't be mad at your puppy or punish him for it. Not only doesn't he know what he did was wrong and probably doesn't even remember soiling, but punishment can make it harder to train him. When accidents occur, clean up promptly with an enzymatic cleaner such as Nature's Miracle or Simple Solution. Dogs learn through praise and reward, not by scolding. Anytime your puppy does a behavior you want to encourage (such as peeing outside) lavishly praise him immediately after he's finished the behavior - in this case it's him eliminating outside. You can even give a small memorable treat (tiny bits of hotdog work great) to further emphasize how much you like what he just did. Don't wait until he's back inside the house to praise. The timing of praise/reward is important, puppies are easily distracted. If you praise him too soon, he may forget to finish until he's back in the house.

These sites has lots of good information on house breaking:

I hope I've been a help. Feel free to write back if you have additional questions.
Best of luck!


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

QUESTION: Hi Patti, you've been a great help. I do have a couple more questions though..

The Puppy that I'll be getting is a Pug. I looked around my city to find some from a reputable breeder or the Humane Society, but the only place I can find them is at a Pet Store. I realize it is a gamble buying Puppies at these places, but I intend to bring it to a Vet the next day to help minimize any risk. Also, the Pet Store has a 72 hour guarantee, that if the Vet feels it's not healthy I could return it and get a refund or exchange. The Puppy would be about 2 mths old. I feel that it's best to get one that young (as opposed to a 6mth old one), so I have a bigger window of opportunity to train it. How old can a Pug be until it becomes more difficult to train?

I did a bit of research online about training and heard about the clicker method. I bought a clicker and plan on using that to help train him, so after he goes outside and does his business, I'll click and then give him a treat/praise. What do you think should be the first thing that I should train him to know (other then potty training of course, that could take a while)? I'm thinking it's best to start with something simple like getting him to look at me when I call his name and then go from there.

Since positive reinforcement works better then negative reinforcement, how would I get rid of negative behaviour such as biting, or chewing on wires for example? I read online that if you sternly say 'NO!' and then ignore it, that works. If it doesn't and it happens again, you can pick him up by the scruff of the neck and give him a very gentle shake to establish yourself as the 'top dog'. Do you have any thoughts of what I read online, and have some suggestions of your own?

Just to make sure I understand, since the Puppy would be 2 mths old, I would keep him in the crate once a day for 3 hours, then again at night for about 7-8 hrs? At what point would I eliminate the crate at night and just keep him in there during the couple of hours in the day? Also, if I'm bringing him outside after he eats, before playing, after playing, and after sleeping, when would be the best time to put him in a crate? Would it be anytime right after he eats? Someone is always home during the day, so we won't be putting him in there to keep him out of the way for a couple hours.

I did read online that when I bring him outside for him to do his business, I shouldn't play with him so that in the future he knows that he's out there to do his business and to not play. Even if we don't play outside then, is there a danger of him not knowing why we're outside, since we'll be out there so often? I don't think I should expect him to do his business every time we're outside, correct? Should we just keep walking around outside until he goes and then come in the house?

Also, I read online that if he goes in the house, I should pick him up and carry him outside so he knows to go out there. My only concern about this is that I don't want urine marks all over the walls, and all over the kitchen since that's where the back door would be by. Do you have any experience with this? The final question I have about Potty Training would be what I would look for. If he does his business outside a couple of times and gets rewards, what clues or signals should I be looking for when we're inside that he has to be going again? The only clue that I know of, is him sniffing the ground with his tail up, but is there one that he would give to me, before he gets that far along?

I also have a Tabby Cat that is 2 1/2 yrs old, I like the Pug breed because it seems sociable and will get along well with it. Do you have any experience/knowledge on how Cats at that age respond to Puppies (preferably Pugs)? Also, if you have any suggestions on how to introduce them to each other the first couple of times I'd appreciate that too.

Thanks again for your help. I think I got a lot of information, it's just a bit of filling in the blanks at this point.

I'll be sure to give the websites a look as well.


ANSWER: Hello again Josh,

Don't rush into buying your puppy from a pet store. You're almost guaranteed to get a dog with future health problems even though you're doing the right thing by having him examined by a vet as soon as you get him. Many conditions simply won't show up until your dog has grown, and believe me, even if the health guarantee covers the health of your puppy into adulthood, you wouldn't give him up. Returned puppies get destroyed.

Any puppy you get from a pet store was born and bred at a "puppy mill" or a  disreputable breeder, even if your pet store denies this. The Humane Society International/Canada encourages people NOT to buy puppies from pet stores for this reason. Please read more here:

At a pet store, you're paying top dollar for a poorly bred dog. When you buy a puppy from a pet store you're supporting a horrible industry and the terrible practice of over breeding dogs as well as supporting the awful conditions these dogs live in! When you buy from a reputable breeder they can ensure you get a healthy puppy and provide support afterward too. Reputable breeders are knowledgeable about the breed they represent and can help with behavioral and physical issues that might come up later. Reputable breeders socialize their puppies from birth, and breed in good traits from dogs that have had genetic testing to ensure good healthy puppies. At a breeder you can meet your puppy's parents and know it's history. You can locate a Pug breeder in Ontario by contacting the Pug Club of Canada:

Other Pug Breeders in Ontario:

Or contact the Canadian Kennel Club's Pug Dog Club of Ontario: 519-247-3347

It is recommended that all Pugs used in breeding be tested for:
Hip Dysplasia
Luxating Patella
CERF Eye Examination (every 3 years)
Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE) - test for Necrotizing Meningoencephalitis

A reputable breeder should be able to show documentation that these tests were run. Here's more on what to look for in a responsible breeder:

A puppy is a commitment for a good 10-15 years (or hopefully longer!) as much as you want a dog, you shouldn't rush to get "a" dog. Rather, wait to get your perfect dog, who's going to live a long happy and healthy life.

A two month old pet store puppy such as the one you're considering only knows to soil in his crate, he's had no other option after all. He's going to be harder to house train with the crate method because of it. He also might have other behavioral issues stemming from not having enough human contact, and possibly being taken away from his mother and littermates too early, which would make training and socializing this puppy harder. The older the puppy, the more likely a chance of it having behavioral issues and being harder to train. The ideal age to get a puppy is 8-10 weeks of age. Of course your heart goes out to any puppy living in a pet store, but what you're buying is a puppy with a good chance of future problems. I can understand you wanting a dog, but I urge you to be patient, and select a dog without as many potential issues.

A dog of any breed will get along with a cat, if it's been socialized to cats from an early age. Pugs are no different. Your cat will also need to meet your puppy halfway, and at least learn to tolerate it, if it's not used to dogs. Sometimes tolerating is the best you can hope for. Here are directions of how to introduce a cat to a dog:

If you've never had a puppy before, the amount of time and training one requires could be a real eye opener, and time commitment you may not be ready for. So much so, that I don't recommend getting a puppy to anyone who's never owned a dog before. A puppy is a potential, and an adult dog is a known entity, meaning a puppy may or may not grow up to what you want it to be. When you adopt an adult dog you know what you're getting. There are Pug rescue groups you could adopt from. Most of the time rescue groups have adult dogs of different ages, and not puppies. Rescue groups evaluate dogs for temperament (including if they get along with cats), and match their adoptable dogs up to the adopters lifestyle to ensure a good match. Many times a rescue group will even take the dog back, if the adoption doesn't work out. Rescue dogs are usually trained to one degree or another, have been spayed or neutered, and had medical care if it was needed.
Here are a few Pug rescue groups in Ontario to consider:

When you're closer to actually getting your dog, is the time to dwell the details of training methods such as clicker or food motivation, etc., or the other very specific questions you've asked. (Both clicker or food motivation work, whichever you choose is your personal preference). A puppy is a living creature that's an individual. There's no way to try to anticipate what you'll encounter. For the here and now, what matters most is that you really take the time to select the right puppy or adult dog rather than what you're going to do once you get the dog.

I hope this helps!
Best of luck,

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


I decided not to go to the Pet Shop anymore, however my family is ready for a puppy. We are aware of the commitment involved are ready to get started.

I was able to find a reputable breeder online and will be visiting with them soon. I will be sure to look for what you mentioned in your response (documentation for health issues of pugs used in breeding).

If you could answer the rest of the questions I had in the last message, I'd appreciate it.


Hi Josh,

I wanted to add one thing to my last response to you. You've been reading up on training a puppy, but you also need to know how to select a puppy with the temperament you want. Breed descriptions are a generality, and though there are characteristics common to dogs within the specific breeds, within any breed there are a great variety of personalities. Here is some info on how to do a simple puppy a temperament test on puppies you're considering:

Best of luck,

Good to hear you've decided against the pet store puppy. In answer to your questions:

Along with the clicker use your voice, I think this will come naturally. Use a happy and encouraging higher pitched voice for praise, and a firmer lower pitched voice for discipline. From day one learning his name, and to come to you are important lessons. Don't let your puppy off the leash outside until he comes when called! Walking nicely on the leash (not pulling, or learning to walk at "heel"), learning to "sit" and "stay" and learning to "drop it" and leave it" on command are all important lessons. If your puppy learns nothing besides those commands, he'll be controllable and well behaved. Be patient, especially with very young puppies. These are all things to learn over it's first year, not a matter of weeks.

At around 4 months old, enrolling in a "puppy kindergarten" class is an excellent idea. You will learn how to lead, and your puppy will learn the basics of how to obey, as well being able to  socialize with other puppies and people. Trying to train a puppy if you've never done it before can be difficult, it's easier to get it right from the start, than to try to correct bad habits down the road. You'd be learning from an experienced dog trainer who can evaluate what you're doing so you'll see progress quicker, and that's much easier than reading about how to do it. Ask at your vet's office or a local boarding kennel for a recommendation of a puppy kindergarten in your area. Read more about obedience commands here:

You are right, dogs learn by positive reinforcement. For nipping, you can't just ignore it, and reprimands alone will probably not stop it. A puppy has to be trained out of biting. A young puppy doesn't know his bites hurt, so he must learn "bite inhibition", or how not to chomp down hard when he's playing. Read about teaching a puppy a puppy "No Bite!" here:

Establishing yourself as "the leader" isn't hard.
1. Just be consistent in your training. For example, if the rule is "no biting", don't allow occasional biting.
2. When your puppy starts to learn commands, make him "work" before getting whatever it is he wants. Before he eats, give a simple command he knows and then praise and put down how food bowl. Before you go out for a walk, give a simple command he knows and then praise and go for your walk. Requiring your puppy to work for everything he wants is a safe, positive, non-confrontational way to establish your leadership position.

Many people feed their puppy inside the crate. This helps the puppy feel that the crate is "his space", not a place to be feared. When he's done eating, remove the food bowl. The water bowl can be kept in a room, maybe a spot near the crate. More on crating:

You can crate your puppy more than once a day. The limit of time that the puppy should be crated at shouldn't be exceeded, but you can (and should) put him into his crate anytime you're at home and can't be supervising him. If you want to sit and read, that's okay! Just crate your puppy! Right from the start, you can crate your puppy over night. Give him a chance to go to the bathroom just before you go to bed. His body functions slow down at night, and he won't need to go to the bathroom as often. For a few weeks, he may need an extra trip outside in the wee-hours. Keeping your puppy active in the evening before you put him to bed will help ensure that he settles down and sleeps... he'll be tried! Read more about dealing with overnight crating here:

But if you find accidents are happening in the crate over night, switch to one of the alternative methods of confining your puppy, that I've already discussed. As your puppy gets a little older he'll have better control overnight.

It's good that someone is always home during the day, but a puppy has to learn to be be alone too. Before the puppy is to be left alone, do the following:

Exercise the puppy for ten minutes.
Follow playtime with a two-minute training session of commands and praise.
Leave a couple of puppy-safe chew toys in the crate or containment area.
Leave him in a dimly lit room and have a radio playing soothing music.

At first leave the puppy home alone for short periods, increasing the time as he gets older. Read more about leaving a puppy home alone, and to be calm:

At least at first, your puppy will probably want to play when you take him outside for a walk. He's a puppy after all. He will learn that going outside is for eliminating -in time. After he goes to the bathroom, then you can play with him. He'll learn that the fun happens after he does his business.
When inside, the signals your puppy is needing to go to the bathroom can be any of these: restlessness, circling, whimpering, sniffing floors or furniture, squatting or a sudden trot towards a quiet corner or another room. Keeping your puppy on a schedule of trips outside will really cut down on accidents in the house, but (at least in the first few weeks) expect accidents to happen. Remember, if your puppy doesn't do all that he needs to do when you take him outside, bring him back inside and put him in his crate or containment area for about 20 minutes, then repeat the process.

You will learn how to "read" your puppy and you will learn his body's schedule of when he usually needs to "go". Times to go outside are usually: as soon as he wakes up in the morning, within 15 minutes after eating, drinking or chewing on chew toys, and after active play. It's much better to be cautious and go outside often, than to have too few trips outside. The more often your puppy eliminates indoors, the stronger the habit of eliminating indoors becomes. As your puppy gets older you'll see improvement, he'll need to go outside less often.

At least in the beginning, you might find it helpful to make a chart, to keep track of when your puppy goes to the bathroom. In the first two columns of the worksheet, record the date and time your puppy goes to the bathroom. In the third column, write "accident" if the dog had an accident in the house, or "success" if your dog went to the bathroom outside. In the fourth column, enter the letter "U" if your dog urinates, "D" if he defecates, "B" if your dog did both, or "N" if you took your puppy outside and nothing happened. In the fifth column, write what your puppy was doing immediately before elimination: sleeping, napping, eating, playing, etc. You can also write down any behavior indicators so that you can recognize your puppy's signals for communicating that he needs to go to the bathroom. In a few days you'll have a good idea of when your puppy needs to go to the bathroom. In a few weeks you'd no longer need to keep a worksheet.

I understand your concern of having your puppy urinate on the walls or all over the kitchen as you carry him outside. I've never had this happen, but if you're concerned keep a towel handy, and put it under your puppy as you carry him outside. A puppy the size of a Pug won't make huge noticeable puddles, like a larger breed might. This is one of the reasons why small dogs can be harder to house train, you simply aren't "catching them in the act" because their accidents are such a small amount.

As much as you try to prepare for all the situations you think you'll encounter with a new puppy, you simply can't. It's a learning experience as much for you as it is for your puppy. A puppy is random, untrained, and somewhat unpredictable - at least at first. Mostly, a puppy needs you to be there for it, which is something you're willing to commit to, so don't worry! You both will learn what to expect from each other as time goes on. As things crop up, you can always write me. Just relax and enjoy having a puppy!

I hope I've been a help.
Good luck!



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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.


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.

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

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