Sunday, April 12, 2015

Potty Training a Mini Aussie: Two Approaches & Dealing with Bad Weather

Here are my thoughts and experience with potty training. We are now potty training our second puppy and a lot has changed! We live in a different state (so different weather) and we are more advanced in our careers so we have less time and are more tied to a work schedule. 

With Indie, we worked less and were home more and lived in CA where the weather was always good so we were able to take him out all the time, even throughout the night, so he was potty trained by 4 months old. We never used pee pads and we used a crate system.

With Tulsi, our new girl, I am gone more for work, I am tired from work, and in Arkansas we have the most f*ed up weather ever so there have been floods, tornadoes, and snow/hail/ice to deal with. Sometimes, it was not possible to go outside.  For those reasons, I use a play pen & pee pad system with her which is explained in detail below. 

Basically, using pee pads will slow down the whole process (as opposed to just taking her outside constantly so that she never goes inside), but, it is what it is and that's life. I need the convenience of it right now.

Potty Training in General:
My experience so far is that potty training depends entirely on you, your work schedule, your vigilance, and your house set up. Do you live in a house with an easily accessible yard space? Or an apartment building where you'll have to walk down stairs/ and or have a slightly longer walk to a grassy area? Depending on these factors you will have to make adjustments to how long you can wait before taking them out.

Potty training is an exhausting process of carefully observing your puppy, trying to keep them on a regular feeding schedule, developing a sense of how long after they eat/drink they usually need to go, learning their signs of when they are about to go, and being ready to jump up and bring them outside at a moments notice for about 2-3 months.  I highly recommend having a pair of slide on shoes that are easy to put on and investing in a play pen (pictures below) so you always have a place you can put puppy that will keep them out of trouble and provide them a place to go in case they need to that is easier for you to clean up. It's such a lifesaver! Confinement is the KEY to effective potty training. Puppies should not have free roam of the house unless you are watching them every step of the way.

Potty Training: Week 1-2 (The most intensive weeks)
Typically, during the first and second weeks is when you need to be the most vigilant. They are most taxing, but the most important. Their bladders are so tiny and they need to go all the time. You pretty much want to take them out all the time, like every 30 to 45 minutes and about 5 minutes after they eat of drink, to ensure they always go potty outside and not inside. Sometimes they won't have to go, that's okay. Take them out let them sniff around for 5 minutes, then you can head back in. Sometimes, frustratingly, they will wait until they get back in and then suddenly have to go. So, it's back outside again even though you were just there and/or you got a little messy to clean up. It's a lot of work to just constantly take them ou, but it tips the odds that they will go only outside in your favor and will decrease the chances of accidents in the house. Let me tell you, it happens SO FAST. They will suddenly just pop a squat to pee and then it's too late and you have a messy to clean up. Never ever get mad about this. If they pee or poo in the house (which will probably happen at least once or twice even with extreme vigilance) it is your fault, not theirs, for not taking them out. Punishment or being mad will only worsen things. But hey, if they go in the house it happens, we are only humans, never beat yourself up or worry that they will never be potty trained -it happens to everyone. Puppies are just messy. Invest in some Resolve Pet carpet cleaner and get a big stack of paper towels on hand.

Some of the signs they need go are: they start really sniffing around and walking in circles, or you see them arching their back, you know they are looking for a place to go. They sniff the ground because they are looking for the scent of their pee which triggers them on where to go. Once you see them sniffing, run them outside.

My Potty Training Set up with dog #2: For dealing with Bad Weather & Busy Work Schedule

The set up I use involves: 
  1. a cheap blanket (in this case a synthetic walmart quilt $20 -I have two so I can rotate them as I need to wash them), 
  2. a cheap play pen I bought off of, 
  3. her crate with the door off of it and a towel over the top, 
  4. two or three pee pads to create a nice big area, 
  5. and her water dish. 
I set it up so that the pee pads are toward the back because if you put them toward the front and they poop on them, they will step in the poop as they excitedly come up to the front of the pen to greet you! Then you have poopy feet to clean -not fun.

I also will move this whole set up into my bedroom at night. With Indie, I simply locked him in his crate at night and every time he whined, I took him out to potty (about every 2-3 hours -like having a newborn!). It was tedious and tiring, but keeping them in a crate is best way to potty train because then they never learn to pee in the house. But, like I said, I need sleep too much right now to keep getting up at all hours to take Tulsi out. Plus, we have had horrendous weather here in Arkansas since I got her and often, it has been raining too hard or it's been too cold to take her out during the night. So we needed to pee pad train her regardless of my energy/time. Puppies just have to go too often and they can't hold it until the weather gets better, they have to go when they have to go. I tried so hard to keep vigilant throughout the night, but it was just too hard for me so I gave up and just try my best now and do it when I can and if she pees on the pee pads sometimes, so be it. I know it is slowing down her potty training, but I am willing to deal with that. With this set up, if I am not able to jump right up and take her out, she is able to go at least on pee pads and then shuffle back to her crate and I can get precious sleep for work.
Indie was pretty much potty trained by 4 months, meaning we could trust him 100% inside the house for the most part, but our lives were different then. We worked less and were home more and we were able to take him out all the time. With Tulsi it has been different. We both are more advanced in our careers now and we work about 50 hours per week, plus have a lit of events to attend for our college.

Indie was not big on eating or drinking a lot so he didn't have to go as often as our new puppy. Tulsi drinks a lot of water because her and Indie are always playing. I never used a single pee pad with Indie. In fact, he would just tear them up! He maybe had two or three pee accidents in the house and those were because I knew he needed to go out, but thought I could wait another 30 seconds; for example, while I did a quick brush on my hair (he wound up popping a squat and peeing on the bathroom mat as I was rushing to get ready -lesson learned there: when then have to go, get them out quickly don't try to look purdy, ha ha).  I began trusting him to be alone in the house completely around 5 months (which is almost unheard of for any puppy, but Indie was not and still is not a big pee-er or pooper and he had learned not to chew on our possessions).

With Tulsi I use this play pen set up a lot and especially while I'm at work so she can go to the bathroom in between when I am able to get home for lunch and then after work.  Most people lock their dogs in a crate so they HAVE to hold it, but I just can't do that to a dog. I am willing to accept a longer potty training period rather than lock a puppy up for 4 hours at a time. Their little bladders just can't handle this.

As you can see below, Indie was such a wild monkey that he would make a mess of the whole play pen. Tulsi is a gentle little soul and such a good girl -she's is a dream and is totally fine to be in her little home. Conversely, I had to get a special water dish for Indie that wouldn't tip or spill and he would shred any pee pad I put in his play pen, so I couldn't even use them with him. I just used the play pen as a place to dump him into on as needed basis and then would put him into the crate with the door shut for his naps and to potty train him.

Every dog is different. Every life and schedule is different -even within one household! Don't beat yourself up. Do your best and for gosh sake, stock up on carpet cleaner! :P


  1. I stumbled upon your blog last week and it's so wonderful. Our first mini-aussie will join our family next week. I know we are in for a lot but we are also so excited. Your thoughts and words of encouragement are so great and helpful. And your fur-babies are so adorable. Thanks again!

    1. Thank you so much! Can't wait for you to get your baby....send me an update when you do!

  2. Heya!

    Quick question for you as I am getting a Mini Aussie in early June. I think I prefer a girl as I have raised several girl dogs growing up and don't have experience with boys but I wanted to get your opinion on their personalities.

    Your dogs are amazing! Thanks for keeping this blog, its been helping me get my living space in order for my new little one!

    1. Hi Evan! I wish I could tell you with certainty, but I don't really have enough experience to know with definition a real difference between the males and the females. I say ask your breeder about this. I did and I have had two breeders now tell me that females are more aloof and males are more goofy and loving. When I first wanted an aussie, I was dead set on getting a female and my first breeder encouraged me to consider a male. Well, we wound up falling in love with Indie and he's been goofy, loving, and very dedicated to us. I still wanted my little girl and now I have a female. Tulsi is a great dog as well, except she doesn't listen as well as Indie did at her age and doesn't stay as close when we're outside. I'm not sure if she's that way because she's a female, or if it's because of "second dog syndrome," meaning...because we had a dog when she came to home to us, she naturally wants to follow him more than us. One of my good friends has two standard aussies, a male and female, and her experience was similar to mine with her female, but also her female was the second dog too. And I don't really know enough female Aussies to notice a trend.

      Anyways, I don't think you can go wrong here. If you want a female, I say get one! Especially if you've always had females and that's what you like. The best advice I can give you is to just stay open and to make a list of what YOU want in a dog and get a puppy that is like that, regardless of gender. You never know how each litter will play out! Good luck and glad the blog has helped you :)

  3. Awesome! thank you for getting back to me!

    Last question, does Indie mark like crazy? I'm renting my current place and don't want to take the chance of a puppy trying to make the place his.

    1. Do you mean marking inside a house? No, he does not do that. First, puppies don't really think like that -they just pee, and second, if you follow a potty training routine (utilizing a crate and/or play pen, plus vigilance) and schedule you will have no problems with that. Just know though, that puppies can be messy. Depending on your vigilance, they will probably go in the house at least once or twice. But the good news is that mini aussies are tiny, so their pee is tiny and very easy to clean up. Get some Resolve carpet cleaner and you will have no problem. The only cases where I've heard of a dog marking inside is when the owner has really yelled at the dog a lot and created a bad relationship. Always do positive training when you can!

      Outside though, Indie definitely likes to pee on things, that is very important to him (as with many male dogs). He started lifting his leg at 4 months old and being really interested in smells around 8 months old. Male dogs look for things sticking up and pee on that! I hope this helps you! I would not worry about marking :)

    2. One other thing, if you don't want your dog marking a low on walks, that's easy....don't let 'em. Just keep walking and pull them along! Sometimes I let Indie indulge on some peeing, sometimes I don't. I need to remind him who's boss every now and then ;)

  4. Awesome! thank you so much for your information again, this has been very helpful.
    The really good news is, I will probably be getting my girl. I am 3rd pick out of a little of 5 (2 girls, 3 boys) and the first pick wants a boy so I have a really good shot with this litter.

    Based on a lot of your blog posts, I have a perfect set up for my little one. Will keep you up to date when she gets here :).

    1. That's awesome Evan! We are in love with our little girl. She just gets more amazing every day. I will keep my fingers crossed for you! :)

  5. Hey! I stumbled across your blog and I have found it super helpful! I am getting a mini Aussie in late May. She is a blue Merle girl. I am so excited but slightly concerned that my dog I already have will not like her. My dog right now is a rescue mutt that is 90lbs. Do you have any advice on how to ease them into liking each other?

    1. She sounds like a cutie! I love blue merles :) I will tell you this, don't worry much since you're getting a puppy. Older dogs know it's a puppy and they will be annoyed by them, but it's not like bringing a grown up dog home. Like I said, your dog might be annoyed by the puppy (because, well, puppies are super annoying to older dogs) but he likely won't attack it or anything, just get up and move and maybe growl a little bit which is okay because the puppy needs to learn boundaries. What I suggest is having a baby gate set up in your house before the new puppy comes home. That way, when you bring baby girl home you can whisk her inside and plop her behind the gate and then you can set up the first meeting with your new dog where she is behind the baby gate and safe and just see how they are reacting to each other. Make sure you give your current dog lots of treats so he associates the puppy with treats.

      Is there a reason you think your dog will not like the new puppy? Like does he not get along with dogs already? Or are you just generally worried?

  6. Hello! I got a Blue Merle Mini Aussie a couple of months ago, and this is the first blog I've come across by someone also with a mini, so thank you first of all. That said, I've got a situation with my boy, Cash, that I'm really at a loss about. He's about 5 months old now, and I would consider him 90% housetrained. The ONLY thing keeping him from being 100% is that he will sometimes pee in his crate. I'm fortunate that I only work about 20 minutes from home, so I come home every day at lunch to let him out. On days I can't, I get a dog walker to let him out for potty and a short walk. I should mention he is crated while I'm at work as I'm a one-person household.

    But he will sometimes frequently, sometimes infrequently, pee in his crate between when I leave and come home for lunch, AND between my return to the office and coming home at the end of the day. He doesn't have a problem when I'm available. I've tried putting a divider in the crate (which didn't stop him at all and only made cleanup really difficult. Each time, I clean it with an enzyme cleaner on the Primo pad to try and eliminate any urine smell. I've tried limiting his water, even giving him no water at all when I come home for lunch. I take him for long walks every day I can, barring weather or the like. I've even made a point of taking him out twice at lunch, once when I arrive home and once again before I leave. No difference whatsoever. We've been to the vet to ensure no health issues are interfering. Scolding won't work when it's been hours since it happened, and I'm trying to be patient but I really feel we should have moved past this by now, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't growing frustrated. I'm starting to feel like this will never end.

    He's super smart and has learned everything else really quickly, so I just don't understand why he's doing this. I know for a fact he can hold it, so it's not a bladder size issue. My concern is that he will get comfortable peeing in there and no longer see it as a problem.

    To be honest, he is by far the hardest dog I've ever had to housetrain. I've had mostly large dogs in the past, and I understand they have a larger bladder, but I still think at his age he should be able to hold it for the 4 hours or so he's crated.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I don't really know what else to do and while I love him with all my heart but I don't think I can deal with him just never being completely housebroken. Thank you so much in advance!

  7. So i has our 8 week girl,in a crate and woke up every couple hours like you . and she was doing good until we started letting her hang out in the kitchen with our boys to play . first she just would pee with no whineing or warning even,though we are still doing every 2 hours outside and after,feeding ect 4 months old,now. So we stopped giving her freedom,now were back to the crate all day and night except walks and playtime ectv.,which ia making her crazy ..she can not be part of the family cruising around the house at this point since ahe will,just pee on the 100 yr old,hardwoods with no warning .. This is not fun for any of us ..,plus she used the bells at 8 weeks and now doesnt reslly try to get to the door or anything ? Plus how can we tire her out.,

  8. So i has our 8 week girl,in a crate and woke up every couple hours like you . and she was doing good until we started letting her hang out in the kitchen with our boys to play . first she just would pee with no whineing or warning even,though we are still doing every 2 hours outside and after,feeding ect 4 months old,now. So we stopped giving her freedom,now were back to the crate all day and night except walks and playtime ectv.,which ia making her crazy ..she can not be part of the family cruising around the house at this point since ahe will,just pee on the 100 yr old,hardwoods with no warning .. This is not fun for any of us ..,plus she used the bells at 8 weeks and now doesnt reslly try to get to the door or anything ? Plus how can we tire her out.,

  9. I know this is an old post, but it is so relevant to my life right now. I started reading your blog when my fiance and I adopted our first dog, a mini Aussie we named Ty. His potty training experience sounds exactly like Indie's! We recently rescued a husky/shepherd mix who we named Mera, and her personality sounds so much like your Tulsi! We're in a similar situation work-wise so we will try a similar setup for her. Wish us luck!

  10. We just inherited a 6 week old Aussie in November. Potty training has been a nightmare. I have Chihuahuas and have trained a lab and German Shepherd. But she is so much different! She's 5 months and i thought we were getting somewhere, but I just started back to work and we have regressed, so I guess we are starting over! She does so well and then as soon as I step into the kitchen, she'll go. And then she just has accident after accident at night before we go to bed. Sometimes I wonder if she's doing it because I made her mad. Lol. She's really a great dog. I definitely am ready for this potty training adventure to be over! Thanks for your post. I'm definitely trying your set up. And, btw, I'm in Arkansas, and we definitely have weather with an attitude!

  11. Hi, I'm getting my tan point Blue Merle, mini, Sir Icarus Oakley McSplotchy-Pants in mid August. I livery in Michiganew so he'll be 6-7 months old depending on when we get our nasty weather. I'll be getting him a coat and boots because our temperatures can get below 0, but even in the 20'summer and 30'see it can get bitter, on days when it's particularly bitter I want him to potty on a pad in the house... Do you have any tips on having a boy potty on a pad and not having potty confusion to where he starts potty inside all thelse time? That is my biggest fear is if we have really low Temps and he potties inside a couple times he'LL think it's okay to do ithe every time.