I’ve written a lot of blog posts about puppies, but I’ve never posted about a typical day for a puppy who lives with me, so that’s what we’re going to look at today. There are four puppies here right now, and one will be with me permanently, so it’s a good time to cover what a day might look like for a puppy.
When My Pup Comes Home … Waking Up and Early Morning
We’ll start with waking up. My new puppy sleeps in a crate by my bed. The puppy can see and hear me throughout the night. I can watch and hear them as well. My face is near theirs so they can feel my breath and not be worried. I’ve got all the details on this in my post “All About Dogs Sleeping in the Bedroom”.
In the morning, puppy waits in the crate while the other dogs go outside. Now it’s the puppy’s turn for my full attention to morning potty routines. When Crate Games foundations are in place my hand on the crate door = sit for the puppy, then it’s door open, leash on, and I carry the puppy outdoors to the established potty spot on leash. Our morning begins!
One thing I set the stage for early on is “Don’t Wake Da Mamma” and recently covered this in a podcast, so check out Episode 26: Pro Dog Training Tips to Get Your Puppy to Sleep All Night.
After our potty ritual, we spend a few minutes of playing tug or any one of my games outlined in my book Ruff Love or my Recallers, Home School the Dog, Handling360 or Agility Nation online programs that are age-appropriate, and then puppy goes into an ex-pen near me during my breakfast time. If I am not fully supervising my puppy, I will use the ex-pen for safety.
I have more than one ex-pen and am strategic about placement; this is not about isolation, it’s about setting my puppy up for success and keeping puppy safe and out of trouble when I cannot directly supervise. Below is the set up while we have Momentum’s four puppies growing up (and they are growing quickly, one month old already!).
Back to breakfast and puppy being near me in the ex-pen. Any time puppy chooses to lay in his bed, I quietly praise and throw him treats (that he can get without leaving the bed!). This way, the puppy learns at an early age what a good thing it is to relax in his bed while I am eating a meal.
Then after my breakfast, we’ll do fast and fun training sessions, and often puppy will be earning breakfast while playing games that build skills and contribute to a strong understanding of my top foundation skills. And I’ll share with you what those are coming up in another blog post.
After having breakfast puppy will go back into his crate for 30 minutes then out for a potty break. He will then enjoy some supervised free time around the house and then into an ex-pen that has been placed strategically, depending on where we are and what we are doing.
Mid Morning and Lunchtime
Around mid-morning puppy will get a 5 minute training session, and a short walk around the field then back to his crate or ex-pen near me.
Lunchtime has us out for a potty break then some games of action to burn off energy, then another 5 minute training session for puppy’s midday meal. There will possibly be some playtime with one of my older dogs. A second supervised romp in the room I am in for 10 – 15 minutes then back into his ex-pen.
Afternoon and Evening
Before you know it, we are at supper time. Another short training session, potty break then free time with me while I prepare for dinner time. Puppy goes into the ex-pen again while we eat and earns rewards any time he chooses to go on his bed.
We’ll have an after supper fun session focusing on priority foundation skills. Through the day we’ve worked on duration on a bed, and there are many future uses for this skill, including being able to relax in the evening with a chew bone when the TV is on… can’t miss any Raptors games.
After supper, the priority is a bit of exercise for the puppy. That is usually accomplished with some foundation skills; recalls or tugging most likely. In the evening the puppy will have supervised access to the adult dogs in my home (those that tolerate puppies well), and possibly some informal training with me as I play with the puppy and one last trip outside before bed.
So, there we have it, a typical day, and of course, there will be puppy adventures to fit in.
Talking about adventures, the Adventure Box has been set up and everyone approves. You can click here for a video, it’s on Facebook but is public so everyone can watch.
Let me know in the comments what a typical day looks like for a puppy in your life.
Today I am grateful for starting outdoor fun with Alexis, David, Stevie and Moira. There’s a video on Facebook of the first attempt at a puppy recall (there’s always that one puppy!).
This is some great insight- I am a huge fan and watched tons of your videos and bought crate games.
One thing I have yet to see laid out with clarity is what puppy containment looks like BEFORE they have become comfortable with alone time and proficient with crate games. I would love to hear about your routine when pups have a hard time being enclosed away from their person. (I’ve fostered many pups that have issues with this, even if I’m still within sight but not right by them). Containing them safely is obviously essential, we can’t supervise or even be close by every minute- and yet, we also want to minimize negative associations with the crate/pen/alone time….how do you do both for puppies that have a harder time being separated from you?
Could I use a leash instead of an ex-pen when I take my breakfast ? Im little bit overwhelmed because in the meantime we teach good choices my puppy try to bite every furniture in the house….we cannot say leave it cus Susan think its best if we teach with the IYC and I approuve bit its difficult to let the puppy wonder in the house without breaking anything 🤷♀️ but in a more positive note Im very impress with the training sessions , I do Home school the dog and its amazing 😊
How does the puppy’s schedule adapt as he gets a few months older?
Hi Kristin, Susan has a podcast with video about how she uses milestones for puppy progressions that is really helpful:
Episode 41: Get a Behaved Dog by Celebrating Milestones!
Glad to see our puppy isn’t in her pen too much. I have tug toys coming through the bars and give her various boxes with a treat etc. Her favorite toy is a very sturdy clear plastic bottle that originally held 1/2 quart of milk. It is super tough and I put various things inside for her to try to get out: kibble, rubber bone, cardboard. Training before meals works best as otherwise she isn’t strongly food motivated. 4 month old Schipperke and other house dog 13 yr old Schipperke.
I just read your comment and I’m curious about your items you hang in your pups crate. How do you set one up in which they have to work at getting a snack. I got Quincy a week and a half ago, he’s a Great Dane x Great Pyrenees. He 11 weeks hold and a great dog. I’m being very careful and trying to be consistent in teaching him because he’s going to be so big. I’m assuming you took the online puppy training with Susan. Do you think it helped, as she sounds great. Sorry for the novel. 😂
I appreciate any advice.
How do you get the puppy comfortable with being alone in the xpen? I have a baby barrier that i’ve been using to separate two areas but my pup cries and whines if im on the other side. What could I do to help her relax when she’s on the other side of the barrier?
I have the same problem
Hi Giuliana and Kay, Susan covers this in a podcast episode, here’s the link:
Where are your older dogs during all this? Do they walk loose in the same room puppy is in ex-pen or are they put up in another area of the house? When you have the supervised free time are you training/playing with your puppy, do they get a bone to lay and chew on each time or what do they typically do in those free times to set them up for success?
Susan mentioned she would be going in to her top foundation skills in a later blog.
I was wondering of I can find that somewhere already?
Mary jane form Holland
Hi Mary Jane, Susan covered essential foundations for puppies in her podcast “Get a Behaved Dog by Celebrating Milestones!”, here’s the link:
Typical day for us.
I get Gaston out of the crate that is at the foot of my bed carry him with the other dogs as well outside. Once he has finished his business. We all stay outside for breakfast( their) or come in depending on the weather. I am usually on the floor with Belle and Gaston playing. Then he comes to the bathroom with me while I get ready for work. (I put him in our garden tub haha) Once, I have finished besides getting dressed we go back outside for another potty break. I then play a little with him and Belle while eating my breakfast. I then get my lunch ready. I also throw in a quick training session with Gaston and Belle. What I train at that time is some basic commands sit, lay down, come and working a little on stay.
really pleased to see these posts Susan as my Jap Spits is likely to have puppies at end of Oct. i want to set them all up right for their new homes including the one that will stay with me for agility in the coming years.
How soon do you start doing the treating when on a bed, recall, tuggy? do you do that even when they are only a month old?
Great to learn your way with the puppies! So cute and informative! One question: Why do you carry the puppy for toilet training outside?
Enjoying the puppy journey so much, Susan. The first and only puppy I ever had was back in the 70s (yeah, that dates me!) and what did I know? Since then, it has been adult rescue dogs. I believe in rescue … but would love a puppy as beautifully, carefully, and lovingly raised as these. It would be so fun to work with an open, inquisitive partner with such a strong foundation of love and enrichment.
Pat, wrt letting the puppy out after my other dogs, I do this for a couple of reasons. 1. Puppies are used to be getting up (say to get a drink of water or go to the toilet) during the night. So me leaving for a few moments isn’t a big deal to any puppy. I am an early mornig rise, between 4-5 AM so for most of the year it is still dark outside (and in my bedroom) so most of the time the puppy doesn’t actually realize I have gone anywhere. 2. If they puppy does wake up (which as an older puppy they may do) this is a great way to teach a puppy patience and about the fact there is no set routine to when you get out. Having said all of that I am happy to adjust this routine for young puppies if they are restless when I first get up, in which case I will take them out, put them back in their crate in the bedroom and go back to them after I’ve let my other dogs out.
I have followed the Puppy Culture protocols with the past three litters I have had. Pups have experienced people of all ages, surfaces of all kinds, clicker training, crate training, potty training, lots of handling, yard walks, practicing recalls using back chaining to teach the recalls, collars and leashes, sniffing for treats and a myriad of other things.
So, I am raising dogs that are totally different in motivation from Border collies. They are not food-motivated and they have little to no prey drive. My livestock guardian dog puppies (purebred Kangal Dogs) were born near the animals they will grow to guard. Chasing any of their animals is completely forbidden. Their mom is their primary trainer. They will stay with her until they are at least 12 weeks old. Since the breed is not food-motivated, belly rubs and back scratches are the best rewards for quiet, calm behavior. They are highly sociable, so having their animals run from them makes them sad.
I expect them all to be sitting (or sleeping) before I open the gate when I arrive with breakfast, lunch or dinner. They eat communally. Then there is an after meal melee as the puppies silently practice their Seal Team predator fighting skills. After about 10 minutes they all fall asleep. Like their adult counterparts, they sleep most of the day, unless something interesting happens. The poultry, sheep or goats, however, are on duty 24/7 to let the puppies know when their behavior is frightening or disrespectful. The puppies learn to move quietly and slowly around their animals; they are rewarded by having the birds, goats or lambs sleep and eat peacefully near them.
The puppies are awake part of the night, exploring and wrestling. They listen to what their mom and the other livestock guardian dogs bark at. They learn what are normal noises and smells, and which are suspicious or threatening to their stock.
Most days there are visitors to the farm. The visitors are invited in to pet and enjoy the puppies. Puppies only get scratches and belly rubs who are sitting quietly or leaning nicely against a leg. Two or three will roll belly up and wait for their favorite treat: a full belly massage!
If the day is hot the puppies will spend a couple forays into the small shallow marsh. Most days they either find a spot to sleep in the shade or sprawled out in the sun. They are growing about 5lbs a week, so that takes a lot of energy.
In their future work they will live unstructured lives in complete responsibility for their pasture world. They will be entrusted with the guardianship of their flock of animals and expected to make independent decisions without the input of a human. They will only leave their pasture/farm to go to the veterinarian; for many of them the vet will come to them.
As puppies I teach them to walk on a leash, sit quietly for their food, stand for an exam, have their teeth, ears and feet checked, and that’s about it. But it only takes 1 or 2 lessons for that skill to be fixed for life (well, or until teenage months, then it has to be “re-learned”). Everything else they need to know (hawk = bark, robin = yawn, cougar = roar) they learn from their world, as instructed by their instincts.
Fascinating to hear your story Laura, dogs having a life that they are bred to do.
Really enjoy reading about the puppies and Momenum. But just noticing that you say “his”. I was thinking you chose Stevie but could it be David?
I wondered that too 😎🐾🌷
Question: knowing that puppies have smaller bladders than adult dogs, why do you make the puppy wait in the morning until the adult dogs go outside?
Oh my goodness! Puppies are fulltime job! I really wish all the people who have puppies would do this , that would really give a great head start on bringing one home! They are growing fast and are very adorable!
So amazing! Just beautiful! I can’t tell you how much insight I am gaining, just reading and watching you Your puppies, but also through this whole community and program! These puppies are just gorgeous! And so energetic and happy! Momentum looks like she is having so much fun with her ‘kids’! Love, love, love that you are sharing this experience with us! Smoosh them all for me!