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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My husband and I will be picking up our new soft coated wheaten terrier puppy after he turns 8 weeks, which will be in about a month. We are in the process of making sure we are ready for him!

Our main concern is our lack of a yard. We live in a 4th floor condo in the city. How should we handle this when it comes to house training? Everything I've read says to pick up the puppy and take him outside QUICKLY as soon as he starts sniffing. But we will have to go down an elevator, through a lobby and about half a block away to the grassy area. We do have a balcony that I considered putting a pee pad on until he can hold it longer, but we do not want him to think he can relieve himself there once he is older.

My husband works from home so the puppy won't be alone, but he does still need to work and won't be able to watch the puppy all day. Should we get a pen for him, lined with something absorbent, or should we just go straight to crating him all day (with potty breaks)?

Also, how much exercise should I plan for? Everything I can find just says 'adequate'. Does anyone have experience with wheatens and have a recommendation? Once he is older, we plan to take him running with us. Would that be enough?

Thank you for any advice you can give! We're first time dog owners and want to make sure we do this right.
 

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My first response is NOT to put pads on your balcony. We used puppy pads for our first pup because we were in an apartment, waiting for our house to be finished, and we quite far from a grassy area. But, we found that he started thinking it was ok to pee on anything that seemed even remotely "pad-like", like throw rugs, door mats, bath mats, a sweatshirt or towel that accidentally got left on the floor, etc.

I know it will be difficult, but, I am all for training him outside from the beginning. The thing is, don't just WAIT til he starts sniffing, set up a SCHEDULE. Take him out every 30-40 minutes, depending on how he does. For instance, if he's ok and doesn't have any accidents or emergencies when you take him out every 40 minutes, then stick with 40 minutes. BUT, if he tends to squirm or has an accident at the 30 minute mark, then you should probably set the interval for every 25 minutes, so you PREVENT that accident.

I realize that, even though your husband is home, he needs to work. The thing is, taking him out this often won't last forever, and it will greatly help the potty training process if you are PROACTIVE, and PREVENT accidents by working out a schedule like this, because the more accidents he has inside, the more likely he'll be to think inside is an acceptable potty place, out of habit.

So, besides the schedule, pups need to go out after eating/drinking/playing/exercising/waking up (even from naps). Some people use a tethering method, using a leash to tether the puppy to themselves, so the puppy doesn't get out of their sight and sneak off to pee/poop. Some people use crates with only potty breaks.

I am not a fan of using crates, especially if your husband is home. I think having the puppy in the crate for the majority of the day doesn't help with getting the puppy used to the "rules of the house". Also, sometimes puppies need to pee even in the crate, and if they can't hold it any longer, they'll pee in the crate, despite the general rule that says dogs don't like to soil their sleeping area. If the puppy is in the crate, you can't always TELL if the puppy is sniffing or squirming, giving signs of needing to go out, so you might miss it, and then you have an accident. The more accidents in the crate, the more likely he'll think it's acceptable.

My advice would be, for the next couple months, set the timer, and take him out. Start with 30-40 minutes. You may be able to increase the interval after a month to every 45 min- 1 hour. But, better safe than sorry. It's easier to go through a little hassle and inconvenience than to try to correct potty training problems later.

Also, never reprimand for accidents. Young puppies don't have the physical ability to hold it very long, so it's really the human's job to get them out in time. In the beginning, young pups won't even realize they have to potty until it's really too late. If you are vigilant about preventing accidents, it will be a big help.

You could set up the pen, in an area that has easy clean floors, so the puppy is contained in a puppy safe area, with water, a bed/crate and toys. Then, your husband could take him out on schedule and after naps and such.

As for exercise, start with 20 minutes, twice a day. Don't overdue it until he's developed. Running is great. But walks, where he can actually sniff things out and explore a bit, is a great form of mental exercise!
 

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I usually agree with Doxiemommy, and I think what she describes is what you would do in an "ideal" world, but I think it sounds like you've got about a 15 minute roundtrip journey to the potty spot, so if you take the dog out every 30 minutes, you're going to be spending the bulk of every hour taking your puppy out. For me at least, that wouldn't be tenable for more than a day or two, especially if I was trying to work.

I NEVER recommend these things, but I think you should try one of the dog potty things, the kind that have turf on top. Put it on your balcony and use it for some potty breaks, but try to go outside as often as possible. That way, when the pup is older and can hold it longer, you'll be able to get rid of the pet potty and not have confusion about potty bads.
 

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We had the exact same situation. Fourth floor of an apartment building, nearest "safe" potty spot across the street or around behind the builidng about equal distance. Basically you just have to make it work. Set a schedule, take him out on time and watch him like a hawk in between incase he starts to show signs of going. You'll be getting lots of exercise for the first month or two but its definitely possible. If you have stairs you can go down it's usually a lot faster than waiting for the elevator. Just pick him up and go, I never got peed on picking him up just before he started/just after and carrying him down 4 flights of stairs.
 

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Yes, I totally understand where you're coming from. I live on the 7th floor, and it's super nice to have some turf on your balcony just in case you can tell he's squatting and won't make it downstairs. Butters is doing great on it, because the turf feels like grass, though I have to say it's a pain to clean, and it will start to smell if you have a sharp nose. My balcony is also quite large, and the grass area is fenced in so she can focus on peeing when she's out there - it's about 3x3ft. Always say her pee pee command word when she goes, and reward after.

When she was really young and I didn't have the option to come home for lunch, I put down puppy pads in her ex-pen area (which is actually a closed off kitchen area), because otherwise, when I come home 99% of the time there's pee on the floor. However, now that she's holding it very well, I come home at lunch time to let her out, and there hasn't been an accident during the day for a long time.

For realistic sakes, I would have a long term confinement area, with artificial turf in a litter pan as the go-to potty area just in case you're in home to take her out. Again, young puppies won't be physically able to hold their pee in, so why have it all over the floor? This is just temporary until she's old enough to hold it 8 hours+. As your dog's bladder matures, you'll find he uses the indoor potty less frequently, and eventually just take it away. Don't reward him for going inside, keep in mind, it's just a management technique to keep pee off your floor.

Many would disagree and say not to have an indoor option at all, even if it's fake grass, but again, when you're away, you don't have much of another option, unless you have a dog walker who can come and let her out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all for your advice! I will talk to my husband tonight and see if he is up to taking the puppy out every 30 minutes. I kind of doubt he will be able to do that though, so we might have to resort to a turf patch on the balcony until the pup is older.

Thanks again!
 
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