Thaks for the post. I think you hit on a few of my significant concerns. Between me and my wife and kids we can get him outdoors every hour without too much problem. It is just difficult to tell when he needs to go as he doesn't always eliminate when we take him out. We will need to use the ex-pen option, as my wife will leave for an hour or two at a time where Wicket can't go with her.
Any advice for training with the ex-pen? At this point he is disinterested in his stuffed kongs, he just wants to play with us. I know he needs to be ignored once he is in there, but if he barks for a half hour, an hour, what is too long. And when he finally calms down do I go right in and praise him? Take him out to play and risk a potty accident?
Thanks for the great input.
You need to start training confinement in very short increments. Start with 2 minutes, then 5, then 10... You can't just put the puppy in there and wait for them to "get over it". They are little babies, in a new frightening world. You can cause real anxiety problems that way.
With Kodi, I found that he was much more likely to settle in his pen or crate if I wasn't in the house or at least not on the same floor. He never really liked being in his pen when I was working nearby. I work from home, so I set up an ex-pen gated off area around my desk, and put a litter box in with us. He played around my feet as I worked. If I needed to go elsewhere in the house, I tethered him to me so I could keep a close eye on him.
Every puppy will give slightly different signals that he needs to go, and you learn them just by watching him closely. The reason for taking him out so often isn't that he'll need to GO that often, necessarily, but because you have a better chance of catching when he does need to go. (pretty sure bets are first thing in the morning, after meals and after naps). You WILL miss from time to time in the beginning, but do your very best to minimize accidents. Make sure that accidents are ebcause you haven't quite learned his signals, NOT because you weren't watching him closely enough.
With most puppies, it's fairly easy to tell if they need to poop. They stat sniffing around, sometimes running around while sniffing the floor (or ground) and then start to circle. Peeing can be harder. Some puppies squat, while others, like my Kodi, just stand still and go! With all that fluff on our Havanese puppies, if they don't squat, it can be hard to see what's going on under there! Still, we learned that Kodi would start sniffing around if he was too far from his litter box and needed to pee.
I won't say he never had an accident, but really not that many. I also am really glad we maintained his use of the litter box. It has made it MUCH easier in nasty weather in the winter time, and for the rare occasion when we have to leave him for longer periods of time. We found that he gravitated to going outdoors witout any real encouragement from us. In fact, he MUCH prefers going outside, so we have to really encourage him to use the litter box in nasty weather. That's your choice, but we hear over and over on the forum from people who wish they had maintained indoor potty training. Once you lose it, it's almost impossible to get back again.