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Im picking up my puppy in about 10 days.. Ive never had a puppy before and Ive been researching methods to house train and want more info on building a sod box.. The only thing I can find online are products to purchase but I think I can do it cheaper and better myself and the only instructions I can find online are from the same source and is extremely vague on its construction and use:

"To make a sod box, place sod in a container such as a child's small, plastic swimming pool. "

I happen to have a few plastic trays that fit into one another and that are the exact size as a piece of sod, 24"x16". I was going to drill holes in the bottom of 2 trays and get 1 piece of sod for each and then set them in a solid one when being used so nothing spills.. Since I have 2 I can rotate them and leave one outside and freshly hosed down and in the sun while the one is with the puppy..

Now Im taking a week off work when I get the puppy but Im eventually going to have to go back to work. The puppy will be in his XPen for about 5 hours at a time before I can get home at lunch and rather than leaving down newspaper or something, this is what I want to leave this in his XPen when Im gone.. I hope that by the time the puppy is too big to go in the sod box he will be old enough to be able to hold it while Im at work..

Now assuming I can get the puppy reasonably trained to go on the grass by taking him out constantly when im home that first week and even using the tray outside, Im hoping he will get the hint once hes closed in his pen.. Ive already got the trays and I live near a nursery where I can by sod for $.97 a piece, so I can set this up for $2... Even if I had to get new sod every week for a few months, I would still end up spending less than anything on the market I could buy.. Can anyone find something wrong with my plan? Like I mentioned before Ive never had a puppy before, so I dont know how well this might work in real life, but it seems like it would to me.
 

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Kate
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Might want to talk with the breeder. They might be using something different than sod to "cue" the puppy. My guy was "cued" with cedar chips/sawdust. We were sent home with a bag and instructed to spread the chips out where the puppy was to relieve himself. We spread the cedar under a pine tree (ironic enough) where it wouldn't get lost in the snow. I do prefer this method as the dog has a very firm idea that he is not allowed to pee/poop inside the house, but can't imagine a puppy holding it for five hours.

About the exercise pen - it might be safer leaving your puppy in a "clean" room (kitchen or bathroom - somewhere with tile floors that can be easily cleaned). Maybe there are different kinds out there, but the ones I've seen at shows seem pretty flimsy + your puppy is going to try jumping for freedom at some point and he could get injured if tangled or caught on the pen.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
As far as cue's, I dont want to cue him on anything other than grass.. Thats one of the reasons Im looking into this at all.. Im in South Florida, so I wont ever have to worry about snow covering the grass or anything like that.. I have a fenced in yard with plenty of space and even have a dog door, but the dog door is in a location that he wont have free access to for a long time so I need to find another way to get him access to a place to go while Im gone.. My sister trained her dog on newspapers, but he really took a liking to that and will occasionally go on newpapers that have been left lying around..

Im using the xpen in the kitchen because I dont have a room that is safe enough to just gate up. Even the kitchen isnt completely puppy proof and its so wide open i would need like a 10ft long gate to close it off.. As far as the xpen goes, Im not worried about its stability, its actually pretty stable standing alone and it will be braced on 3 sides by walls and counters.. I would lock him in the downstairs laundry/bathroom, but I use that room for storage and its definitely not safe in there for a puppy..
 

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Kate
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As far as cue's, I dont want to cue him on anything other than grass.. Thats
But what I was saying is that if you go with a good breeder, they've already potty trained your puppy and cued him to only go on X material. Cedar chips/sawdust is the easiest because it smells strong to the puppies and it also absorbs the pee, particularly if you're having the puppy pee and defecate indoors.

Also, unlike newspapers, you aren't likely to have cedar chips/sawdust inside the house after you transition the dog outside.

In the case with my puppy, his transition started per breeder's instructions when I brought the pupster home. As my breeder said, the puppy was already potty trained, but I had to follow through and keep it that way.

That's simply what I was saying. The breeder might already have the puppy cued to go on a different material other than sod. Doesn't mean he can't be taught to go on the sod instead of cedar, but it might take longer than a week to get the message across.

Re/pen - I'm not concerned about stability. I'm concerned about the puppy trying to jump over or climbing over the side and getting tangled. Goldens are active little adventurers when they are about 13-15 weeks old. And even when they are younger (I have a picture of one of Jacks 7 week old littermates climbing the fenced side of the run where the seperated puppies were kept)! That might not be a problem if you are home and keeping tabs on him, but it might be a problem if he's alone for long periods.
 

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Humankind. Be both.
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Sounds like a good plan to me. Good to start with your preferred surface as soon as possible, and and x-pen can be a nice, safe spot for a young pup. I'd make sure the collar doesn't have any tags on it (or take the collar off while he's in the pen) b/c I have seen tags somehow get stuck in the bars of the x-pen. Glad you have it braced, b/c when they jump up on the sides, they can ski them across slick floors. As he gets bigger, if you need to, you can always fashion a lid for the pen.

Congrats on a pup!
 

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I see what you mean.. I know my breeder has several fenced in acres of lawn but that doesnt mean the dogs are going out there.. Im going to visit tomorrow so I'll find out more about that then.. And as far as escaping the pen, i guess its possible for him to climb out, I'll have to keep an eye on him for the first week and see how he takes being in the pen and go from there.. At this point its my only real option.. Im hoping that by the time he is able to easily escape it that it wont be needed anymore anyway... My kitchen is semi-movable though.. If the pen really doesnt work, I should be able to rearrange my kitchen cabinets to be able to pen the kitchen in but thats serious work..
 

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Sounds like a good plan to me. Good to start with your preferred surface as soon as possible, and and x-pen can be a nice, safe spot for a young pup. I'd make sure the collar doesn't have any tags on it (or take the collar off while he's in the pen) b/c I have seen tags somehow get stuck in the bars of the x-pen. Glad you have it braced, b/c when they jump up on the sides, they can ski them across slick floors. As he gets bigger, if you need to, you can always fashion a lid for the pen.

Congrats on a pup!
Thanks for the input.. Ive had 2 Goldens before but Ive never had a puppy so, I have been reading everything I can about puppies.. And everything I have read says never lock them up with the collar, so thats a rule I will definitely be following.. Like I said on a previous post, this is all only to start with when he will be too young to hold it for long periouds.. I know that no matter how well I brace it, it wont hold him forever.. Im hoping at least though that by the time he does out grow all this, that he will be physically mature enough to hold it for the few hours I will have to leave him alone on work days.. In the end the dog will have the run of the house and fenced yard with the dog door, but we will have to slowly work up to that point..
 

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If the pen is 36", it should contain him quite well.
 

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Unless there is a complete 'need' to give the option to go inside, personally I wouldn't. It just means another step in housebreaking and smell and mess in the house.

I crate train puppies, and they learn to hold it quite well, five hours might be a long time for a young puppy, but I have never had a problem with any here, most of the time they settle into the crate, go to sleep and you take them out as soon as you get home and they're fine. At the most, with two fosters who came from Mexico got a few days with a tray filled with wood shavings, then they got switched over to going outside (quickly) to potty outside.

You may find crating to work just fine for you, or if you're not comfortable, I would suggest a container with wood shavings, as it's cheap, easy to totally change over and not too messy if they get into digging. I know with my guys a sod box would be a huge mud party by the time they'd be done with it.

Of course if you're going to be gone for five hours, adjust your routine so you're up a few hours before so puppy can have a few good walks and playtime first, and they'll likely be quite ready to nap for the whole time.
 

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Unless there is a complete 'need' to give the option to go inside, personally I wouldn't. It just means another step in housebreaking and smell and mess in the house.

I crate train puppies, and they learn to hold it quite well, five hours might be a long time for a young puppy, but I have never had a problem with any here, most of the time they settle into the crate, go to sleep and you take them out as soon as you get home and they're fine. At the most, with two fosters who came from Mexico got a few days with a tray filled with wood shavings, then they got switched over to going outside (quickly) to potty outside.

You may find crating to work just fine for you, or if you're not comfortable, I would suggest a container with wood shavings, as it's cheap, easy to totally change over and not too messy if they get into digging. I know with my guys a sod box would be a huge mud party by the time they'd be done with it.

Of course if you're going to be gone for five hours, adjust your routine so you're up a few hours before so puppy can have a few good walks and playtime first, and they'll likely be quite ready to nap for the whole time.

Well, from what I have read a 2 month old puppy would never be able to hold it for 5 hours and also should not be crated for that long if at all possible.. Thats my main concern and the reason I plan on using a pen and the sod box to begin with.. And even when I am gone for the afternoon, thats on top of taking him out when I first wake up and again shortly after I feed him which will be right before I leave.. But I still dont think an 8 week old puppy has the bladder control to keep for for 5 hours no matter how much to let them go itn he morning... And this will only be while they are very young.. I dont think they would be able to pee enough to turn the sod to mud, but I guess I may learn that Im wrong in that regard, the hard way..
 

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Tracer, Rumor & Cady
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What stops the puppy from tearing up and/or eating the sod?
 

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I think your plan for using the sod box is a good one to use when you have to leave the puppy for 5 hour stretches in the beginning when you go back to work but I would make sure that you only use it for long period of times and not when you are home with the pup or at night.

Crate training the first week you are home with the puppy and not using the sod box will be your first steps in training your pup to eliminate outside. Placing the sod box out on the deck or on the cement will cue the pup to use it when the backyard is not possible. Putting your pup in the crate for 20 minutes after eliminating outside will help the pup learn to hold it while in the crate. You will want to increase the time in the crate gradually to teach the pup to be able to hold it for longer periods of time. Do this several times a day the first day home. When you shower, the pup goes in the crate. Of course make sure you take the puppy outside first before putting in the crate! When you need to make dinner, pups goes in the crate and etc. Continue extending the time in the crate and make it positive. Feed the puppy in the crate every time, toss a cookie in the crate when you want them to kennel up and place some toys filled with peanut butter or frozen yogurt to keep the pup busy.

You should not have to use the sod box for a very long time if you continue the method of crate training sessions when you are home, on the weekends and at night as well.

24 X 16 is not a very large area for a growing pup and you may find you will need to make the sod box area a bit larger. You can purchase different sized rabbit trays at your local pet shop and can easily use those if you need to. Instead of drilling holes in the box (in case it cracks and doesn't work well), you could place a disposable puppy pad underneath the sod and change that out when needed - just a thought.

No collar on the pup if you leave them in an Xpen when you go to work. Make sure the height is at least 36 inches or more. If the pup climbs, you may find them running around the house while you are gone so place the crate & Xpen in an area that is safe - just in case. You might want to think about a Xpen that has only vertical bars. Google 'rover pet enclosures'. Safer and more costly than a regular Xpen but the pup cannot climb out as there is no horizontal bars to get a foot on to climb! You can also make enclosures out of PVC - google PVC pet enclosure instructions. I have seen many and if you need a link, I can post it.

Good luck with your new puppy!
 

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What stops the puppy from tearing up and/or eating the sod?
Nothing......same as tearing up the grass outside and eating it! LOL!

If the sod becomes too enticing and the pup is tearing it up, you could find/order a piece of artificial turf from a supplier that most likely would hold up longer. You could also wash & disinfect the turf easier.
 

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The other option, and what I have people do in your situation (when they have to be gone longer than pup can hold it) is just use newspaper or pee pads. I tape them down to the floor. Most non-pet store dogs desire to be clean so as soon as they are able to, they hold it and stop using the paper anyway.

The rest of the time, when you're home, take pup outside so they learn grass as the preferred surface.

That's what I did with my first pup when I still had an 8-hour office job away from home.
 

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I litter train my baby pups with either pine or wheat pellet litter when they are weaning and send it home with the pups as Megora's breeder did. Something like that in a little tray holds and absorbs liquid and is scoopable. It keeps smell and mess contained. Then that litter can be taken out and put in the area of the yard that will eventually be their potty area. The grass would quite quickly get a strong urine smell, and the pup could track through their feces quite easily. They really do learn what is appropriate quickly, and my own pup kept from the last litter is ringing the bell at the back door to go out when I am home. She's 12 weeks old now.

The x-pen can be an excellent contained area but as mentioned, it should be braced/secured so it cannot be slid about or tipped. And I would see about getting a top for it which also helps lock it in place and keeps pup from going over the top. My little houdini figured out how to climb quite quickly so she has a roof made of 2 added panels from a drop-pin type pen zip tied 2x on each end and 6x along each side, to create a 2 foot x 6 foot enclosed indoor run for her.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for all the ideas everyone! I'll take a few pictures when I get everything set up just to give you an idea of how I hope everything works..

sterregold said:
I litter train my baby pups with either pine or wheat pellet litter when they are weaning and send it home with the pups as Megora's breeder did. Something like that in a little tray holds and absorbs liquid and is scoopable. It keeps smell and mess contained. Then that litter can be taken out and put in the area of the yard that will eventually be their potty area. The grass would quite quickly get a strong urine smell, and the pup could track through their feces quite easily. They really do learn what is appropriate quickly, and my own pup kept from the last litter is ringing the bell at the back door to go out when I am home. She's 12 weeks old now.
FlyingQuizini said:
The other option, and what I have people do in your situation (when they have to be gone longer than pup can hold it) is just use newspaper or pee pads. I tape them down to the floor. Most non-pet store dogs desire to be clean so as soon as they are able to, they hold it and stop using the paper anyway.

The rest of the time, when you're home, take pup outside so they learn grass as the preferred surface.

That's what I did with my first pup when I still had an 8-hour office job away from home.
I thought about using another medium or just newspapers, but I already have the plastic trays and I can get the sod for less than $2. I would end up spending more on newspapers or another type of litter I think.. As far as the smell, Im hoping that having 2 trays with drainage holes will easily allow me to switch them out daily and hose them down in the front yard and allow them get some sun.. The 3rd tray Im using to make sure there is no mess can be hosed down too. The sod box will only be available while Im at work and removed and cleaned when I get home and I will be taking the puppy out in the yard in the mornings, during lunch, and evenings.. I was actually thinking that once he is a bit older I may be able to use the xpen and leave one since open to enclose the dog door and allow him to go out whenever he wants.. Its right in the living room though and there are too many things for him to chew and eat in there unsupervised, so I cant really let him loose in the room to use the dog door.. My only concern with that is that there is not a lot of shade where the dog door is and even though its winter and the AC is still on, that sun can still be too much..

sterregold said:
The x-pen can be an excellent contained area but as mentioned, it should be braced/secured so it cannot be slid about or tipped. And I would see about getting a top for it which also helps lock it in place and keeps pup from going over the top. My little houdini figured out how to climb quite quickly so she has a roof made of 2 added panels from a drop-pin type pen zip tied 2x on each end and 6x along each side, to create a 2 foot x 6 foot enclosed indoor run for her.
Yes, it will be braced by wall on 2 sides and a counter on a half side.. On the side I'll use as the door Im going to brace with a length of 2x4 and a 15lb dumbell.. Im hoping that should keep everything relatively secure.. Also, my mom found me a roll of this really thick rubbery tape. The kind of thing you might use to stop a cabinet door from slamming into the cabinet when you close it. Only the roll is long enough that I should be able to line the bottom of the xpen and since it will be on a tile floor it should really help it stay in place and not slide around.. Hopefully the puppy wont try to chew on that too..

I think your plan for using the sod box is a good one to use when you have to leave the puppy for 5 hour stretches in the beginning when you go back to work but I would make sure that you only use it for long period of times and not when you are home with the pup or at night.

Crate training the first week you are home with the puppy and not using the sod box will be your first steps in training your pup to eliminate outside. Placing the sod box out on the deck or on the cement will cue the pup to use it when the backyard is not possible. Putting your pup in the crate for 20 minutes after eliminating outside will help the pup learn to hold it while in the crate. You will want to increase the time in the crate gradually to teach the pup to be able to hold it for longer periods of time. Do this several times a day the first day home. When you shower, the pup goes in the crate. Of course make sure you take the puppy outside first before putting in the crate! When you need to make dinner, pups goes in the crate and etc. Continue extending the time in the crate and make it positive. Feed the puppy in the crate every time, toss a cookie in the crate when you want them to kennel up and place some toys filled with peanut butter or frozen yogurt to keep the pup busy.

You should not have to use the sod box for a very long time if you continue the method of crate training sessions when you are home, on the weekends and at night as well.

24 X 16 is not a very large area for a growing pup and you may find you will need to make the sod box area a bit larger. You can purchase different sized rabbit trays at your local pet shop and can easily use those if you need to. Instead of drilling holes in the box (in case it cracks and doesn't work well), you could place a disposable puppy pad underneath the sod and change that out when needed - just a thought.

No collar on the pup if you leave them in an Xpen when you go to work. Make sure the height is at least 36 inches or more. If the pup climbs, you may find them running around the house while you are gone so place the crate & Xpen in an area that is safe - just in case. You might want to think about a Xpen that has only vertical bars. Google 'rover pet enclosures'. Safer and more costly than a regular Xpen but the pup cannot climb out as there is no horizontal bars to get a foot on to climb! You can also make enclosures out of PVC - google PVC pet enclosure instructions. I have seen many and if you need a link, I can post it.

Good luck with your new puppy!
As mentioned above, this will only be while Im at work and I do plan on crate training with during our first week.. And the xpen I got is from a friend, its a Midwest 36" doorless pen so I think it should be sufficient. As far as the puppy's size goes, thats one of my main concerns.. I think it might work just fine for the first week or so, but Im concerned he will grow out of it before he is done needing it.. Im hoping otherwise, but its very likely.. I could pretty easily cut the side of 2 trays apart and make it 32x24 which I think would make it more useful but there would still be some kind of gap in the middle unless I laid sod over it.. I'll have to look into the rabbit trays though.. I was hoping to get away with the hardware I already had, but that seems like it could still be cheap enough to do the job at the right price..

What stops the puppy from tearing up and/or eating the sod?
Absolutely nothing.. :) Hopefully he finds the toys Im going to leave him with more enticing than the sod.. Ive got a puppy kong or 2 just waiting to be stuffed with treats to help with that..
 

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I totally agree with Bender: "I would suggest a container with wood shavings, as it's cheap, easy to totally change over and not too messy if they get into digging. I know with my guys a sod box would be a huge mud party by the time they'd be done with it". My Golden has always had a fondness for digging. Giving her access to a sod box in my absence would NOT be a good thing!
 

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I think it's great that you're thinking through this so thoroughly. I will say that when I read "sod" I thought, bugs, worms, dirt, gigantic mess and potentially, if puppy likes to EAT dirt and my Golden Boomer thought some of it was quite delicious, a potential tummy upset or a blockage.

Maybe re-consider artificial turf? If the texture is similar and it smells like the place to go, so to speak, it might make a less messy alternative when you transition?
 

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I used artificial grass mats that people used on their balconies. I put newspaper underneath to soak up the pee and rinsed it through with a hose often. Works well and they did not chew it. You should be able to get free newspaper from stores that have unsold papers. Here they get money back from the supplier if they cut off the title page. I get the whole out of date paper for free.
Puppies left of their own for lengths of time will chew anything!!
 
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