Step 3: How to Housebreak Your Puppy

The Best Cleaner

The Best Cleaner

This is the last in my 3-step series, How To Housebreak Your Dog in 3 Easy Steps!

Nature’s Miracle Cleaner

This is the best cleaner ever! My friend Kathy turned me on to this. You can get it at Tractor Supply, and I highly recommend that if you have animals, you keep it on hand.

Not only does it clean, but it also removes the odor so they don’t keep using the same spot over and over. You simply spray, wait a few minutes, then clean it up.

It is an enzyme cleaner, which removes even old deep-set stains and odors. It’s also safe to use around kids and other animals. You can use it on furniture and clothing too!

As you can see, I keep the handy refill size on hand at all times. If I had carpet (other than rugs), I would probably try to order it by the gallon. Because while my girls don’t have accidents often, when they do, it’s a doozy.

Like the time Ekko decided to “educate” her dad that when she “told” him she wanted to go out, he shouldn’t ignore her and get in the shower. Lucky him, he got to not only clean the rug, but also Ekko…and the sofa. ūüėÄ

Step 2: How to Housebreak Your Puppy

Charra in Her Crate

Charra in Her Crate

This is the second post in a series of three to help you housebreak your dog fast!


Let me be clear.

Crate-training is NOT cruel.

Crate-training helps them stay in your home forever.

Crate-training gives them security and protection.

Really. Their crate becomes their safe spot when they are scared or simply tired and need to rest. (Doesn’t everybody need some quiet time once in a while?)

Assuming you are progressing with Step 1, keeping your dog on a regular routine, Step 2 will be a breeze.

At bedtime, put them to bed in their crate. Do NOT put food or water in the crate! They aren’t going to die overnight.

When you leave for work, or errands,¬†put them in their crate. Do NOT put food or water in the crate! They aren’t going to die while you’re at work.

Leave them with a toy and a hoof or something to chew on. Puppies NEED to chew, it’s an important part of their development and, with the appropriate hoofs or bones, will help keep their teeth clean.

I don’t usually let them have toys at night, especially noisy toys. They need to learn that bedtime is BEDTIME.

During the middle of the day, come home and let them out to potty, or have someone else¬†do it if you can’t be home. Have a parade for them, and give them a little treat when you put them back in their crate.¬†(If you have more than one dog, you should give everyone a treat.)¬†In the very beginning, they may need to be let out during the middle of the night, until they learn to hold it through the night.

For the first few weeks, I usually put just a towel in the bottom of the crate rather than a bed, so that it’s easy to wash. If they are pottying in their crate, the crate is either too big, they have a medical or dietary problem, or they are just not mature enough to hold it for the period of time you’ve required them to.

If your dog is naughty, scold them with a firm “no” and simply put them in their crate for 10 or 15 minutes.¬†That’s an eternity to a dog!

Charra wanted to play with Daisy once, and Daisy objected. Charra informed Daisy that SHE would be the one to decide if, and when they played, and she wanted to play. NOW. And Charra was promptly escorted to her crate to chillax.

When we returned from Florida, I ‘retired’ Ekko’s (formerly Charra’s)¬†crate to the basement. We had¬†crated her¬†for over a year¬†because of a random chewing habit, and¬†she finally grew out of it.¬†She followed me down and inspected it for one last time, and looked at me. She was ready. She was a Big Girl now! And she was proud. ūüôā

How To Housebreak A Dog In Three Easy Steps

Ekko's First Picture

Ekko’s First Picture

Some of you may be getting new puppies now that school is out for the summer. This series of posts is for you!

I have a significant amount of knowledge and experience with this topic.¬†Over the years, I’ve housebroken at least 6 dogs of my own,¬†as well as¬†a number of foster dogs from my time volunteering for Field of Dreams Rescue.

My record is two days. The longest actually took several weeks, but then she had some quirks.

Assuming your dog is of average intelligence with no mental¬†issues,¬†is already spayed or neutered (or you have plans to) and doesn’t have any other¬†health problems, you should be able to housebreak him or her in two weeks or less if you consistently follow these steps.

Step 1: Be Consistent!

Dogs love routine. A consistent routine gives¬†them a feeling of security. They know what to expect from you, and that’s how¬†they¬†know when to do what they are supposed to.

The most important thing to do with a new puppy in the house is to get them on a schedule.

Do the same thing, at the same time, in the same place, in the same order, every day. Our dogs go outside to potty in the same order, every day at almost the same time. They are fed in the same order, in the same bowls, in the same place, every day.

In the beginning, puppies have to piddle often! Watch closely for their signs…sometimes they’ll get anxious, or get really wild all of a sudden…until they get old enough to tell you that they have to go. So in the beginning, take them out often. Like, every 30-60 minutes. You’ll soon get to know how often they need to go out. If your dog is a little older, say 10-12 weeks, they can usually hold it a little longer than that. You’ll just have to get to know your dog.

When you take them outside, use the same phrase every time. At our house, it’s “Do you need to go outside and go pee-pee?” Then once you’re outside, use a phrase to encourage them to go (with puppies, it’s to remind them…they are easily distracted!) I always say, “Go pee pee!” Keep repeating it, until they finally actually go. The first time they potty outside, have a PARADE!!!! Lots of love and kisses and hugs.

The next time you go outside, go back to the same spot. EVERY TIME.¬†They’ll quickly get the idea that’s where they are supposed to go. With Ekko, I had to choose my battles. It just so happened the first time she went poopie, she chose my flower bed. SIGH.

What’s more important, housebreaking her, or picking up some pooh from my flower bed? I went with the housebreaking. I’m rewarded for that decision with no accidents in the house, and the occasional opportunity to pick up pooh from the flower bed…still to this day.

While it was about two weeks before I actually felt confident that she was housebroken, Ekko really only had 3 accidents in the house, and that was during the first three days.

But then I’m not counting the time that Ekko¬†educated Jimmy that he should not ignore her and get in the shower when she told him she had to go potty. But that’s another story! ūüėÄ



Project: Add An Unexpected Element

Our Back Deck

Our Back Deck

This is the last post in the series of Quick Outdoor Space Projects that was on ‘rain delay’ from the Monday of Memorial Day weekend.

I spent all day last Saturday sweeping tree debris from our decks and patio and getting them somewhat ‘beautified’ again.¬†The stager in me¬†gets the warm fuzzies every time I see a tidy, uncluttered space that’s balanced. And beautiful!

Every year I do something a little bit different in my outdoor living spaces. It’s good to change things up once in a while.

This year, I added a rug.

This love seat and table used to sit on the front deck, but I moved it to the back this year. In this picture, you can see my houseplants, a square pot that’s going to be an herb garden (this sat on my kitchen counter unplanted for two months, lest you think I’m too ‘Martha’!), and a color bowl that I picked up at Home Depot.

Doesn’t the rug just add a little certain something? It really gives the space its Wow Factor;¬†I know it looks good if¬†Jimmy actually notices!

The big bonus for an indoor/outdoor rug is that they feel like a rug, but can actually be hosed off with a garden hose! When the sun gets really strong in the ‘dog days’ of summer,¬†I will bring it inside to prevent the sun from fading it.

And,¬†it’s perfect to¬†use inside if you have pets. Because no matter how well-behaved your dog is, accidents WILL happen. It’s the nature of the beast(s). ūüôā


Make a Breakfast Casserole This Weekend!

Amish Breakfast Casserole

Amish Breakfast Casserole

Every once in a while I like to change things up and make a breakfast casserole for Sunday morning. Because I’m going out of town on a Girl Power trip this week, I made this and froze the leftovers. Jimmy can feel the love from me, while I’m enjoying myself on the beach, with the ultimate in comfort food made just for him.

If we’re having a potluck at work, I’ll sometimes take this for breakfast, knowing we’ll have tons of food for lunch. It’s versatile,¬† you can use bacon or sausage, and you can make much of it ahead of time. It’s all cheesy goodness and everything else that’s yummy about breakfast. Plus it’s simple to make.

If I’m making it the day before, I’ll cook the sausage and mix everything else together but the eggs.

Amish Breakfast Casserole        

  • 1 pound sliced bacon, diced (or 1 lb. cooked sausage)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) 2% small curd cottage cheese
  • 1-1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese


  • In a large skillet, cook bacon (or sausage)¬†and onion until bacon is crisp; drain. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; stir in bacon mixture. Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.
  • ¬†¬† Bake, uncovered, at 350¬į for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Yield: 12 servings.

Two Women, 923 Miles, and A Beach

Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores

It’s not like I’m excited or anything.

Just because I’m going to be seeing my dear friends Peggy and John and be present as they begin their future together as a married couple.

Or be stuffing myself with seafood.

Or sitting on the beach with a good book.

Or having cocktails. I expect there will be a few of those.

And visiting the Flora-Bama Lounge again! (What a great place! I promise I will NOT be leaving my bra behind.) Seriously. There’s ropes with lots and lots of bras. This is a place with history, and what an interesting one! And bras.

I’ll take lots of pictures. And no doubt I will come home with lots of fun stories to share.¬†And great memories.

And there are no dogs or cats there.

At least not with us. I love my children dearly, but it’s nice to be away. My little girls are away at ‘camp’ at the Hound Around Hotel, and they’ll have a blast.

Watch Facebook for updates on Gulf Shores. There’s some fun stuff scheduled here on the Sunshine Express while I’m gone.¬†And I anticipate a whole lot of inspiration coming when I’m gone.

I just hope my car holds all our bags. ūüėÄ

Networking, Doggie Style

Mr. Turtle

Mr. Turtle

Dogs have their own idea of social networking. And social media, in the dog world, is the equivalent of sniffing where everyone else has peed. I read somewhere that a dog can tell the breed, sex, social status, and even the mood of a dog by just sniffing.¬†Just think, when¬†your walking your dog,¬†it’s the equivalent of letting them read the doggie newspaper.

We were both working in the yard one day¬†last week when we had a visitor. This was a nice Husky mix¬†boy I’d seen once before, but never met. He was very interested in what I was doing, so I said ‘hello’ and asked him if I could pet him. He was very gracious, and allowed me to do so, before resuming his inspection of the perimeter. He was less appreciative of the squirt with the water hose as I educated him on the necessity of not tinkling on my plants.

He would have liked to have met our girls, but because Jimmy and I wanted to actually be productive, we’d left them in the house. So Mr. Husky went about his business. He knew that if he were going to call on the girls unexpectedly¬†and convince them to come out to play, he¬†needed to¬†bring them a gift.

So he brought them a turtle.

I have no idea how long poor Mr. Turtle had laid upside down on our front deck in front of the sidelight beside our front door. I hadn’t even seen Mr. Husky venture up on the deck.

But I’m quite certain Mr. Turtle was less than impressed with Mr. Husky’s polite efforts to meet the girls. He was probably just wondering how in the hell he was going to get himself out of this predicament.

Thankfully, he was still alive, as he ducked¬†inside his shell when I¬†picked him up. I promptly returned him to our pond, which is where I suspect he came from in the first place.¬† I wonder what gifts Mr. Husky will bring the girls next? ūüėÄ


The Best Preparedness Flashlight Ever!

FlashlightSo I have a funny dog story that I’m dying to post. However, the storm we had Thursday afternoon interrupted those plans. After having the daylights scared out of me thanks to the 80 mph winds and cleanup afterwards, I was worthless the rest of the day! So thanks to the storm, you’re getting this one today instead.

I learned a good lesson after the storm we had last week: that these things can come up suddenly and with very little warning, and even if you think you’re prepared, you might not be. Our storm¬†was in the middle of the afternoon and we never lost power, but much of Kirksville did. Some locations went hours without power, so having multiple flashlights that work can be critically important.

How many times do you go fumbling in the dark looking for a flashlight? Are the batteries fresh? Do you remember where you left it? Do you have one at your bedside? What if you’re in the bathroom and the power goes off? What if you have company and they need to get up in the night?

These cool little flashlights can do it all!

These little gems can be a flashlight, a nightlight, or a lantern. I honestly liked these so much, I bought 6 of them. Yes, really! I think it’s one of the best purchases I ever made. They came 2 to a pack for less than $30 (I think more like $20) at Sam’s Club. I have them in our kitchen, bedroom, our bathrooms, and our guest room, all places that can be very dark, especially at night! While I keep the ones in our bedroom shut off, the ones in the kitchen,¬†guest room and bathrooms automatically come on when it’s dark, just like a night light.

You always know where they are. They are always charged. And you never have to fumble for one again. It’s the perfect multi-tasking tool!

Project: Add Some Bling!

An Outdoor Clock

An Outdoor Clock

I love bling. I love wearing it. I love seeing it. And I really love it in an outdoor living space.

By ‘bling’ in an outdoor living space, I’m referring to something a little sparkly or shiny or metallic that can add a pop of color and pizzazz.

Take my outdoor clock for instance. I bought this last summer, and¬†finally got it hung this week.¬†It’s on my west side patio, which¬†is underneath a deck so it has shade from the sun.¬†The copper edging harmonizes well with the rest of my space. It also has temperature and humidity guages, which¬†make it interesting conversation piece.¬†I have it hanging above my outdoor sectional, which really gives it a ‘”living space” feel.

As I sit here writing this, I realize I forgot to put batteries in the clock. OOPS. Oh well. One thing at a time. ūüėČ

Outdoor bling can be anything from a brightly colored candle in a candleholder, some neat colorful tiki torches, or colorful or shiny metallic flowers or glass globes. Even the solar ones that change color are eye candy, and are really pretty inexpensive.

One word of caution: Resist the temptation to overdo outdoor bling. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. We’ve all seen the yards where people have gotten carried away by lawn ornaments:¬†Your eyes are all over the place, and you can’t focus on the space as a whole. It’s like having a head full of bumblebee’s, it’s so busy! Depending on the size of your space, one or two well-placed pieces are usually enough.

The season for outdoor living is short, so make your space one that you’ll really enjoy. Happy living! ūüôā

Project: Move Your Houseplants Outside!

On My Front Deck

On My Front Deck

Moving your houseplants to your deck or patio can really add visual appeal to the space, making it feel more like an outdoor living room. With some plants and a few potted annuals, your outside space will have both color and a cozy, homey feel!

Once the mercury stays above 50 degrees at night, your houseplants can safely be moved outside. They need to be protected from direct sunlight, although a few early morning hours is no problem.¬†Up next to the house or in a corner¬†is usually the best spot. (Of course, as I write this, it is 48 degrees and raining here in Kirksville.¬†My plants¬†have been outside for a week, so they’ve had some time to acclimate to the temperature.)

Keep an eye on them for the first week or so; if they start to look discolored, they probably need to be moved to another spot that’s more shaded. You may have to water them more often if you aren’t getting rain periodically. During the high heat of summer, some plants may suffer if the temperature stays in the upper 90’s or higher for a prolonged period of time.

Don’t do this if you have low-light plants; they will get too much light. Which means you will have fewer plants!

Your plants will love being outside. Not only will they thrive, if they are in the right spot, but the rain will wash the dust off. It’s one less thing you have to clean! If you have several houseplants like I do, you’ll be amazed at how much it opens up your indoor space. The house seems almost bare and cooler with them outside, which is a nice change of pace for the summer.

At the end of the season (usually about mid-September), I’ll water them well and spray¬†for bugs¬†a day or two¬†before I bring them in. Your plants will be cranky for a couple of weeks after¬†coming back inside¬†and lose some leaves, but¬†they will adjust.¬†¬†And by fall, you’ll be ready for the warmth and coziness that plants bring to your home. ūüôā