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! 😀



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). 🙂


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° 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. 😀

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? 😀


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. 😉

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! 🙂

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. 🙂


Project: Great Room Color Splash

I love quick and easy home projects that are unexpected, or that add interest and freshen up a room. I also love repurposing: finding a new use for something that’s functional and not what it was originally intended for.

Colorful Sofa Pillows

Colorful Sofa Pillows

Sometimes it pays to think outside the box.

I was at Home Depot the other day picking up a few things, and saw some outdoor pillows that were eerily familiar. I have one set of deck furniture that is looking somewhat tired, and the pillows are very faded. These pillows were exactly what I needed to spruce it up for the summer!

Or so I thought. I got them home, and I was somewhat less than enchanted with the results. I brought them inside and stuck them in a corner to return later.

Yesterday I realized why I was drawn to them. Do you see what I see?

Who says outdoor pillows have to only be used outdoors? The Mattress Police?

Not only do these really add a splash of color to my Great Room, but at roughly $12 each, they are pretty inexpensive. Pillows seem to have short life spans at our house, so I am always looking for something that adds pizzazz but not at a pizzazz price. Especially when you stop to think that if someone spills something on them, you can take them outside and hose them off!

I’d say these were perfect for summer, wouldn’t you? 🙂

Talking With Dogs

Maggie With Her Treasure

Maggie With Her Treasure

So, this wasn’t really the blog post I’d planned, but this is a lot more fun on a dreary day. Enjoy!

Dogs are amazing creatures. They live by a whole different set of rules than humans do, but like people, they have different personalities and varying levels of intelligence. And some can communicate better than others.

If you don’t allow your dogs inside with you, you’re missing getting to know the nuances of their personalities and the joy that brings. Taking the time to “tune in” with your dog creates a deeper bond plus you’re rewarded with better behavior and lots of good-natured fun. We treat our dogs as individuals, which really allows their personalities to blossom.

Living with dogs is like having a houseful of 3-year olds. Forever.

And then there’s Maggie.

Maggie is more like a 5-year old. The Animal Planet says that the average trained dog’s vocabulary is about 160 words. This does not surprise me in the least.

Maggie is a doofus-maximus. Think Marmaduke. And because she’s a Rottweiler mix, her communications usually come out as demands. If I’m not clear on what she’s saying, I simply tell her she’s going to have to show me. And she does.  We even have conversations. Granted, they are brief. But it is still a series of questions and answers that take place between the two of us with an understanding of the message on both sides. (Isn’t that a conversation?)

My favorite Maggie-speak:

I’ll start with an easy one. See the picture above? Even if you’re a novice, you can tell that she is saying, “I want to come in.” (No.)

“Take that bone away from her and give it to me.” (No)

“Make her move so I can sit there.” (No)

“Give me that steak/chicken/pizza/tacos/hamburger….” (No)

“I want to sit there.” (No. That’s where I sit.)

“Help me up.” [in the car, truck, steps, etc.].  “Well, that sucked.” (If you didn’t do it properly.)

“I want to go for a ride.” She used to bring me my purse with this one. She trained me early on not to buy expensive purses.

“Give me some of that.”

I’m in the kitchen, cooking. “No, you do NOT come in here and demand something! You know you only get treats when you’re being good.” I continue my dinner preparations.

About five minutes later, I realize I’m hearing a very low whine. Maggie is laying on the rug by the back door.

“I’m being good now,” she says.

What would you say to this?!

One of her jobs over the years has been to come into the bathroom with me and lay on the rug while I was showering.

“Where’s the rug?” she asked.

“I’m washing it. I’m sorry it’s not here. I won’t be long.”

About a minute later, she sticks her head around the curtain into the shower. “Are you done yet?”

“Just a few more minutes. I’ll hurry. I promise.”

She sighs. I hear her pacing a little bit in the bathroom. (There’s no rug, remember?)

Sixty seconds later, her head comes back around the curtain again. “Are you done yet?”

This time, the sigh was mine.

My all-time favorite:

I noticed a sizable spider on the kitchen floor.

“Maggie, there’s a spider! See the spider? Kill that spider!”

Her ears perked up excitedly. She ran over to me and sniffed at the spider.

She lifted up her right paw. SPLAT! She looked up at me proudly. “Dead now!” she said.

“No, it’s not dead yet. Kill that spider!” I told her.

“What?” she frowned,  surprised. She sniffed at the still wiggling spider, then picked up her right paw again. SPLAT! She looked up at me again, proud and happy. “OK, dead now!”

Just think what I’d miss if I didn’t “tune in!” 😀