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The Most Important Part of Raising a Puppy Is...

Drum roll please...

Schedule & Structure!!!

Not as sexy as you thought it would be? Well it is to me... lol

These are two things that the vast majority of people will not be consistent with and it makes a huge difference in how your puppy grows up. I find the biggest reasons people are inconsistent with schedule or providing more structure with their puppies is because:

  1. They feel guilty implementing a crate routine

  2. They geel guilty not having the puppy around them at all times

  3. They don't truly understand why it is so important

  4. They don't know what schedule and structure look like. It's difficult to implement something when you don't know what it looks like for your puppy

You can see that a big piece of what gets in the way of schedule and structure for people is often emotional. And I completely understand, puppies are cute as hell who wants to keep them in a crate?!


It's important to remember that your puppy is really like having an infant.

Even if you adopted a 6 month old pup from a rescue, chances are that rescue pup never really got schedule and structure which means they will really need it when you bring them home even though they are a bit older to help them feel safe.

So what does schedule and structure look like?

It looks like having your puppy on a set schedule for potty, play, train, crate.

There are so many incredible resources online for sample schedules I really like the one on this site because it gives you schedules for working at and away from home

Getting your puppy on a set schedule helps them learn to regulate between play time and down time which will be a very important skill later in life. Like when you are walking them past their best friend but need them to stay walking with you. It is starting to develop an "off switch" which I am sure you probably can imagine the benefits of!

Crating your puppy gives them the chance to learn how to regulate themselves on their own without you, which means less chances for separation anxiety to develop and feeling confident on their own.

Crating keeps your puppy safe from getting into anything they could swallow that could be harmful, which means no sudden scares or expensive trips to the vet.

Crating also prevents your puppy from starting undesirable behaviors - like learning to chew the couch when they get anxious because you left for work and after a few days to months this becomes a habit, or learning to counter surf when no one is watching ?

I could go on and on...

Sound familiar to!

So hopefully if you can see all these benefits you can feel less guilty about crating your puppy who does need a lot of rest and down time for healthy development. Babies need naps, lots of them, especially after a lot of stimulation or play which for very young puppies could be just something as simple as saying hi to a few new people out on your 5-10 minute walk. And hopefully you can really understand why structure and schedule are so important for any puppy under 1 year of age!

Helpful puppy rules to know:

Exercise rules LESS IS MORE

It can be very tempting to just tire out your puppy, but developmentally they can only have so much exercise as their joints are developing. SO

Generally your puppy can walk for five minutes for every month of their age, twice per day. So your 2 month old puppy can go for up to a10 minute walk twice a day.

How long can your puppy "hold it"

Generally your puppy can hold it for one hour for every month of age. For example, a two-month-old puppy can hold it for about two hours.

So you want a plan in action to help your puppy get on a potty schedule that works for them, and over time increase the amount of time they can hold it so they also develop bladder control.

If you haven't heard already I will be hosting group puppy classes over at VRCCE in Cape Elizabeth where we can get you and your puppy off on the right paw, get you on a great schedule, and start teaching skills that will help you and your puppy throughout your life together so you can both be as successful as possible.

You can sign up for puppy classes at

Hope to see you there with your puppies! Otherwise hope this article was helpful!

-Val & Lewen <3

Valerie works with dogs of all breeds and temperaments and focuses on teaching dogs to want to make the choices that we want them to without causing conflict. For their sake as well as yours!

She believes in building deep trust and connection with the animals she works with and has found that this is always the final ingredient in a successful partnership. She offers private in home training, virtual lessons, online courses, and group classes over at VRCCE in Cape Elizabeth.

To find out more about Valerie you can visit her About page at

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