Early Socialization and Puppy Potty Training to Help a Jack Russell Terrier Named Olive

By: David Codr

Published Date: December 16, 2016


Olive is a ten-week-old Jack Russell Terrier who was brought home to Omaha for the first time the day before our session. I worked with her guardians and their other dog, a nervous Jack Russell named Huxley a few months ago so they set up a puppy training session to make sure they got off on the right foot together.

They had two primary concerns; first that Huxley was playing too roughly with the puppy and seemed almost infatuated with her. The second concern was the possibility of Huxley’s anxious behaviors transferring to the pup.

Huxley was animated when I arrived for the session so I spent a few monies working to calm him down so he could relax and allow me to work with Olive. It took a couple of minutes, lots of treats and a cow’s ear, but soon enough Huxley was content to lay on his perch and get a good chew in.

Because Olive started to do the pity dance as soon as we got started, I started things off with some potty training tips and suggestions.

A few additional potty training secrets:

  • Puppies do not achieve consistent bladder control until 12 weeks so that is the soonest you could possibly expect a pup to be able to be house trained. This is why you should plan on taking a young pup out at least once every hour.
  • Most puppies achieve house training around five months of age.
  • Never scold a pup for eliminating in front of you, even if its inside. This often makes potty training more difficult as it causes the pup to avoid alerting human when they need to go and instead find a place to hide and eliminate.
  • Focus on positive potty training; rewarding for successful eliminations.
  • The three times puppies are most apt to need to go; 10 minutes after the start of a play session, 15 minutes after eating and immediately after waking up. Taking Olive outside after any of these three times will help accelerate the puppy potty training process.
  • If puppy is occupied doing something, then suddenly stops and starts sniffing around or walking in circles, it likely needs to go.
  • If a puppy is occupied then suddenly gets up and runs across the room unprovoked, this often means the pup needs to have a solid bowel movement.
  • A good bedtime strategy during puppy potty training is to stop feeding the pup at least three hours before bed and to remove water access an hour prior to turning in for the night.

After wrapping up the potty training, I turned my attention to Olive’s current state of development. Puppies go thought a few Fear Periods. During these periods, puppies are susceptible to single event learning where one single experience can impact and stay with the dog for the rest of its life.

During a fear period, you want to avoid taking any chances on activities and encounters that may not be positive.

Currently Olive is in one of the last Fear Periods, known as the Critical Socialization Period (CSP). This lasts from 3 to 12 or 14 weeks and during this time, exposure to new people, animals and experiences is crucial. I posted a detailed article on the importance of this time in the Quest Ed section of the website. You can check out the CSP article with this link.

Its a safe bet that the family’s other dog Huxley did not have a productive CSP and as a result he is very cautious and anxious around people and situations he is not very familiar with. The bottom line is the more exposure and experiences the family expose Olive to, the more confident, calm and relaxed she will be when around new things for the rest of her life. I posted a list of Critical Socialization Period experiences on the CSP article link above.

The CSP is time that her family will never get back as a pup only goes through it once. I strongly recommended that they family download the checklist and create a new column where they can add a “low,” “medium” and “high” value. That way they can prioritize the list and get Olive exposed to things that have a higher likely hood of encountering as she grows up.

As I was wrapping up the CSP discussion, the family’s mother asked if this would help Olive avoid the fearful reaction to the vacuum cleaner that Huxley did. The short answer is YES. But I had the guardian pull out the vacuum cleaner so I could explain in greater detail.

As you can see in the above video, the approach was even working for Huxley, despite the fact he was already fearful of the vacuum.

But this is a great example of how spending a little time now will prevent a lifetime of headaches with Olive later.

Next I went over some puppy play tips to ensure that things don’t get out of hand when Huxley and Olive are playing together.

  • Dont let the dogs play too roughly. Stopping them when they start to get excited and giving them a doggy time out until they calm down will help them learn and acceptable play level.
  • If either dog tries to move away and the other doesn’t stop, it will be important that the humans intercede.
  • Signs of distress from rough play include: whining, moving away and air nipping.
  • Humans need to avoid playing too roughly with the puppy too. The humans are basically teaching the pup how to play so they need to keep that in mind as they can help it develop softer play style by playing that way themselves.

I also suggested the family ask Olive to sit before petting her or giving a treat. This is a super simple act that will pay off long term. I also recommended taking the pup out as much as possible and to have treats. That way anyone who wants to pet the pup can give a treat instead (after she sits for it). We call it Manding when a dog does something to earn praise or a reward. Getting Olive into habit of sitting in front of anyone before they pet her will go a long ways towards helping her develop good manners.

I finished things up by showing the family how to get Olive to come to them as well as how to sit. It only  took a minute for her to pick up on each exercise so this is one smart pup.

I recommended that they enroll Olive in the Dog Gone Problem’s Puppy Socialization class and also go to Youtube and look for easy commands and tricks to teach her. Despite many rumors to the contrary, puppies can be taught. In face their little brains are like sponges at this age as they are hungry to learn and develop. Seizing this window where the dog wants to learn allows proactive dog guardians to really accelerate their puppy’s learning and intelligence.

By the end of the session, the humans know what to watch for when the dogs were playing together, Olive was sitting and coming on command and Huxley was even approaching the vacuum cleaner!


  • Take Olive out once an hour as well as after the three times she is most apt to go.
  • Removing food and water access prior to bed.
  • Set a goal of teaching Olive at least one new trick or command a week for the next 3 months.
  • Download and prioritize the Critical Socialization Period checklist from this page.
  • Expose Olive to the CSP activities on the list that she is most likely to encounter later in life.
  • Invest as much time as possible in socialization experiences for Olive for the next 2-4 weeks.
  • Avoid exposing Olive to any people, animal or experience where there may be a negative result. Wait until after she is 14 weeks if there is any doubt how the encounter may go.
  • Invite as many guests as possible over so that Olive gets used to meeting and interacting with new people positively for the next 2-4 weeks.
  • Consult the Quest Ed section  of our website to find over 100 puppy training tips via puppy training tutorial videos devoted to various socialization, training and behavior development.
  • Intercede if any play between Huxley and Olive gets too intense. Wait for both dogs to settle down before allowing play to continue.
  • Enroll Olive into our Puppy Socialization Class
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Categorized in:

This post was written by: David Codr

Follow Us via Email