It has been two weeks now (I think…time is blurry these days) since we became puppy owners. Here are my thoughts on life with a puppy. First, she is a perfect little fit for our family. The kids are having so much fun with her and are learning all kinds of new aspects of responsibility. She’s pretty cute. However, a puppy is a busy little thing. She likes to chew on everything and potty training is slow going. We’ve had a few trial and error ways regarding puppy care and kids. At first everyone was expected to chip in. That didn’t work so well because evidently everyone was the ‘one who took care of her last’. So, now we are on a daily system. And…it is working so much better. Each day a different kid is in charge of Arley’s care. That means taking her out, feeding her and cleaning up any messes. If they forget to take her out, she makes a mess and they have to clean it. As a result, they are starting to remember to take her out and take more responsibility. When the kids are gone and I am in charge…not so good, I get distracted and forget. I’m looking forward to when she gets this ‘going outside’ business figured out and lets us know. Feel free to share any of your puppy potty training tips!

I can see how people say puppies are a lot of work if you aren’t home all day. Arley gets attention all day long from all 5 kids. She gets worn out. I can’t imagine trying to burn all her energy if the kids were only home a couple of hours. I would not be able to keep up with her. Thankfully, she’s got 5 kids.

She likes to help me spray paint everything.

ISO 100, 1/1000, f/3.2

When we thought about getting a dog, we had visions of this…

ISO 100, 1/250, f/3.210.14arley2-02ISO 100, 1/320, f/3.210.14arley2-03ISO 100, 1/200, f/4.010.14arley2-04ISO 100, 1/200, f/4.010.14arley2-05I also have visions of my dog not trying to eat my chickens. I’ve done more reading up on raising puppies with chickens than I have on potty training puppies. So far things are going good. Please Arley, don’t decide you want to eat my chickens.

ISO 100, 1/200, f/4.010.14arley2-06ISO 100, 1/1000, f/3.510.14arley2-07

And life with 5 kids means she finds sunny spots and takes lots of naps.

ISO 100, 1/4000, f/1.410.14arley2-08So, life with a puppy has been busy and sweet. For all extra work, it has been worth it watching the sheer delight she brings the kids. Someday potty-training will not be a part of my life….it’s been 10 years, I’m a little over it!

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  • Sudeshna - Hi..Its really nice to watch Arley’s growing up. I have a Doberman named JOJO.. We just everyday used to take him to a same place for potty and that was enough. after one month he used to go there all by his own. Even sometimes we had to use choke chain to train him, then also he used to bark only until we take him to that same place for potty. and I watched all episodes of Dog Whisperer by Cesar Millan and it was really helpful to know his psychology and fun watching too. I hope Arley will be good with Chickens too. But if she is introduced to the Chickens in this early age and play sometimes then there will be lesser risk of biting them I think :)

  • Andrea - I have a German Shepherd, Amelia. For Potty training her, I put bells on the door handle we use to go outside, and everytime I took her out I would ring the bells then open the door. Took her to the same spot every time, told her the same words (Bathroom in this case, others use potty) and as soon as she went praised her and gave her a treat.

    After a bit, I would take her to the door when I think she needed to go, wait for her to ring the bells (and if it wasn’t forth coming, ring them myself) and then repeat the process above.

    Once she starts ringing the bells on her own you need to immediately drop what you’re doing and let her out to reinforce going outside and not have her get frustrated.

    It took about 3 weeks to get her house trained.

  • Meryl - We had good luck with bell training. You should google it to get the full idea, but basically you teach the dog to ring a bell (hung on the door) when he needs to go out. It’s makes a good, unmistakeable signal that’s hard to ignore. Good luck!

  • Leah - If you notice there is a spot she favours in the house when she makes a mess, try moving her bed or food dish to that spot. It helped with our dogs as they don’t like to mess where they eat or sleep.

  • Liane - I’ve got a nearly five month old Border Collie. She has SO much energy that I can barely keep up with her! I’ve found with regards to potty training that using the same command every time helps. I take her out and tell her to ‘go wee wee’ and she nine times out of ten goes.. We still have the odd accident in the house but overall she is starting to get it.

    I love these photos of Arley! He is so cute and it looks like your kids are totally in love!

  • Susan - Arley is adorable. We have a beagle who fortunately took to training very simply; our Jack Russell trained him. Therefore, he picked up both good and not so good habits. Mine have not been around chickens, but I doubt they would bother them. Both breeds seem more intent to irradiated the rodent population- from moles and voles to rabbits. One thing I did not expect from the beagle is the shedding. Though his hair is short and smooth, he sheds more than our Scruffy the rough coat JR. I advise you get a soft bristle dog brush and get Arley used to being groomed. Oh and toenail clippers for dogs are very important to keep the sharp nails from hurting anyone.
    Best wishes to Arley and family!

  • Stacy - I have a beagle, and he, unfortunately, never got the hang of going outside to go potty. We finally just had to make him an all outside dog, even though we really wanted him to be inside a lot.

    Beagles are so cute, but we learned the hard way that they are bred for instinct and not brains. Not sure how she’ll do with the chickens as she gets older. Our beagle thinks our cats are just big lazy rabbits that need to be chased and barked at.

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - It IS loads of work, but it will always be the best decision you could ever make! All of our kids have their own pups except for our seven year old, ’cause, oh my gosh, we have 5 already! Bless his heart! But, we’ll let him have his own in a couple more years. Seeing the relationship that forms between a child and his/her pet is nothing short of wondrous! So very happy that y’all took the plunge and got that precious puppy!

  • Jody - Every 30 min take pup outside. “Go potty” same command every time & treat her.

    Soon she will be potty trained!!! Yay!!!! ( sorry is your pup boy or girl?) anyways have fun!!!!! Dogs+kiddos=happiness

  • Tera - When we were training our golden retriever to not chew on things, we got a spray called “bitter apple spray”. This was years ago, so I don’t even know if it exists anymore. It was great. She would chew on the bottom of a cabinet, spray the bitter apple stuff there, didn’t chew it again! We also read the book Golden Retrievers For Dummies and it was spot on with our dog. Maybe there’s a beagles for dummies book?! I can’t even tell you how perfect that book was for potty training, chewing, crate training, everything! Good luck!

  • Kristen - Arley looks like such a sweet girl! When our chocolate lab was a puppy, we took her out at regular times each day (usually before or after a meal, and before or after play time, and right after a long nap) and used the word, “potty”. Then if she went, we’d say super-enthusiastically, “Good potty!!!!” and give her a treat right away. Thankfully she caught on pretty quick what that meant, and now (she’s 6), we just ask her, “potty?” and if she has to go she walks to the back door to be let out. Good luck! I’m sure you will get in a rhythm soon! :)

  • Amy - We also used the bell hanging on the door method. We also would start with taking him out every 20 mins and then add more and more time if we had no accidents. When our springer had an accident inside we would tell him “we go potty OUTSIDE” and then take him out and put in the yard. It didn’t take too long and we got past that. It will happen. Stay positive. :)

  • Erin - For potty when it’s just you, set a timer on your phone to remind you to take her out and take her to the exact same spot in the yard every time. And, unfortunately, you really do have to watch her constantly. If you can’t be right with her out her in a crate or a baby gate.
    If you have a Puppy Preschool level obedience class close by I highly recommend it. Obviously, you are doing great on the puppy/human socialization front but socializing them with other dogs is really important too because they are missing out on lots of learning they are supposed to get from their litter mates on how to act around other dogs. And there should also be an aspect of owner preschool as well. We took our dog as much for us to learn stuff like how to stop biting and chewing as it was for her to learn. Plus we got to play with other people’s tiny puppies. Cute noverload every Thursday night. Have you ever seen a 10 week old French Bulldog puppy? Oh. My. Gosh.

  • Katie T - The best thing we did when training our dog to go outside was hang a string of jingle bells on the door handle, long enough for him to nudge (and jingle) with his nose. Every time we took him outside to potty, we would nudge the bells before we opened the door. Now, when he needs to go, he rings the bells so we all know he needs outside! Just don’t let the cat figure it out or you will be hearing bells ALL THE FREAKING TIME!!!

  • katie T - Oops, maybe I should read the previous comments before I post my ingenious ones!!!

  • Beth Ann - We trained all of our four-legged friends using a crate. It was difficult because we wanted to snuggle them all day, but in the end it worked. How we did it was the puppy stayed in the crate (only big enough for them to lay down and turn around in), when they come out they immediately go outside. Once they do their business they get to play for a little bit then back in the crate. And then repeat. Most dogs won’t go to the bathroom where they sleep/rest unless they are left in the crate for too long. The rule of thumb is 1 hr between bathroom for every month they are. So if they are 2 months they should be able to go about 2 hours in between bathroom breaks if they are in the crate. We had a beagle as a kid. He was the dumbest, most high energy, sweetest, lovey dog.

  • Christy - This has nothing to do with potty training, but I wanted to share a few other tips with you. We have 3 dogs who are like our kids.

    - Our vet recommended we give our pups baby carrots for treats. They LOVE them! I think part of the fun is the crunch, but it also feels good to know that we’re giving them something healthy.
    - You can add pumpkin to Arley’s food for extra fiber if you notice her scooting her bottom on the floor a lot.
    - You can also add green beans to her food if she seems hungry even after eating her food. The green beans are filling, healthy, and have few calories.

    Just a few tips, but they have made our lives much easier!

  • Mary reynolds - Bell training! We were told to keep the dog in her crate at all times except when playing with her. With three kids, and two puppy-loving parents, she was out A Lot! Whenever anyone wanted to play with her, they had to bump her nose on the bells and take her outside to go FIRST. then, she would come inside and play, then go back in the crate. Out dog trained quickly, with only three accidents. As she grew, and the door was left open, she would mosy on over to the bells herself. They go through a bit of a stage where they ring the bells all the time, but you just have to follow through. That stage goes away!

  • christina larsen - Glad you are enjoying Arley…puppies are sweet and a lot of work. We’ve had two puppies that we have raised to dogs. The best advice that I can give is to kennel train her if you aren’t already doing this. Dogs need to have a safe place (cave like) that they can retreat. Also, when you can’t or the kids can’t give Arley their “undivided” attention then she needs to be put in her kennel so she will have less opportunity to get into things and chew or potty. Also, you can use a clicker (noise maker for training purposes) I have a couple that I can bring you on Sunday. In theory you are conditioning their behavior. When Arley does something right you click the clicker and give her a treat. Start with little soft treats (the tinier the better) just something small to make that connection for her. She does something right, click, treat. All has to be quick so she makes the connection. She potties outside, click, treat. “yeah Arley, good girl”. You won’t always have to do the treat, you can add praise or pets. But for a young puppy the treat is very important. The clicker is great for having her learn tricks and good behavior like sit, stay, come, roll over, etc. Hope this helps. You might already be doing this, if you are great it will pay off. If not, give it a try. I can come over if you like and give a little tutorial. I don’t mind. Good luck!

  • Sarah - Bell training worked for our little chihuahua/terrier mix. Just hang a bell on the door you take her out most often. Every time you take her out to go potty she hears the bell. After awhile they learn to associate the two and now she rings the bell herself when she needs to go. Consistency is key and unfortunately you have to take puppies outside A LOT at first. Also, fruits and veggies are great healthy treats, our pup loves them all, especially apples, carrots, tomatoes, nectarines, cucumbers, lettuce, watermelon and mango. Crate training also worked for us. In the crate when we were out and at night, she did not sleep in our bed or stay out in the house alone until she was 2 and now she loves her crate as well, which makes traveling a lot easier. Good luck, it is well worth it!

  • christian - positive reinforcement works the best (just like with kiddos ;) ). bells hung on the back door are what we use. ring the bells for her, open the door. do it consistently before letting her out and she’ll get it quickly. for chewing, we have lots and lots of dog toys and bones in every room. you’ve got to catch her in the act, take whatever she is chewing away and immediately replace it with on of her toys. praise her like crazy every time she gets it right. it takes a lot of effort with puppies, but she’s young enough that hopefully you can extinguish bad habits for good. good luck!

  • Tricia H - Write down her schedule! (Especially with so many people involved.) You’ll see a pattern emerge very soon. (Note her feeding times as well as when she pees and poops.) The general rule of thumb is that every time there is a change in activity level, a dog needs to “go”. So, for example, when she first wakes up in the morning (or after a nap), immediately go outside. At the end of a long play session, walk her. After eating, walk her. Get in the habit of walking her before you leave the house.

    Take her to the same general area and let her eliminate there. Pick up after her frequently so it is clean. When you take her to her area, don’t play or excite her. Just let her sniff around and get her job done. Always, Praise – Praise – Praise her when she goes appropriately. THEN play with her or feed her or whatever. Let her figure out that good things happen after she goes!

    Keep an eye on her in the house. Generally speaking, when a dog doesn’t know how to signal she has to go out, she’ll look for a quiet spot to eliminate. So, just like having kids, if it’s too quiet or you haven’t seen her in 10 minutes or more, time to go find her and look for any “surprises”! Contain her to one, easy to clean area, when she can’t be supervised. And gradually expand that area as she learns to keep that area free of “accidents”. (Ex-pens are great for this if you have an open floor plan.)

    And remember, once she has learned this in regards to the house, you can transfer this knowledge to the camper/RV. (There’s a lot more I can tell you about traveling with pets. Let me know if/when you want to know more.)

    Good Luck!

  • Amy - I agree with the other comments that bell training is effective. Our shepherd mix ended up abusing the system and the bell had to eventually go lol. He’d hit it every two minutes. But by that point he knew to go potty outside and it wasn’t a problem to just go out by our schedule. Also agree that our dogs love carrots as treats. Also, if you use treats as positive reinforcement, we like the Vitakraft yogurt drops. They’re small enough that it’s not bad to give a few each day and our dogs love them.

  • Jillian - Cheerios were our potty training trick. Whenever we took our puppies out, we grabbed a couple cheerios. When they did their business they would immediately get a cheerio and lots of praise. They caught on pretty quickly. Both our dogs love cheerios, and they’re the only treats we buy. (SO CHEAP!)

  • Brittany - Hi Ashley! this is my first comment ever on here, but as I’ve recently gone through the puppy phase I figured I could offer some fresh insight!

    Potty training is a pain, but you’ll get there! The best advice we took was hanging some bells on the doorknob. I thought it seemed silly, but we tried it. We batted the bells with his paw or nose every time we took him out. Pretty soon he was going over and ringing the bells whenever he wanted out! That’s not to say he knew it meant “i need to go potty!” every time, but that came along once he realized he wanted to go potty outside and knew how to ask. As for knowing when to go out, just take them frequently and praise them with a treat when they do it right.

    As far as beagles go – my roommate in college had one. He was so smart. He learned every trick in the book in no time… except “come.” He would follow his nose anywhere and was chased around the neighborhood a time or two. So make sure that command is a priority!

    The best training books EVER are the Dr. Ian Dunbar ‘Before you get your puppy’ and ‘After you get your puppy.’ Both are full of really great training tips using positive reinforcement. Worked wonders for us!
    Good Luck!

  • Jessica - I trained my dog to ring bells on the door when she needs to go potty, that way she can let me know when she needs to go out. The best part it is was a really easy skill to train. When she was a puppy I hung 3 bells on ribbon around the door and every time we went out side I would ring the bells and then bring her nose to the bells as well so she could ring them. I choose a command word for going out side, we call it “go park”. So I would say “Bella do you have to go park?” I did this each and every time we went outside to go to the bathroom and she eventually got the hang of it. Its best to choose 1 door in your house and have that be the door you use each time you take her out. She is 5 years old now and have moved homes a few times and she still uses her bells to let us know when she needs to go out! I am expecting my first baby in a month and I think this is especially going to come in handy when I am busy and distracted with a new baby.

  • sarah - Just want to second having a command go along with the potty, like “go potty” because then she learns to potty on command (much like you teach kids to be able to potty when it’s convenient and not always when they need to like before going to the store, etc.). Of course lots of praise for when she does it right, and compassion when she gets it wrong :)

  • Kelly - I’m not great with potty training tips but I’m curious as to how Arley will be as a runaway. Beagles are notorious for following their noses. Our 10 year old beagle has run off way too many times.

  • Krystle Detwiler - We are also new puppy owners! My best tip is to start training early! Our little 12 week old Mini Aussie amazes us at how many commands/tricks he can do already- all it takes is a couple 10 minute sessions a day… and lots of training treats! :)
    Good luck!! :)

  • Amy - I grew up with a beagle and chickens :) She once malled one over by chasing it too much, but she never tried to eat them. They were too boring when there were rabbits and other things to chase. Beagles are so cute and full of energy!

  • Tanya - Your puppy is SOOOO cute! My potty-training advice is the same as Beth Ann’s: crate/kennel training. We have two beagles and we wanted to play with them non-stop as well, but really, putting them in their crate until they go is the fastest way to train them. You just have to be consistent: crate, potty-break: 1) if they go: treats and play time, 2) if they don’t: back in their kennel for 1/2 hour. And restart the process over and over again. It’s hard (especially on the kids who want to play), but there are numerous perks to kennel training besides just potty-training. It’s nice for dogs to have a safe place to call their own. Eventually they may need some time away from the kids and having their own “home” will be a nice place to go for some downtime when they are overstimulated. Also, if you are out of town without her, it’s nice that your dog has a familiar crate to stay whether she stays at your house or at someone else’s place. Have fun! I love seeing the pictures!

  • Kristin - Dogs are ALL about routine. So for potty training it needs to be the same time & the same routine each day until she just knows that’s what to do at that time & it will work on you & the kids too. You just get to know that every morning first thing the dog goes out, after morning class the dog goes out, again after lunch & then before dinner & finally before bedtime. Routine. The other tip is first thing dogs need to do at the start of the day is go potty so you carry her our & set her down in the grass so she knows the feeling of wet cool grass means it’s time to go potty. No distractions.

    Oh and another tip unrelated to potty training, almost all dogs go through a stage where they want to chew WOOD. Specifically wood for some odd reason which for me always seemed to be window frames, base boards, chair legs. So I learned if I let them have sticks, even in the house sometimes, it saved tons of unnecessary damage & I just had to vacuum daily. Sure we had other chew toys & things for them but they’d ignore 10 toys & chew up my chair legs until I let them have sticks.

  • Kaitlyn - My favorite thing to do is give unsolicited advice on puppy rearing. I did a lot of research before getting a puppy (my family never had dogs!) and we’ve been very happy with how it’s gone so I love giving advice. Luckily you’re asking.

    We too did bell training as others have suggested, but I find that as my pup got older she started to use the bell as an excuse to get attention which made it ineffective. The best strategy for poddy training I found was really simple. A Schedule. Keep the pup on a schedule and you will always be able to anticipate them needing to go out. For example, we feed our pup at 7AM, a half hour later she goes out for a pee. Puppies will always need to go a half hour after eating, and usually after a nap. When you’re on your own you could set a timer or alarm on your phone and take her out a half hour after feeding, and every two hours after that. Eventually you won’t need to be so strict because she’ll tell you when she needs to go and will hold her bladder longer. Never feed your puppy after 7PM if you want to avoid going out at night.

    As for the chickens, my pup doesn’t have the same prey drive a beagle might, but I would suggest putting her in a controlled situation around the chickens once per day where she is on a leash and every time she tries to interact with the chicken tell her no firmly. If she sits quietly or looks at you instead of the chicken, click and reward (or just reward, but clicker training makes everything so much easier). Eventually she will get that she isn’t allowed to interact with the chickens, and she is rewarded for ignoring them. Boundries are very important!

    As a second note on potty training and unwanted chewing, it really helps to give your pup only limited access to the house through the use of baby gates. We kept our pup in a kitchen and hallway for the first couple of months, and she was only allowed out of that area when supervised or on a leash. That way they learn that they don’t own the rest of the house, it belongs to you, and they won’t chew your furniture or belongings because they know they’re yours. This also helps teach boundries so your pup wont try to sneak through fences or that kind of thing.

    Also, I should mention that it took a little over six months for me to calm down and for life to feel normal having a puppy. They are exhausting! I can’t believe I was so stressed when all she did back then was sleep. Now she has way more energy and it no longer bothers me. ;)

    So happy for your family! A pup can add so much joy to your life.

    I highly recommend taking part in a group puppy training to help with socialization and so all the kids can see the proper ways of handling puppies and helping with training. I also love the book The Art of Raising a Puppy by the Monks of New Skete.

    OK, that’s it, haha. Hope some of this is helpful! Congrats again!

  • Leiann - We are another one who used jingle bells on the door plus kennel trained our puppy. We weren’t doing either at first and were trying to use a potty pad but after taking him to puppy classes, the instructor told us that the dog was confused as to where he was supposed to go potty. The jingle bells worked really well. We are not home during the day so we had to keep the puppy in a kennel which was tough, but everyone swears that it really, really helps with potty training. Maybe you should try that, even though you are home. Plus a little alone time for her might be a good thing so she knows that she will not always have attention on her. :)
    Good luck! It gets easier. My mom swears up and down that having a puppy is harder than a newborn baby.

  • Lisa - Adorable puppy!! I got my very first puppy (a little yorkie) as a grown up, so all things puppy were completely new to me. I did the following….

    1) My puppy was only a month old and she was TINY, so I quickly realized that if I wasn’t playing directly with her, she would easily disappear (translation – pee or poop where I couldn’t see it happen), so I ended up buying a pack n play (baby play pen) and essentially, for the first little while, if I wasn’t sitting on the ground playing with her, she was in there (& she of course had a bed, toys, puppy pads, etc.). Arley may be too old/big for this tactic now, but it worked wonders for me. You could always (baby)gate off an area for when the kids aren’t home and she is just hanging out alone? Just a thought. That would give enough space, but keep A contained.

    2) I started the potty training with puppy pads. When she was out of the play pen and I was actually sitting on the ground playing with her, I would have a puppy pad close by, and every 10 minutes or so, I would put her on the pad and say “go potty”. Naturally she would walk off, but I would continue to put her right back on until eventually she would go (sometimes this process went quickly, other times it took a while, but she ALWAYS eventually went). Immediately upon going I would say “good girl” and I would give her a treat. We worked on this tactic for a solid month, all while moving the puppy pad closer and closer to the door, until finally the puppy pad got swapped to taking her outside (with longer stints of playing in between) and doing the same “go potty” – then treat routine. It was a long and involved process, for sure, but it worked (the whole thing probably took 2 months) and she has not been a “accident having” dog because of it. She now runs to the door when she has to go. If I don’t see her, she will literally run to me and lure me to the door. Genius!

    Since it seems that Arley is already going outside, you probably don’t want to go back to puppy pads (although, it could come in handy….having one inside for those moments that you say you forget or get sidetracked). Regardless, using this tactic while taking Arley outside should work great too. You just have to do it regularly and be diligent.

    Hope this helps!


  • Cassie - Don’t be discouraged about how long it takes to potty train! People tend to forget how long it took them to train and it really is longer than you would have thought! We got a puppy last year, and he is actually a super good puppy compared to what I’ve heard, and it took him about 3 full months before we were fully confident in him not peeing in the house. Hard – but only 3 months in the big picture is not long!

    The best thing we taught our puppy was that he is not the alpha male in the house. One way we established this was made it very clear that he was not allowed somewhere in the house that everyone else could go (we chose the bathroom). This taught him that he wasn’t in charge and it’s really helped in so many other aspects! It was a trick our breeder taught us and I’m so glad we stuck with it!

    Good luck with the training! Just remember that the more work you put in now makes for a better dog over the years! It’s so worth it!

  • Angela - We used bitter apple spray for Rio and she stopped chewing really quickly! It has no odor and is harmless for your kiddos and the dog, it just tastes bad. Cesar Milan is a little New Age-y in his language, but his methods work. We read his book Puppyhood and Beyond before we got Rio and she trained easily. We don’t use bells because, personally, that would annoy me, but she goes out on verbal command: “Go potty, Rio.” or “Go outside, Rio?”

  • Karen Choat - We have four dogs, did have five but lost our beloved 13 year old boxer recently. We could not manage without our dog door but even that does not help the first few months. When ours were babies I felt like I had a real baby. Every hour or so without fail even at night. Always when they wake up from a nap before they even wake up good, always right after eating or drinking or treats and then again every hour or so. Eventually it just clicks. We had pulled up all the carpet years ago because all those muddy paws were just too stressful. Now it is just muddy prints, let them dry and sweep them up. So having a hard surface floor is a must so you do not stress about the “accidents”. I also knew that this was a baby and if we did not make it out in time it was our fault, not the pups. I have found that relaxing standards about most everything is the trick. I receive so much love and joy and love my dogs so much that I can just laugh about the messes, just like with children. One other hint that I remind everyone is that if we are leaving the house anything that is left in reach of the dogs is fair game. They do not know good shoes, favorite toys, etc. It is all just theirs in their minds.

  • Samantha - When we potty trained our puppy, we took her out every hour, so that she never felt like she needed to go inside. She soon preferred to go outside and was potty trained in two weeks! Those first couple of weeks you just really have to keep an eye on her, so that when you see her start sniffing around or about to go, you rush her outside. But frequency is key. We also go lucky that she slept through the night and didn’t go, but we had to take her out the second we woke up.

  • Mann - I have a black labrador and lots of free-ranging chickens everywhere. (And cattle behind the fence. And goats.) I don’t know what Arley is like but I can share what we did with our Mocha, our lab.

    With chickens it took mostly time and consistency. For the first few months she kept wanting to chase them and “mouth” them, but we kept telling her off, again and again and again. Sometimes I took her walking around the chickens on a leash so I could have more control over her, so when she tried catching the chickens then she got pulled back, and when she walked next to me nicely then she was getting treats.

    She mostly stopped chasing the chickens by the time she was 6 months old, and almost entirely stopped when she was 1 year old. Now she will run towards them playfully, but she doesn’t chase and doesn’t “mouth”. And the chickens have learned, too, not to get in her way.

    With potty training: we bought a metal crate, a cage basically. Because dogs generally don’t like pooping where they sleep then we shut her in the crate overnight: I’d let her out one last time at about 10 pm and then put her in her crate. In the morning I would let her out at about 5:30-6 am and as she was excitedly dooing her first wee of the day, I would give her a treat and tell her how good she was. Then after a little while playing outside I’d put her back in the crate, and let her out in about 2 hours – again, as she straight away went for a wee I would treat her.

    She got the hang of it within a few days and was totally potty-trained within about 2 weeks. She wasn’t getting as much exercise as she was wanting due to being put in her crate several times a day, but because it meant that her potty training went so fast then it meant that after those 2 weeks we could pretty much leave her to wonder around the house all the time because she only pooped/weed outside.

    I think they call it “crate training” or something, but I didn’t actually read any books on the topic, I just went by my gut feeling that a dog won’t poop where she sleeps and went from there.

  • Debbie - I am cracking up because I don’t have a puppy but I have a cat who must think she is a puppy and has many “accidents” that I have to clean up. I am reading these tips thinking some may work for my cat. HA! :-) Having a dog seems to suit you guys. Congrats!

  • kate - my sister crate trained and strongly suggested it to us… we gave it a go and it was the best decision we made as pet owners. we have 2 aussies..they are now five and although we no longer have a crate, we can say the word crate and they run to the house and lay down where it was when they were pups.. I’ve seen success in this training repeatedly… good luck!

  • Juice - I highly suggest reading The Latchkey Dog by Andersen. Great info and an entertaining book as well. You won’t regret it.

  • Lucy - Ohmygosh! Too too cute!
    When we got our puppy (now officially in old-grouch dog stage!), we put a little bundle of bells on the doorknob to outside. Then, whenever we let him out we would hit and ring them, the idea being that he would learn to hit the bells himself (it took some extending ribbon until he was tall enough).

    This totally worked! And though I know that is no guarantee of it working or making any sense for your family, but I had to share.
    Good Luck!

  • Ashley - Spay!!!

  • Melissa V - Okay – some are going to say this is harsh however, Beagles are hunters and you have to get thru to them that the birds are OFF LIMITS! So, ours were scruffed and roughly (not harshly or abuse like but enough to get their attention) dumped on their backs EVERYTIME they made a move towards the ducks and chickens. Both our beagles are completely trustworthy with the birds BUT NOT with the neighbors cats or any wild rabbits (or the few times our pet rabbits have gotten loose)because they were never taught those were off limits. Honestly, I praise them when they chase the wild rabbits who chew my apple and mulberry trees and when they dig up moles/voles/gophers. We just taught them what their “job” was. The trick is you have to be consistent EVERY SINGLE TIME! And you cannot leave her alone with them ever while you are training her.
    As for the potty training……she’s a beagle….it takes a while longer. Have you tried the bell on the door? Teach her to ring a bell on the door when she wants to go out (although, she may use it when she’s bored just to get something to do…..Beagles can be smart like that) They are such loving dogs with people that the negative breed traits are pretty easy to live with!

  • Lisa - I don’t know that this will help quite yet with potty training, but maybe in a few weeks time…but we have a bell on our door that our dog rings whenever she needs to go out. This is mostly because we can’t see our back door from our main living area, so once we was trained to go outside, she would ring the bell. It was a nice way to teach her not to bark or scratch at the door when she wanted out. When we were potty training her we would just take her paw and ring the bell with it whenever we took her out. Then if she ever even accidentally rang the bell we would go open the door and make her go out. So she learned the connection of the 2 quickly. I think it’s the best thing we’ve done as far as training our dog goes! Good luck your puppy is adorable!

  • Lisa K - We have a beagle who just turned one this week. My best suggestion for potty training is whenever your puppy wakes up from a nap take it out immediately. And any time you see it stop and sniff take it out. The best thing we did was put in a doggy door. As soon as we did, potty training was done! I know you don’t have a fence so that probably isn’t an option for you. With puppies you just have to take them out A LOT!!!! We gave lots of praise when potting happened outside. Beagles are smart. Oh, and I have no answers about the chewing. Ours chews EVERYTHING. We have lost more shoes and socks and toys to being chewed. We have to keep everything behind closed doors or it will get chewed. I’m hoping this too will pass….. :)

  • Ang - Ryan will be there this weekend. Just have him train Arley! :)

  • danielle - Your pictures make me want a puppy. I am banned from even looking at puppies since I will start squeeling and jumping up and down, begging my husband to pull over so we can get a puppy. Then I read your post and remember who would be training said puppy. Just like that I do not want a puppy :) Have fun!

  • Christine - For potty training (and for any tricks you want to teach her), look into clicker training. We used this method with all our 3 dogs and it really worked! This is the method we used: Good luck!!

  • Shanalea Atchison - So speaking as a beagle owner and a chicken owner…good luck. Unfortunately, Hershey (our beagle) likes chicken dead or alive and we lost at least two chickens due to her curiosity and sense of smell.

10.14tray-01Cold weather is approaching. For some, this means fall has arrived. For me, it marks the end of spray painting season. I’m taking advantage of the final days of warm weather to spray paint anything and everything. Typically, I make a stock pile of all the things I want to spray paint and then paint them all at once.

Over the weekend, I tackled several projects…one was giving a facelift to a few serving trays.


  • Wood trays – my grandpa made one, the black one was from a craft store
  • Spray Paint – I used White & Blue Ocean Breeze
  • Decoupage
  • Shelf liner or vinyl wallpaper (so they are waterproof) – mine are both retro finds
  • Scissors or an X-acto knife

Step 1: Spray paint your tray


Step 2: Cut your paper to size. I chose paper with a vinyl finish. This will allow me not to worry if anything wet gets on the trays or if something is spilled.

Step 3: Add decoupage to the tray and smooth out the paper.10.14tray-0510.14tray-0710.14tray-0910.14tray-10This was such a fast, fun and easy project using supplies I already had on hand. I’m thinking I need to make a few more this week…Happy Monday.

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  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - I just love adding beauty in unexpected places! These turned out great! Thanks for sharing!

  • angie - good morning… what a fun diy… love the retro coverings that you used… they turned out so cute! makes me want to go thrifting to find the perfect tray… thanks for sharing!

  • Cathy Shealy - Great project I love the tray with the fan pattern. Which one did your grandpa make?

  • Diana - These are adorable. Now I really want to make one!

  • amanda - These are so fun Ashely!!! Maybe next year we should put our piles together and have one big painting party!!!

  • AshleyAnn - Yes, Amanda! We definitely need to do that!!!

  • kimberly oyler - this is pretty cute.

  • Kerry - These are so fun — on my “to make someday” list ; )

  • meg duerksen - i love the yellow one!!! and i love the gummy toothy smile. and i can’t believe you got a puppy!!!! so so so cute. miss you like crazy girl.

  • Meghan - These came out great! I’m curious about the pinwheels that are nestled in that mason jar. Do you have a fun tutorial?

  • Deneen Pancari - I laughed about your comment..”For me, it marks the end of spray painting season” I enjoy looking at your IG feed and reading your blog! Chickens are awesome!!


I’m a semi-goal person. This means I like attainable goals, not ridiculous ones. I like checking things off lists. I like working hard towards something and achieving it. I consider myself a practical girl – reasonable, realistic. This plays into the goals I set. I make them reasonable and realistic…but ones that just don’t happen unless I work towards them.

Last spring I set a fitness goal. It was totally random and probably only makes sense to a handful of people. Some people set goals to run a 10K or a complete their first triathlon….I decided to work towards a muscle up on the rings. I was told by my Crossfit coach that it was a realistic goal for me. In a basic sense, a muscle up is a move where you go from hanging on the rings to supporting yourself above the rings. You can do this with a swing (kipping) or without a swing (strict). I’ve been working towards a kipping ring muscle up. My goal was to be able to do one by my birthday.


I’m pretty sure I’ve watched every online instructional video. I’ve tried countless exercises that build up to the muscle up. I’ve gotten a million tips from those that can do them. I’ve recorded my attempts and replayed them looking for what I need to change. I even bought rings so I could work on drills at home because I can’t exactly spend all day at my Crossfit gym.

My birthday was this week. No muscle up.

My coaches keep telling me it just needs to click in my head. Like riding a bike.

I learned to ride a bike really fast. I really want that clicking in my head to happen soon.

I’m used to setting goals, working hard and achieving them. This whole muscle up thing has drove me crazy. Instead of scanning Pinterest for crafts, I’m scanning it for muscle up tips. Seriously. I need to get this muscle up so I can return to hot glue guns and mod podge.

While I’ve been practicing, my boys have joined in too. My eight year old (pictured below) is pretty determined to do one too.

10.14rings-0210.14rings-0310.14rings-0410.14rings-0510.14rings-07When I showed up at the gym the morning of my birthday a good friend surprised me with balloons attached to Ring Pops – in honor of my ring muscle up goal. I didn’t meet my goal. On the way home, another friend called to ask me if I got it. She didn’t know what a muscle up was or why it was a big deal to me, but she knew it was and she was cheering me on. She also encouraged me and said she was sure I’d learn something from this experience and have a blog post to write about it – she knows me so well!

So, I didn’t meet my goal. I set a new one. My 8 year old made a wager with me if I can’t do it by Christmas. Christmas it is.

I may not have done a muscle up this week, but this week was a reminder of how fortunate I am to have good friends and family. People that love me enough to cheer me on even when I am doing something that doesn’t make any sense at all to them. As much as I would have liked to reach my goal, I’m thankful for the conversations I’ve had with my kids as a result of not reaching it. They’ve seen me doing strange drills from rings on the stairs, they’ve glanced over to see me doing dips on park benches and they’ve joined me in swinging all crazy from a tree. They watched me work hard and not make my goal. I’ve had to process my frustration in front of them and with them. It is easier to tell them to not give up and work hard…it is a lot harder to live it out in front of them. Harder, but better I think.

Now, they are going to watch me not give up and they’ll be the first to celebrate with me when I get it before Christmas. I’m going to get it. I am not letting my son win!


**I shot the images above from a really low angle, so he looks higher than he actually is.  Also, please no Crossfit controversy in the comments. That is not the point of this post. Thank you:)

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  • Liane - Those photos are amazing! Well done on not giving up on your goal! That’s my biggest problem, I get discouraged and give up so easily. Maybe I should take a leaf out of your book! :)

  • Paige - AWESOME post! Its so hard for me to let my kids experience failure, yet its such a huge life lesson. Even greater when they see us go through it. “In this life there will be trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” You can do it, Ashley!
    PS I’m so thankful I don’t know what the crossfit controversy is. Exercise in any form is so good for the body! We will need a picture of the gun show come Christmas!

  • Bernie - I didnt have my glasses on when I began reading, and I initially thought this post was about GOATS! I too, like to make lists, just to cross things off (in RED pen, of course)! If I do something that is not on my list, I write it down, just so I can cross it off. Good luck on your muscle up goal, but is it REALLY that important to you?

  • Carrie - I think it’s great that we can have serious goals and fun goals. The point is to be learning and trying new things, and I think that’s awesome. I’m 32, and my goal is to do a handstand someday. (And I know you are already the queen of those.) :)

  • Jennie - Your comment about scanning pinterest for muscle up tips made me smile, because ever since I started crossfit earlier this year, my craft room has been abandoned and my pinterest searches are 90% crossfit related. (I’m still working on strengthening my shoulders before I attempt a muscle up- great job on being so dedicated and close to your goal!)

  • christina larsen - hope you reach your goal. keep on swinging! :)

  • Heidi - Thank you for posting about a goal that didn’t happen! I’m working on a few (non-cross fit) related goals, and they’re proving super hard, and sometimes the internet feels a little discouraging because everyone is singing the praises of working hard and thereby accomplishing on schedule. Even though my goals are in a different realm, you’re hard work, determination, and trying again are encouraging! I hope it all clicks for you soon!

  • Elizabeth Highsmith - My brother has rings in his loft apartment. He tells me I need to be able to do one pull-up, “You’ve gotta be able to pull yourself up onto the helicopter in a crisis, otherwise you’re shark bate.” I’m shark bate you are so not! I’m going to pray you get it and praise Him when you do!

  • suzy - I know you did not achieve your goal, but congrats anyway! Congrats on being a great example for your kids of working hard and striving. Congrats on giving them an example of what it means to fail, but not give up completely. Congrats on being a good example in fitness and working through all of this with them. It is a great example and a victory of being encouraged by one another. Awesome!

  • Steph - Such a good point, working out frustration in front of kids must take some serious restraint and patience! A mutual learning experience :) Best of luck on your goal, what a cool and unexpected one it is!

  • Jenny - You Can Do It!!

  • Jill - i am sorry you did not reach your goal but glad to hear that you just reset the clock and are working towards it. i have been doing crossfit for two years and have never tried a muscle up ( just touched the rings for the first time a month ago, literately touched) they scare me so much but i know so many people, especially women and strong women, who have a very hard time with mu. i think its a mix of confidence and upper body strength as long as you keep working towards it you will get it!!

  • Karen - Setting goals is awesome! It’s a great example for your kids to see you work for it. I’m a runner and it took me a long time to reach a certain time I was shooting for. My kids were super proud of me when I did. I hope you both get the muscle up! I’m rooting for you!! Keep us posted on your progress!

  • Kim - In the meantime, you’re swinging and working those muscles! Yay!
    I am the child of a perfect mom. She could, and can do anything. I’ve never seen her fail….although now, as an adult, I realize there must have been tons of fails. She never shared that part of her. She never pushed me to be perfect, but her example did – and boy did it make me feel crappy to not live up to that standard. Again – good for you, you’re a great mom!!

  • Sarah - This verse was in my devotional this week,”Though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again” Prov 24:16. We’re works in progress, good for you for persevering!

  • ellen patton - Thanks for keeping it real.

  • Heidi Jo the Artist - I think when we fail we learn so much more than if we meet our goals all the time. So I try to fail often, ha ha, totally kidding! But I do try to think of this when things don’t go the way that I expected. Btw, love the photos! I am a tree nerd and this must be your Sycamore for “Under the Sycamore”, beautiful! My favorite tree lately is the ginkgo. The leaf shape has stolen my heart again. I’m glad I don’t have the stinky balls on my sidewalk though, ha, ha. You can see a lot of photos of tress on my Instagram lately if you like. The maples are a close second right now, because of the fall colors. Have an awesome day!

  • Laurie - Happy birthday and good for you. I laughed out loud that you had to post “no crossfit controversy”. SMH!!! You rock.

  • Kimberly Oyler - I would like a live demonstration of your ring skills tomorrow please. :)

  • michele - Stop thinking about it so much.

  • Jeanine - Wishing you all the best on your muscle up! I am still working on pull ups!!! At least you are young-try it at 53!
    I hope you don’t mind me asking about this, but I am so hoping that you are doing a best of my days for 2015. I gave several as gifts and it’s amazing how many people are still doing their lists! Thanks so much!