cheap tricks for puppies

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Yes, yes, I have been talking a lot about Franklin and raising a puppy over the last week. It’s honestly because he’s been a huge new part of my life which is currently taking up a lot of my time, attention, and intentions as we get to know each other and establish a routine.

But I promise that he’s not going to be running the show here on the blog. I plan to continue to share a mix of life, home, and business intentions going forward.

However, today I’d like to share a few inexpensive cheap tricks I’ve discovered for Franklin. Some are purely practical and others are a mix of form and function. And all the tricks are under $12.

When Franklin is getting riled up and being really mouthy, this ducky on a string has been a life hand-saver. Instead of getting bit repeatedly while trying to play with a toy in my hand, the string allows me to keep my skin several feet away from his sharp puppy teeth.

Though we don’t let him play with the duck unattended due to the string, we have found him to be one of Franklin’s favorite “big boy” toys.

When it came to food bowls, I spotted these adorable little white ramekins at Target for just $1.99 each! They are far and away cuter and cheaper than the options I found at our local PetSmart.

For keeping the floors clean, Mr. Lively picked out this sea-foam tray at Ikea for just $11.99. It’s metal with a great coating that makes it waterproof and puppy-proof. Nothing he can do to this tray seems to alter it one bit.

In fact, we’ve found that Franklin also uses the tray as a napping station too.

After one week of clicker training Franklin has now learned “sit,” “lay down,” “shake,” “leave it,” “kisses,” “drop it,” and “high five.”

We’ve also been able to work on his impulse control immensely with these simple $1.49 clickers found at the checkout at PetSmart. There are actually four of these clickers all around the house paired with little snack bowls (filled with his actual food) for when he’s looking for attention and wants to do some “tricks.”

I’ve found some great clicker training tutorials here that have helped me get new ideas for commands and training.

Like most puppies, Franklin loves to chew. He’s fond of chewing baskets, rugs, pillows… whatever he can get his teeth on. We first purchased Bitter Cherry from a local supply store but we found out that Franklin actually likes the flavor.

After later reading about Tabasco, but not wanting to cover our furniture in orange sauce, we opted for white vinegar with chopped jalapenos. We’ve dabbed this on the baskets he adores and already we’ve seen him turn his nose at the scent and walk away. Victory!

Though it might not work for upholstered pieces, it’s great for cables and hard surfaces. Freezing his toys has also helped calm his little teeth and make his toys almost more appealing than the rug.


So there you have it!  A few of the simple, cheap ways I’ve found to keep our house in order and help our puppy grow into a little gentleman.

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  1. Blair

    I’m getting my puppy in about two weeks and this is GREAT to know!! Love the little ramekins, might be doing that for food bowls because they’re so dang cute!

  2. Kate

    It seems silly, but puppies learn bite control from their littermates by the other puppy squealing. If he does mouth your hand, squealing and truly acting like you’re hurt, that helps puppies learn bite control with humans.

  3. Jess

    Kate, yep! We’ve definitely been working on that. Sometimes it’s not enough to stop him when he’s really riled up, and the string/duck is awesome in those situations. : )

  4. tab

    I love reading about your puppy adventures and reminiscing about when my dogs were puppies. We got two from the same litter. Sounds like he is a fast learner. Keep it up the training. It will pay off later.

  5. Tornow

    I am going to have to try the vinegar and jalapeno trick. Bing is almost one and he still chews on everything. When he was a little puppy, I tried a mixture of apple cider vinegar with cayenne, but I was scared the red color would stain. Plus, I tried it on a pair of sandals and he seemed to like the flavor.

  6. Nikell

    Reading this post takes me back lol.
    Another good cheap toy option is to tie a bunch of old socks with holes in them together to form a large knot. This way little Franklin can chew on the knot and if you want to play tug of war you can tug with it too. Minnie is 3 and still loves to play with old socks. (^_^)

  7. Allie K

    I have the same exact ramekins for my 2 pups, too funny! They each have their own coordinating tray from Target, just a small ceramic white one. Makes cleanup on the floor MUCH easier. Puppies are rough! I think that’s why they make them so cute.

  8. Kate

    hahaha Jess you’re doing everything right, and he’s still a terror. So is Rusty. I fostered over 15 dogs – the toughest ones are the most rewarding, I promise. Your bond will be stronger and he’ll surprise you at some point. Besides Jess, you like to make your own way – wouldn’t be fun if it wasn’t a challenge, no? 🙂 Seems like you’re doing great, you can do it!

  9. Amber

    LOVE the jalapeno/vinegar tip! We just adopted a 10 month old lab about a month ago. She’s pretty much past a lot of her puppy behavior, but I still don’t trust her home alone while we’re at work, so I might have to try this on some of the things I don’t want destroyed (AKA everything). 🙂

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