A rough-coated collie puppy will be joining our family soon. Our plan for outdoor elimination is to place the puppy (only when elimination is imminent) in an ex-pen to keep the young pup contained while he/she sniffs and circles and to train the puppy to use just a particular section of the yard. I imagine only needing this for 2-3 months (am I too optimistic?).

Collies can grow quite big, but I can't find any reference to their size at 8-20 weeks of age and am having a hard time guessing the height of an ex-pen needed to contain a 3-4 month old puppy of that breed just for potty time.

I would like to use the shortest ex-pen possible so that my son can move it easily when he mows the lawn (or else he won't, but that's an issue for the parenting SE).

This is the first puppy/dog my husband and I have had as adults, so feel free to answer and comment with additional advice!

2 Answers 2


2-3 months? That's quite a bit exaggerated. It should be more like 1-2 weeks, especially if you've got some very tasty treats you keep exclusively for "potty time". It took us maybe a week or two to get our puppy so far that he didn't want to go when on a walk. He'd start pulling and running home to do it back home - and to get the treats. He'd actually start to get angry sometimes if he'd go and wouldn't get a treat, e.g. due to us not expecting it. (That behavior fixed itself over the next month or so.)

Also I don't think you'll need any kind of pen to contain the dog. A short leash might be enough, depending on the area you might not even need that. Most puppies won't move too far on their own, especially in the beginning, so just stay there and wait. You shouldn't leave your dog on its own anyway, especially at that age (potential danger of poisonous plants, possibly other animals, etc.).

For a start, you just have to get your puppy to do it there once. Once that's done, every consequent time will be easier, since the dog will prefer the area it used before. In case some accident happens inside your house, you can use that to your advantage, too. Grab the product and place it in the "target area" on your grass. The dog will recognize the smell and reuse the area. You can remove every again after the next time your puppy went there.

  • 1
    Ah, you've completely rearranged my expectations! I was 3 when we got my childhood dog and so don't remember a thing about puppyhood. However, are you sure we're on the same page? I believe we take the puppy home at 8 weeks. The training guide I read said it's hopeless to potty train until 4 months. The training guide also said that the puppy could only "hold it" for its age in months + 1 hour. Does this seem credible to you? May 7, 2015 at 23:14
  • @SnappingShrimp you're interpreting this wrong. With 8 weeks the puppy will have to go about once every two hours. That's correct. However, there's a difference between "will wait for us to go outside" and "dumps it wherever it is". It might take longer for the dog to be able to make it through the night without going outside (your estimate with months to hours is about correct).
    – Mario
    May 8, 2015 at 5:49
  • @SnappingShrimp Also keep on mind that potty training is a thing to do as early as possible (as soon as you get the dog). You can do it later, but you don't gain anything by waiting (it might actually make it harder). So drop the four months estimate. That's a rough number on when the dog will be able to make it through the night or work day (also depends on the individual dog). It's not the earliest point to start training.
    – Mario
    May 8, 2015 at 5:54
  • Ok so to get this straight: we go through all the motions of potty training (taking the dog out to the potty spot every couple of hours) as soon as we get the pup home. But we can't really expect the dog to hold it reasonably well until about four months? Our son will be home all summer to take the pup out back every two hours, after which we plan to fall back on a dog walker and probably day care for those days when our son can't make it home by 3pm. Our goal is to limit crate time/alone time as much as possible. May 8, 2015 at 17:14
  • @SnappingShrimp Correct. Start training immediately. It's individually, based on the dog itself as well as it's breed. Our Husky was like 3 months old when I no longer had to take him outside during the night.
    – Mario
    May 8, 2015 at 20:09

Mario has a good answer, but if you are still planning to use an ex-pen, a two foot tall pen should be fine. There are very good reasons to not leave your puppy unsupervised in an ex-pen so 2 feet provides a sufficient barrier if you are there to ensure he learns to respect the barrier.

A single ex-pen only makes a square 4 foot by 4 foot, so it is unlikely to provide sufficient space for the job. If you use the ex-pen against the corner of a fenced yard to make an area, it can be 8 foot by 8 foot which is about the right size if you scoop poop regularly (like every time).

To use the corner of the fence, about 8 feet out from the corner in both directions screw eye hooks into the fence so you can use the clips that come with the ex-pen to clip the ex-pen to the fence. When you puppy bumps against the ex-pen it will stay attached to the fence.

  • No worries: the dog will never be left alone outside unsupervised; we live in a city with human dog thieves as well as dangerous urban wildlife--we've even had a bear and cougar wander through on the railroad tracks/green belt just a few blocks away. I now see that an ex-pen is too small for what I was planning and we will use a leash to keep the dog in a smallish area as a potty zone. My fear was that I would be too clumsy to hook a leash to the dog in the middle of the night in time! May 8, 2015 at 17:21

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