Filed under: Hey!, Petey | Tags: accidents, growth, learning, temper, training
About two weeks ago, I began experimenting with letting Petey have some free run of the house – while I am there with him. When we’d come back from a walk (so I knew he was “empty”), I’d be at the PC blogging or surfing and would let him wander and sniff.
I’d be sort of nervous that he’d pee or chew something up, so I would sometimes call to him if I couldn’t see him and he’d come running back to me. Or, I’d stick my head into the bedroom or bathroom and spy on him.
This went REALLY well….the first day we did it. That first time, Pete was a good boy – curious, but harmless – for like a whole hour. Things went so well, that I repeated the experiment later that evening, and then once at night. Each time, he was a little angel. I liked seeing a preview of how things could be when he’s older: me writing, and him chilling by my side. And from the behavior he was demonstrating, maybe this would be sooner than I originally planned.
I also noticed something interesting. The whole thing with crate training is – not only is it a housetraining tool (b/c he’s not supposed to want to pee/poop where he’s laying, and you only give him enough space in the crate to lay but not really walk around too much), but in the wild, dogs build little dens for themselves. They like being in kinda confined areas with only one entrance/exit (think: cave), having their own private space. Even once the dog is house trained, he’s supposed to hang in his crate willingly to chillax, even when its door is open and he has a choice. But Pete wasn’t doing this, ever. But when he did do during these experiments, was crawl through the baby gates into his nighttime “pen” area to chillax on his dog bed in there. So, he was exhibiting this doggie-den-willingly thing…but in the pen, not the crate.
Then, duh, it hit me: it’s all about the bed.
Once I realized this, I moved the bed from the pen into the crate. We’re no longer using the pen area, and I’m going to check with Yoda when he gets back from the civilized world Toronto to ask if we can dismantle it.
Hunky dory so far, right? Well, you probably already know where this is going. We had A LOT of setbacks after this first day. Pete got more “roaming” time the next day…until he let fly a big pee right on the bathroom floor. Not a rug, but still – Hey !!! Yoda says I need to manage my expectations and remember that Pete is still just a baby. It takes time for these rules to sink in, and he is going to forget and make mistakes. But a defect of mine is to totally take it personally, like I ‘m some crap trainer not doing it right or he would’ve gotten it by now.
Then, another time, he was willingly chillaxin’ (willaxin’?) in his open crate, chomping on something. I thought nothing of it, b/c his Aunt Betz has given him this awesome “ancient Himalayan dog treat” that the Buddha’s dog chewed on thousands of years ago, and Pete loves it and it’s lasting a really long time. Except when I finally was over by him and saw what it was, I was pissed to learn it was actually a wooden clothespin Pete had taken from a little box under my bed. He had demolished it. Not really such a big deal, considering they cost pennies, and I have lots more. But he could’ve choked or punctured his innards on the metal spring! What really annoyed me though, was when I went back to writing, and I observed him bounce right into my room and over to the box and take another one out. Each time, I would pick him up, take it out of his mouth and put it back, and tell him NO! with a swift but moderately forceful, downward swipe against his little snoot. I expected him to get it after one of those NO!/snoot-hit combos. But he’s a baby, and he…doesn’t. 😦
But like – OK, let me get to the crying thing. Sometimes Pete will bleat like a goat from inside his crate. I’d be working and would ignore him…then, plead with him to shut up…then raise my voice and yell at him the same thing. Then, I’d ignore some more and he’d finally stop. Great, I’d think – I’m actually Ferberizing my puppy. Except I’d misread the whole thing. I’d finally go by him in his crate and see that his bed was wet, and he was laying in
a pile of his own pee. I’d yell at him, pick him up and point his nose in it, hit his snoot, and run downstairs for a walk. But it was totes my fault. What if his crying was just his way of telling me Dad, I gots to go, like now! Take – me – out !!! Maybe I was just an out of touch, un-clued in, violent monster?
So I told Yoda, and told him that from now on, any time I heard the bleat cry, we’d immediately leash up and run right outside. But, then sometimes we’d do this, and he wouldn’t pee or poop out there at all. He’d just go on a smelling frenzy and try and eat cat food the neighbors leave out for the strays. When, you’re busy with work, this feels like a big waste of energy and is another reason to get upset at him.
Told Yoda, who said, Maybe sometimes it does mean “Take me out!” but other times it’s just him being bored and saying “I’m bored. Bring me out and play with me!” Hence, the experiments with trying to leave him out of the crate for more time without him having an accident, but you already know those don’t always end well – and you can see the vicious circle thing, too, yah?
I think I turned all of this around finally, but first, a little more darkness: Pete has overcome his fear of walking down steps, and so instead of having to carry him down and outside, now we walk down together. I have to be quick about opening the building’s door once we’re in the lobby, b/c a few times, he has thought the lobby was “good enough” and started to pee in there. But if ever I oversleep in the morning (b/c it happens), sometimes – even though he has held it during the night for like 8 hours – he will be too excited to finally go out and he’ll start peeing right outside the crate, or right outside my apartment, or once or twice – all the way down the steps (b/c I didn’t realize it); then I had to take Clorox and paper towels and clean the entire stairway (all four flights) – GRR !!!
Similarly, if I don’t bring him outside FIRST THING after getting up (no time for coffee, or teeth brushing, or doing my own morning pee), sometimes he’ll just go on his dog bed. Heaven forbid, I go onto the Internet before we go down. That’s just a disaster waiting to happen. I’ll flip out and lose my temper, thinking: But Yoda said he’s not supposed to want to pee where he sleeps! Is he just dumb? Fucking with me? WTF ???
BTW, Yoda says dogs are not smart enough to fuck with you; it’s much more basic with them than that. I was noticing Pete has the ability to hold it 8 hours overnight, or 4 hours at a time if I’m out at a movie and coffee afterward with friends….so why, when he starts crying in his crate 30 minutes after we’ve just come back from a walk – why then, does he sometimes pee on his bed if I don’t immediately take him out again (thinking this is just one of those Play with me! cries)? How is this NOT him fucking with me? Yoda says it’s just not. They’re too dumb and not that Machavellian. OK, Yoda, whatever you say.
Anyway, the light? I have gone back to using some positive reinforcement on walks when does his first big pee after going outside. (Poos, too, but – THANKFULLY – he has gotten that one down and not been having ANY poo accidents in the house; thank you, God !!!) I stopped with the treats for a while, because he stopped being interested in them. He’d sniff ’em and be like, whatevs. But – I think this is b/c we were on the emergency he’s-too-skinny-so-just-keep-his-bowl-filled-with-food-at-all-times plan, and he was never actually hungry. Now, we’re doing about 85 grams of food breakfast-lunch-dinner mealtimes, so – whaddaya know? – he’s into treats again.
Then, when we get back inside, I shut the doors to my bathroom and bedroom, and Pete gets free run of the house. For 30 minutes tops. (Two days ago, he was chillin’ by my side as I wrote…and then he just opened up and started whizzin’ right on the corner of the living room rug. Boo !!! Clorox spray took the odor out…and some of the color, d’oh.) Then, even if he’s been good, he goes back in the crate. (Actually, now that the bed’s in there, he sometimes just goes in there on his own, if I’m being boring and blogging instead of playing with him.) Plus, we’re averaging 2-3 trips to the dog park a day, so this tires him out a lot.
He’s so cute – sometimes he gets right into the little space under my desk where my feet are and just sits in between them and the computer. Other times, he’ll try and climb right up my leg and I’ll just pull him up to sit on my lap.
Aww. So, I think this new system is totes brillz. Happy we negotiated it out of much trial and #FAIL error. Pete’s not the only one learning.
Petey’s pretty content in his cage crate. After all, this is what the experts say: that dogs in the wild will naturally create for themselves locked, fenced-in walls small, private areas they claim as their private, personal space.
Sometimes, he’ll begin whining in there while I’m at work at my desk. It sounds just like a goat’s bleat; it’s kinda funny. I alternate between getting really annoyed if I’m trying hard to concentrate and laughing at him that he’s such a little baby!
Finally if he doesn’t stop, and I go over to check on him, I’ll be super pissed to find him sitting in a pool of his own pee. Finally it hit me:
Pete’s bleating crying is him trying to (first) tell me I have to go! I’m bursting, Dad – take me outside, like, now! (and then) Oh, this really sucks, Dad – I’m wet, sitting in a pool of my own smelly pee. Please make it better, Dad – please !!
Duh, me. Instead of thinking This is weird, Pete usually doesn’t cry in his crate. Why is he crying now? and ignoring it until I discover what he’s done and flipping out…I finally got that the ONLY reason he’s crying is to tell me something.
So basically, my dog is smarter than a fifth-grader I am.
Actually, I can be so selfish caught up in my work, that when the (warning) crying first starts, I’ll try and barter/reason with him, like Wait, Pete. Daddy’s just wrapping up a really important email first. Can you please just hold it a little longer like a big boy? As if, Scott. Really!
Petey will walk up the steps with me to the apartment after we get back from a walk. But, he won’t walk down. So I have to carry him. Yoda says this is actually fine, because:
1) You want to get the eff outside ASAP after bringing him out of the crate, so he doesn’t have any accidents on the way downstairs.
2) The motion and pressure against his bladder/bowels as I handle him and carry him down can be helpful in getting things moving inside and helping him wanna do his business when I put him down.
But, you know, I want him to be able to walk down stairs, too. Face your fears! I’ll give him this – in relation to his tiny body and limbs, they are still kinda big for him. And with gravity assisting, with his paw pads against the smooth stone, he has less control than he has when going up them.
So I tried it slowly. First, placing him down mid stairs, on the last set before the ground floor. Success! He walked down them and followed me outside. Next time, I moved him up a level; same thing – mid flight of stairs. Another success! Down and out (in a good way). If I placed him on a landing in between flights, he would only look ahead /down the flight in bewilderment; he has to be placed in the middle of steps and be encouraged to actually attempt walking down them.
Then, we were up to three short flights of steps in between floors. He went down the first flight…good…made it through the 2nd one…good, Petey…and then stalled on the landing. I overexcitedly encouraged the eff out of him. But – LOL, he actually about-faced and went all the way back to my apartment front door! And this is when he had a full bladder and really needed to go! LOL, indeed. You’ll get it, Petey. Proud of you, Pal.