Gefilte Fish Out of Water


Doggie Guilt
February 6, 2010, 8:46 pm
Filed under: Petey | Tags: , ,

I have posted many times about Petey and his pee pee accidents.  You’ve all been very helpful, having me get him tested to make sure he didn’t have a urinary tract or bladder infection.  (He doesn’t).

Petey definitely knows it’s wrong to pee inside the house (and the stairs and lobby) and good to pee outside.  He gets loads of positive reinforcement in the form of treats and praise from me when he does it outside.  And, sorry Yoda Jeremy, negative reinforcement from me in the form of smacking his snoot downwards and sometimes holding his face right up to the puddle when he pees inside.

No doubt Pete gets it.  Yet he still has accidents sometimes.  Usually they take this form: he’ll be shy to come out of his crate, so I lure him out by sitting in front of him and offering a treat.  Then, he’ll be shy to follow me out the front door to go downstairs; instead, he’ll stay seated outside his cage and just look at me.  It’s as if he knows the times he’s going to have an accident and he’s just trying to avoid putting himself in that position.  I’ve been trying to distract him as we go down the stairs, by teasing him with a treat but not letting him have it (sometimes I do break off a piece and he gets that).  Then, we leash up in the lobby and go outside.  If I wait to leash him until we’re outside he’s started a new thing where he runs  away from me, but more on that later.  And if I leash him upstairs, the way the leash attaches to the Gentle Leader/Halti so low to the ground makes it hard for us to navigate the stairs quickly.  So, I’ve arrived at this unleashed-but-fixated-on-the-teased-treat method going down, then leashed-in-the-lobby method.  And most of the time it works.  Except for the 1-2 times/week when it doesn’t.  And those time are almost always foreshadowed by his not wanting to follow me out of the apartment.

More infrequently is Pete’s other kind of accident.  He actually did both kinds last Tuesday.  We had been at the dog park, and he had gotten an awesome workout, playing his little guts out.  I knew he’d come home and crash on his bed, and he did.  I thought he’d be out for 3 hours, but he was up after one.  I walked by him to get some coffee in the kitchen and bent down to give him a kiss.  That’s when I discovered his entire bed was soaked in pee and he was laying in it.  Eww !!!  Ask any dog owner – this is not supposed to happen.  It is very unusual for a dog to piss his bed; even odder to remain laying in it.  I theorized that maybe he let it fly in the middle of a really good dream, woke himself up, and was so ashamed that he was trying to cover it up and hide it with his body.  Jeremy Yoda says I shouldn’t attribute that level of emotions and cognition to Pete; that dogs just ain’t that bright to be able to feel shame and try and hide something, etc.

But then what, people – what ???  What am I doing wrong that my dog keeps doing this?  I give him love, I pet the hell out of him, I let him lay on my lap and we watch Internet TV together, I take him for hour playtimes in the dog park, I feed him plenty and give him treats.  What am I doing wrong ???

Later that same day, he had his more typical kind of accident.  Man, he was just having a really bad day, I thought.  He just needs to go to sleep and have a do-over tomorrow.  Now, because he had started to take a full-on whiz right on the lobby floor, I had to whisk him outside to finish, and there was no time to leash him up.  After he finished, the little prick up and took off!

WTF, Pete – you’ve got to be kidding me!

Of course, this worries me very much.  He could easily run into the street and be hit by a car.  So, I got low to the ground, held out a treat, and called him back.  Thankfully, he came running.  Now, there was no need to hit him.  The main thing was he was coming back to me and would be safe.  But I was already worn thin from a day with two accidents (the most recent one still wasn’t cleaned up yet, and until it was, there was a chance a neighbor would see or step in it), and I lost my temper.  Big time.  I still only slapped him on his snoot, not anywhere else like his ribs, God forbid.  But I did it another level harder than I usually do it, and he yelped and recoiled.

You should have seen Yoda Jeremy’s face when I told him that story over dinner.  You could practically see him pressing the silent-alarm under the table.  That is SO wrong, he explained.  He was coming back to you, and you ‘rewarded’ that with a smack.  He’s not smart enough to realize the smack was for running away.  Next time you try and call him back after he’s run away, he might remember what happened last time and think ‘eff u, buddy, I ain’t fallin’ for that again.’

Of course, you know, I felt really guilty after whacking my dog.  And it lingered into the next day.  So, after my driver’s test, I stopped into Roi’s pet store and got spent about 300 shekels (approx $81) on treats and toys for him, including some of those plush toys he’s never had before.

It was a lot of fun, presenting him with one toy after another.  He didn’t know what was happening, and was enthralled by whatever I set down in front of him next.

Less than ten minutes later, I learned why Yoda Jeremy had said before that the plush toys were a bad idea.  Pete had destroyed two of them – in ten minutes!

$30 down the drain

Seriously, though, people – what gives with Petey’s inconsistent, yet persistent pee pee accidents?  Is he acting out, because he’s angry if we haven’t gone to the dog park or for longer walks, if I’m glued to the computer writing all day?  Is it punishment for that?  He doesn’t look like he’s spiting me; he really does look like he doesn’t want to have the accident.  But then, why is he?  😦

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Experiments & Accidents
December 3, 2009, 1:01 pm
Filed under: Hey!, Petey | Tags: , , , ,

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.

Like, duh, Dad.

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.  😦

Here’s where my temper enters into things, and I really have to be careful.  Pete is wonderful with other dogs, with people, with children – with everyone.  Dozens of people have exclaimed what a cutie he is, and several Serious ‘Dog People’ have remarked on his disposition and How lucky you are.

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

NO !!!

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 ???

Use the force, Scott.

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.

Me & Petey in the Israeli "winter"