Gefilte Fish Out of Water

Trix r 4 Petey
March 27, 2010, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Petey | Tags: ,

When my new dog friend Shasa showed me how her dog gives her paw on command – and even gives both of them when she says Want a manicure?, I knew I had to get busy.  This Sit and Stay stuff was kid stuff.  Yes, I’m thrilled Petey is finally housetrained, but I want him to impress my friends with tricks!

So, I taught him some.  Getting him to give me the first paw on command was hard work.  I just kept picking up his paw while I said Gimme your paw! – over and over and over again.  I’d do this at the end of our walk, when he was used to just getting a treat and going inside.  I think I really confused him and made him weary.  He was like What is this !?  and would start to lose his balance sometimes.  But finally – he just knew to pick it up when I said it.  Yay !!!   This took about two days of these 10-minute training sessions 4-5 x a day.

Once he got it, I was reluctant to start teaching him Gimme the OTHER paw!, because I didn’t want to mess with his head.  Sure enough, when we started on that, he was, like Whaddya mean, Gomer – I AM giving you my freakin paw, now shut up and gimme the treat, A-hole !!  But I just kept at it, the same process where I picked up his right paw while saying Gimme the OTHER paw!  This time, it only took 20 minutes for him to get it!  Yay !!!

Now, I make him do it for a treat every time.  It’s so cute – especially the way he gives me the 2nd paw.  The first one, he just gives me straight forward.  But the 2nd one, maybe it’s a balance thing as he simultaneously puts down the first one while picking up the other, but he sort of “winds up” and gives me his other paw in a roundabout arc, as if he were throwing a pitch.  I totes love it, it’s the cutest.


Suddenly Getting It
February 27, 2010, 10:05 pm
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Happy news on the Petey front.  It just started clicking for the boy this week.  No more accidents (of any kind) in the house or going down the stairs.  In fact – he’s even started holding it until we get out of our front garden area and going out on the curb.  (Important to me, b/c using the same spot in the garden smells the walkway up a bit, and I want to be a good neighbor.)  I was picking my battles and not even trying to get him to do this, b/c he was having such a hard time figuring out that the stairs and lobby were off-limits, that I just wanted to praise him for going anywhere outside.

Taking that into account and the fact that he’s being a good boy unsupervised in the apartment w/ free reign, and I just feel like – voila! –  it took as long as it took, and now he’s suddenly gotten down the routine and figured it out for himself how things work.  I’m so proud of him (and happy to have gotten to this easier phase).

Who’s training who?
February 20, 2010, 5:45 pm
Filed under: Petey | Tags:

He’s an odd one!  From the pee-issues, to refusing to walk, Pete’s universally acclaimed adorableness is inversely proportional to some real high maintenance behavior.

The latest?  He won’t walk with me down the stairs.  I have to walk to the next landing without him, then sit down and he comes running to me.  Then, little bugger refuses to walk again, and so I walk to the next landing and sit, he comes running, and we stop-and-go like this all the way down.  The Becker-Barkins witnessed this one morning after a walk in Park Hayarkon, and that saucy Anna wastes no time in saying, Petey’s really got you trained, huh?

She’s right.  And it was getting worse!  Sitting wasn’t always working, so I was starting to have to lay down on the landing (!!!).  Finally, I drew the line.  When he refused to walk w/ me down, I just held his collar and dragged him.  After resisting 1-2 steps, he gave me no problems and just walked with me (but still put up the same shiz after the next landing. Freak.)

My friend Oren said, Why aren’t you just leashing him up inside the apartment and showing him who’s in control as soon as you start walking down? B/c Pete’s had such pee issues on the stares, trust me, it’s been a long bumpy path just to get us to this point.  But, Oren’s right, plus Pete hasn’t had a pee/stairs issue in a week while, so I tried the leash today going down.


Give him away?
February 13, 2010, 4:39 pm
Filed under: Petey | Tags: ,

It’s been well-documented here, Petey’s missteps with potty training.  He knows right from wrong, and is 100% poopie house trained and 85% pee pee house trained…but a few times a week he would have his first kind of accident:

  • The “overexcited” – where he either pees going down the stairs (sometimes trickly, sometimes almost full-on), or starts to pee in the lobby before I can get the door open so he can go outside.

Less frequently, but even more worrisome was his 2nd type of pee accident:

  • The “bed wetter” – kinda self-explanatory, idn’t it?  Pete would be exhausted from having run and played  for an hour in the dog park, and then I go by him later on and notice his bed is completely soaked in pee, and he’s just laying in it.  Very unusual behavior for a dog to pee his bed and remain laying in it; they will generally not do this b/c they are not supposed to like having to sit in their own pee (or poop).  Not to mention, this was a huge mystery to me…it had only been an hour since he was last out, he didn’t cry or ask to be let out, etc.

I’m not happy to report, he has developed a 3rd kind of accident.  I had happened twice a few weeks ago, but I was hoping they were isolated incidents, and I was hesitant to define it as a 3rd type.

  • The “let it fly right at Daddy’s feet” – I’ll be at the computer, typing or maybe on a Skype call, and Pete will come over and try to come up in my lap, or maybe sit underneath my feet.

This is normal, and he does this all the time.  Depending on how nice I’m dressed, whether or not I’m going out later or in for the night, or how intensely I’m working, I sometimes bring him right up on my lap and let him sit there while I work (although he is getting a bit big for it now – *sniff!*)  The WTF aspect of this accident, is I’ll get up eventually to take him out or get a glass of water or whatever, and I’ll realize there’s a big pee puddle right at my feet!  Or – this week, I watched him pee right in front of me, next to the chair (while I was on a conference call for work, natch).


At one point, after I had yelled at him, I was looking eye-to-eye at him in his crate, and I said to him out loud, Maybe I’ll have to get rid of you, Pete. [repeated this a few times]  …Yeah, maybe I’ll just have to get rid of you.  I can’t have you just peeing inside the house whenever you feel like it.  It sets my temper off, and it’s just unacceptable – especially after all the training we’ve done, and all the love and attention I give you, and I feed you well, and take you to the dog park, and play with you, and tell you I love you.  But I just can’t have this, Pete.  We might just have to get rid of you.

Now, I’m not Crazy Cat Lady, people.  I know Pete can’t understand me when I talk to him.  And I don’t know that I would really get rid of him either.  But I can tell you that I wasn’t bullshitting when I said this to him.  I think – as a means of letting go of my frustration with him and all the anger – I had to have a very real fantasy about this and really feel the feelings about being serious enough to give him away.  I had to sort of experience this in my imagination in order to let it go.

Anyway, Jeremy Yoda was kind of shocked to hear me say that I was considering giving him away.  But it’s so disappointing and frustrating, Jeremy. And then I whined about how well I take care of Pete, and the bewilderment over there being no good explanation for why his pee accidents persist.  J put his thinking cap on over the phone, and we carefully examined all the circumstances surrounding his accidents.

And, goddamn if we didn’t come up with something:  All of Pete’s accidents occur at the same time – in the afternoon, after he’s been at the dog park.  Where, he runs around and drinks a ton of water, then he comes home and drinks a ton more water and then goes to sleep. Basically, even though it’s only been an hour and my boy can hold it much longer than that, the combo of massive thirst quenching followed by waking up from a nap = my boy’s bladder is bursting and he cannot hold it.  Plus, Yoda Jeremy said, it’s probably a combination of Pete needing to get better at communicating that he needs to go out (apparently, they can be taught to bark when they need to go out) and you needing to pay more attention to him while you’re working and determining if he’s behaving like he could go out.

Our solution?  Pete needs to go out one hour after coming back from the dog park.  Even if he is still sleeping, I need to wake him up and take him out.  One week into this new strategy, he has not had a single accident….

…until this morning, when he had “the overexcited” and peed right by the building door this morning on our way out for the day’s first walk.  I’m gonna chalk that one up to the fact that his last walk the day before was at midnight, and b/c it was Shabbat this morning, I got up later than usual….so my sleeping late was a contributing factor, and Pete was forced to hold it too long.

Basically, I feel a lot better since Jeremy and I figured out the commonality behind most of his accidents and – this morning’s notwithstanding – he has not been having them since we put into place our new plan.

Cannot wait until he outgrows all this and it’s a thing of the past.

Oh, the afghan pic from above?  That’s a homemade knitted afghan my Dad’s wife Brenda made for me.  It come in especially handy in Israel, where our un-weatherproofed, tiled floored, concrete walled apartments get butt freezing inside in the winter time, despite it not being all that cold outside.  After an early morning walk two weeks ago, I went back to bed, but didn’t lock Pete up, b/c his bladder/bowels were empty, so there was no need to.

Awww, isn’t that cute, he’s sleeping by the foot of my bed while I sleep, I thought as I half-consciously heard his collar tag jangling down there.  It was only later when I realized – Nope, Petey had realized how fun it was to pull apart the crochet of the afghan – Whee! Dang.  Eh, no problem.  I’m having my tailor Alona repair it for me.  I’m not taking it to a specialist, who can fix it as good as new; I don’t care if it’s an obvious patch; it’ll just be a reminder/tribute to Pete’s puppydom.  But I do want it fixed, b/c I like it and it’s very useful right now; I can’t allow it to continue to unravel.

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?  😦

Petey got ‘Stay!’
January 30, 2010, 4:58 pm
Filed under: Petey | Tags:

I haven’t done a great deal of training with Petey.  Regular G-Fish readers know he’s housetrained, albeit with certain ‘excitement issues.’ Plus, he totes knows “Sit.”  But that’s about it.  Yoda Jeremy’s like, Just work with him a little bit at a time, when you come in from a walk. But I haven’t been.

Until recently, when I started ending our walks with some training on the Stay! command.  I’ve been telling Pete to sit down on the step in front of our building’s front door, and rewarding him with a treat.  Then, I’ll put my hand out in, like the universal STOP command and say in a firm and slow voice, Stay!

I’ll repeat myself as I back up while maintaining eye contact.  Then, I fold my arms in front of my chest and stare at Pete, periodically repeating the Stay! command with my “talk to the hand” gesture.  Finally, I release him by excitedly yelling, Come! And he comes running and gets rewarded with another treat and lots of praise.

It was not easy at first.  He just has so much damned energy and excitement about him, that starting any new training feels like such an uphill battle.  Plus, there are kittens who live in our front garden, and sometimes they pull Pete’s focus away from me.  And sometimes, my boy just gets so antsy or excited that he can’t wait for my Come! command and just bounds forward on his own.  When he does that, he doesn’t get a treat, and I plop him down back on the step, and we try again.

After only 3-4 days of this (averaging a few tries per walk, which we go on 3-4 times/day), he seemed to get it!  No more bounding forward before I gave my Come! command.  Even if I waited an extra long time, or went around a corner/out of sight.  He got it!  I was really proud of him.

Then, I thought to try it out in a different location, like on the path next to our building, and it became clear he hadn’t quite gotten it.  Sometimes he’d still bound forward before he was called.  So, we’re continuing this training, and whenever possible (no distractions, safe areas where he can’t run away) we’re doing it in different environments.  Still very proud of Pete.

Petey’s Not Sick!
January 24, 2010, 12:29 pm
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The Pete Man plays in my Birthday Booty Haul (not really - I totes staged this)

Good news, you guys.  Petey does not have a urinary tract or bladder infection.  I collected a urine sample (fun!, actually v. easy), and our vet ran a quick test.  Petey passed every test, and his urine is an indicator that he is perfectly healthy.  Yay, but this cost me 60 shex to find out (not so bad).

So, then what is up with his making me pull him out of his crate and either peeing right outside of it, or trickling some down the stairs?  Apparently, just nerves or excitement.  Um, OK…

I’m not pulling him out of his crate anymore.  I find that if I just sit down in front of it and act affectionate, he’ll run right into my lap.  After some petting and love, I’ll stand up and carry him down.  If it’s midday or less than 3 hours since his last time out, I’ll let him walk down the stairs – but I’m trying this without a leash (instead, I’m waiting to leash him up until we get outside), and I’m guiding him with a treat in my hand and giving him bites of it on the way down – pulling his focus onto eating instead of emptying his bladder.  But if it’s first thing in the morning or after a really long time of being inside, I carry him to avoid any accidents (and need to clean up, and setting off of my temper).

This is working.  I’m hoping he grows out of this whole nervous pee thing eventually though.  I’d love to just be able to say Let’s go for a walk! and he just follows me down 1-2-3, no probs.