Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Our New Family Member, the Third

A wise man once said: when a puppy piddles on the carpet, whose fault is it, the puppy's or its owner's? Answer: the owner's, because he's the one not paying attention to his puppy. That's paraphrasing, but we read something very similar on a puppy potty-training website, back when we were first trying to train Sadie. It's as irritating a statement as you're likely to find, but it's also true. Potty training a dog to "go" exclusively outside is a long and uric-acid soaked process that can drive you nigh onto insanity. Complicating the process further is that we refused to go the half-step route of first training to "go" on paper or floor diaper, opting for the whole hog "yer goin' outside or ye'd better get used to holdin' it" avenue.

It's the same process we used on Sadie, starting a year and a half back. We must have done a good job of it, too, because Sadie is completely awesome when it comes to whizzing exclusively outside. Point of fact, she's a pretty awesome dog all around, which we can see now that we have Moose (or Piddles McGillicuddy, as he's come to be known) as contrast. Whenever Sadie has to go "potty," she literally asks to go out; she comes and finds us wherever we are, and gives us an urgent-toned series of grunts and growls. That's our cue to say, "You need to go potty?" at which point she steps up the urgency of the growls. In the early days of this, we used to also have episodes of what we called "potty lying" in which the dog really just wanted to go outside to sniff or investigate the possibility of deer lurking in the yard and would use pottying as her ticket to be let out. This was annoying because at the time we didn't have our nifty wifi shock collar system in place and would have to accompany her into the cold using a leash to prevent her from tearing off into the night after said lurking deer. These days, though, she's so well-trained by her shock collar that she doesn't even have to wear the collar anymore and we completely trust her to stay in the yard and let her out whenever the mood strikes her.

As well trained as Sadie now is, we can't for the life of us remember what exactly we did to reach that level of perfection with her. How was it, for instance, that we were able to get her to verbalize her potty needs? We'd really like to know, because it seems silly to punish Moose for piddling in the house and yell at him to only go outside when he seemingly doesn't have any recourse for letting us know that he needs to go outside. So for the past few weeks, we've tried to remain vigilant for any signs that he needs to go and immediately let him out. Trouble is, he's a stealth-pisser and covert-crapper, capable of squeezing out some waste in seconds, usually choosing to do so in a room other than the one we're in and dashing back before we know he was even gone. Until about three days ago, we had not had even one single day without an accident in all the weeks he's been here. And I'm not convinced he even achieved that record feat, because I found and cold, old link in the guest bedroom two days ago, and who knows when he deposited that?

Fortunately, I think we're finally seeing the light at the end of Poop & Piddle Tunnel. While we have had some excretory indiscretions in recent days, they've all been of a solid variety, so he's either getting the message that the yard is where he needs to wee, or he's developing better bladder control. Maybe both. He's even begun to go to the back door when he needs to go, which makes us extremely happy. Now if we can only work on his verbalizing, we'll be good. As shiny and perfect as Sadie appears in this regard, in actuality it took her several months to achieve this state.

Meanwhile, Moose has been easier to train in other regards. He's actually sitting and waiting on command--at least most of the time--and is already shaking hands with enough regularity that it's nearing on-command level, too. He also fetches far better than Sadie, (who is perfectly willing to go get any item you throw, but will then only play keepaway with it); Moose actually brings things back, provided you don't tell him he's a good dog until he returns with them, otherwise he drops whatever it is and runs to be praised.

As much as we've hated having to be back in cleanup mode again, we're really digging Moose as a pup. He's a far less high-maintenance dog than Sadie was at that age and it's been a fun guessing game as to what sort of dog he really is. We keep telling him he'd better not be a damn little chow chow, but we'll probably survive okay, even if he is.

He and Sadie are great friends--except before she's had her coffee in the morning, when she tends to growl at him. Same goes for Avie kitty, who has wisely chosen to make friends with him while he's still tiny. They have lots of fun chasing one another around the house, with Avie running only until Moose gives up the chase, at which point she turns and slinks back in his vicinity to get his attention and start the game anew.

The other thing I'm trying to do with him is to take more pictures. We took lots of Sadie as a puppy, then a few more as an adolescent dog, but very few in between those stages and then adult. Got to get more in the bank before he loses his puppy cuteness. Everyone who sees him falls in love with him, even down to our vet. I've taken him in three times now for initial checkup and shots and each time the vet and her staff have trouble giving him back to me. This past visit, they even apologized that I had to wait around the waiting room for so long, because they didn't want to let him go. He's a charmer.

1 comment:

grayjaydeb said...

I just spent the weekend dogsitting a Leonberger. He is a very good looking, smart, well behaved, gigantic dog. I hope that your little one turns out to be the same.