Monday, August 11, 2008

My Doggy Housebreaking Odyssey

I have never been a proponent of adopting puppies. Quite the opposite, I've always felt that if one were adopting a dog it should be an adult. A senior dog is even better. Adult dogs are more likely to be housebroken, they're usually calmer, and generally a lot less work than a puppy would be.

By no means am I claiming to be an expert on the subject. This observation is mostly based upon the one experience I've had with puppies. A few years back my mom and step-dad had adopted a miniature schnauzer, just a few weeks old. And
very cute, too. She didn't have one of those wierd schnauzer haircuts with the moustache. But, man, was she a handful. She had all this puppy energy, just constantly wanting to play. She wanted jump on you and play-bite all the time. And when they had to go to work she apparently whined and cried all day. Last but not least, she hadn't yet been housebroken either. It was too much for them. They returned her after a few short weeks.

The dog
they have now is an older miniature poodle named Ginger. They got her from a poodle rescue. She had apparently been abused by her former owner. She's not in great shape physically. You can tell by the way she walks that her hips have stiffened up on her. My mom can only walk her short distances. I've never seen her run or jump. She's also had most of her teeth removed so she can't handle dry dog food. She's elderly by dog standards, probably 11 or 12 years old. Who knows how much time she left? But my mom loves her to death and gives her all the love, care, and attention she needs. Ginger's a good dog. She deserves to live the rest of her life in relative comfort.

I feel that older dogs, even elderly dogs should be the first consideration for anyone wanting to adopt a new one. Don't feel sorry for any puppy you see at the SPCA or animal shelter. Puppies are cute and cuddly. Puppies always get adopted quickly. It's the older ones that have it hard. They don't have that puppy dog cuteness anymore. They have fewer years ahead of them. They deserve a little extra consideration.

This leads me to my little Charlie. Look at him. Adorable, isn't he? Karen mad
e a hypocrite of me. I have a genuine, bonafide puppy. He'll be four months old this week. As much as I love this little guy he can be a real pain in the butt. He's got that puppy energy all right. He gets into everything. And those baby teeth and nails are as sharp as a cat's. Thank God we've got Zoe around to be his playmate.

He has to be taught everything, and I have exactly ZERO experience with housebreaking a dog. Every dog I've every I've ever dealt with in my life has already been housebroken. But I've been doing my homework. I've been reading books and looking at websites. I will be tackling this task head on.

I'm going to be chronicling my progress on this blog.

This first thing I have to report is about crate training. Since dogs will not defecate or urinate where they sleep a dog will "hold it" while confined to their crate. But first I must get him used to being in his crate. I need to take steps to ensure that he doesn't think of his crate as a little jail cell, but rather his own private personal den. This is what I've begun working on. Zoe will be going through this as well as she is not fully housebroken either.

At this point I just want them to go inside their crates without closing the door. I've been able to tell Charlie to "go inside" while pointing at the crate. He's been really good about it. I praise him and give him a little treat. But Zoe's been a tougher nut to crack. I've only been able to get her to go inside by tossing the treat in first. And as soon as she retrieves the treat she pops right back out.

Yesterday I began closing the crate doors on them for a couple of minutes. The entire time I'm sitting in front of them, praising them and giving them treats through the little metal bars. I'm hoping to make being inside the crate a pleasant experience. I did it again today. They seemed to be fine.

That's my progress so far. I'll have another update soon

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