Thursday, March 20, 2014

Stewie's Training Progress

Warning:  Do not read this while you are eating.

I've been sick all week and am still sick.  Midge is sick too.  It has been great fun trying to get some bed rest with a puppy who has to go out every few minutes and Midge vomiting all over the house.  Each time I hear Midge heaving, I have to spring out of bed or off the couch and carry her to the tile floor where it is easy to clean.  I just want to load up on NyQuil and sleep, but can't.

This totally reminds me of being a mother of young kids who bring home a virus from school, and even though I've caught it myself, I spend all my time cleaning up everyone else's vomit.  I just don't understand why the dogs always get sick when I am sick.  I thought humans and dogs were not susceptible to the same viruses.  Actually, I have my suspicions on what is going on with Midge, but won't know for sure until we get her to a vet.

Before I got sick, Stewie's potty training was coming along and there were fewer accidents indoors.  What worked wasn't even a planned part of his training.  Originally, I thought I'd potty train him through clicker training, but it was impossible to find a few extra seconds to grab the treats and clicker before taking him outside once he showed signs of needing to go out.  Usually by the time I grabbed those items, he already relieved himself on the floor.

We have a potty patch of fake grass and tried to train him to go on it when we can't take him outside on time, but none of the recommended techniques worked.  That is essentially just another gadget for pet owners to waste their money on that only works under certain circumstances.  I thought leaving him outside in the new dog run would work, but he just held it until I brought him indoors.  Oh well, at least I knew he could hold it.  Now I just had to get him to hold it indoors and take care of business outdoors.

An old picture of Stewie shaking his toy cow by the tail while Midge looks on.

What helped was a fluke.  We had been hanging the dog leashes on hooks in the laundry room, and I didn't have time to run to the back of the house to grab Stewie's leash before he relieved himself, so I set all the leashes on the floor by the door where I take him out.  My husband got tired of hurting his back by bending over to pick up the leashes, so he bought another hook rack and installed it next to the back door.

Now when Stewie feels the urge coming on, he runs to the back door and sits down in front of the leashes.  It's relatively easy to see him doing this, because we spend the majority of our time in the living area next to the back door.  If he simply sat by the back door previously, it meant nothing, because the door is glass and he likes to look out it at the horses and wildlife.  Now he actually points with his nose at the leashes to distinguish when he needs to go out vs. when he's just gazing outside.

He is impatient, though.  If we are distracted and don't notice him pointing at the leashes, he'll only give us about ten seconds to respond, and if we don't, he runs into the bedroom and uses the carpet.  But at least he tries, and has worked out a method of communication with us to indicate that his bladder is bursting.  Now we just have to get him to plan ahead and not wait until the last second when he's already leaking.

Things also started clicking once the people camping in my next door neighbor's back yard moved on.  That was a difficult time, because if they made any noise while I was trying to get Stewie to take care of business, he would stand on his hind legs to peer over the little wall to see who or what made the noise.  Then he'd be obsessed with seeking out the source of the noise for the next ten minutes.  If I didn't have the time to wait for his attention to get back onto the task at hand, I'd take him inside, where he would immediately go on the carpet.

I'm trying to shake him out of his OCD moments faster by using the "leave it" command, but it's easier to distract him with treats -- you know, the treats I don't have time to get before he unleashes his bladder.  I know I could hang a fanny pack of treats from the hooks where the leashes are, but then Midge will get obsessed and sit under it all day pointing at the fanny pack with her nose.  So, I hide the treat bag in a place where the dogs don't hang out.

One day I set a pair of slip-on sneakers by the back door underneath the leashes, so that I wouldn't have to waste time hunting around the house for shoes in order to take the dogs outside.  A short time later, Stewie grabbed one of the shoes and carried it to me while I was running around the house folding laundry, doing dishes, and trying to repair an embroidery project all at the same time.  At first I was like, "Oh brother!  Typical puppy.  Now he's going to start stealing and chewing on shoes."

But then I paused.  "What if he's trying to tell me to put on my shoes because he needs to go outside?"

I followed that line of thought, took him outside, and sure enough, he peed like a fire hose, despite just peeing fifteen minutes before.  Since then, he will try to wake me up by bringing one of these shoes to me while I'm in bed.  Amazingly, he's pretty good about not chewing on shoes.  He's learning to decipher between the toys he can chew vs. other items that belong to the people in the house.  But he is a thief.  He often runs into my daughter's bedroom and emerges with her laundry or her bicycle lights, so she has to keep her door closed.

Another training challenge has been to get him to accept kisses on his face and head.  When I took him to the neuter clinic, a vet tech kissed him on the cheek and he bit her on the face.  We were all rather shocked.  I didn't expect him to do that any more than she did.

Later, at home, I tried kissing him gently on the head, and sure enough, he whipped around and tried to bite my nose.  Other times he went for my lips.  Once he even tried to bite my eye.  I could see the fear in his expression.  He seemed to mistake kissing as people trying to bite him.  I could kiss him on his body and blow raspberries on his belly, and he didn't mind, but he was very sensitive around the head.  So, I worked on desensitizing him to being kissed around the face and head, and letting him know that biting is a no-no, while kissing is a good thing.  He slowly replaced his biting response with licking, which to me is a dog's way of showing affection... or at least working some salt into his diet.

I'm hoping this virus will run its course soon, because I've got plans for the weekend that are going to be somewhat physically taxing.  My To Do List has been getting longer by the minute since I have been trying to rest and am not actually doing anything on it.  Pretty soon it will be a book.  Hmmmm.  Maybe I can sell it as an e-book.  It would begin something like this:

NuzMuz's To Do List

1.  Clean up dog poop
2.  Take puppy outside
3.  Scrub and steam vac pee and vomit out of carpet
4.  Take puppy outside
5.  Clean up horse manure
6.  Take puppy outside
7.  Go back to #1 because by now the bodily excrements have quadrupled since the last time you did it... oh, and don't forget... take puppy outside... oh yeah, and try to make time to use the bathroom yourself, but put the dogs in the dog run so that they can't interrupt you to insist that they need to go more urgently than you...

I'm not kidding you.  Several times I have tried to take care of my own needs only to have Stewie run into the bathroom either carrying my shoe or dragging his leash behind him to tell me he has to go N-O-W, or have Scrappy jump up and open the bathroom door after I closed it to keep them out.

Okay, scratch everything I just said about Stewie's potty training coming along.  Just now he was barking from the back of the house -- something he never does.  I got up to investigate why he was being so vocal and found that he was barking at me to tell me to clean up the turd he just left on the bedroom carpet just ten minutes after I took him outside.

Dogs!  Can't live with them.  Can't live without them.

Disclaimer:  I cannot be held responsible for any additional vomit that was produced by my readers during the reading of this blog post.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I got Midge to the vet despite me still being sick, but it was a good thing because she had a fever of 105 degrees. She's being hospitalized over the weekend, and she tested positive for pancreatitis again.

Crystal said...

Oh shoot sorry about Midge. And your stories on Stewie, makes me never want a puppy again (I didn't anyways but now I remember why, lol)

Sam said...

You do have your hands full! I'm so sorry.

I had a Golden years ago that got sick when ever anything else got sick - dog, cat, human... I mean vomiting only. Our first goal was to always get her outside before she could see whatever mess had been made, or we would have two messes to clean up. Since at that time we were rescuing a significant amount of cats/dogs it could be a daily occurrence. I'll keep fingers crossed that your housekeeping woes with Stewie taper away. We are three months accident free with Harlow - and yes, I feel like putting a banner up outside - and keeping our fingers crossed that it stays that way. Our house right now is like a tunnel. Every room and extra space is blocked off to limit where she can wander. We are going to give her a couple more months and slowly reopen those areas.

Feel better!

ryde2rope said...

I have a question?.. Why do you have animals if all you ever do is complain about them.... I have not seen very many posts about how rewarding they are.... how much love and joy , and companionship they give you. How they make you smile how they complete your life. Its always complaining about the bad things they do or how much $ they cost you. ... :( kinda sad.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

ryde2rope - Yeah, I kind of find your artwork to be sad too.

You aren't with me every day playing with my dogs and horses, so I'm sorry that you miss out on all the fun.

achieve1dream said...

Yeah I was about to say if you don't like the complaining ryde2rope don't read the blog. Blogs are sometimes our only place to vent.

Sorry about Midge I hope she's okay. I had a dog with pancreatitis once and it is no fun.

For Stewie's housebreaking you may need to go back to the crate training. The way he is acting to me means he doesn't understand that relieving himself inside is wrong. Puppies need to be taken out every time they eat, drink, sleep, play and when they come out of the crate so yeah basically all the time lol. Unfortunately every time he goes inside the house he is being strongly self reinforced for the behavior so it needs to be prevented. Jackal learned to ask to go outside but he also didn't know going inside was bad until I started watching him like a hawk and clapped my hands, said no, took him outside and praised when he finished up outside. Is very time consuming but having the outside yard should help when he figures out he can potty in it.

Also both of my dogs were bad about asking to go outside and then holding it to prolong how long they were outside. To fix that if they didn't go when I took them outside they immediately went back into the create and I tried again in ten minutes. After they potty outside I would praise them and play around a bit before going back in. Taking them in as soon as they potty is what taught them to hold it to stay outside. Smart little devils hehe. I hope this helps. I know how frustrating housebreaking can be with small dogs. Email me if you have questions. You know I'm happy to help with dog training.