February 23, 2012

Guess I need training in potty training

Imagine this: Yesterday, Jeff was on the couch and stopped mid-sentence give an elaborate movie style "Nooooo!" He sprung up and rushed Holly who had about to squat on the floor. She was startled and bolted, with Jeff right behind. Jeff managed to get his hands on her and she flattened out, with her belly on the floor, peeing, while trying to scramble away. He later told me it looked like Holly was trying to swim through it. He flipped her around (still spraying) and carried her outside.

When we first got Holly we were told that her background was unknown for the most part. I don't know if she spent her first few months in a box, tied up in a yard, or left to wander around and fend for herself. What was clear, was she had never been a traditional indoor pet. She spent a month or so at The Family Dog Club before we got her. Good thing was it began to expose her to being around people and a house, but the in the context of being around a very large pack of dogs, and no direct supervision. So, when she did use the bathroom indoors, it went uncorrected. 

When I brought her home it was apparent she was not a fan of being in her kennel. I limited her kennel time to when she slept at night, and if I wanted to give each of the dogs a special treat they could try and steal from each other. For me, crate training was out as a viable option to help house break her.

There is a second method where you tether the dog to you so that you can interrupt a dog at the signs of trouble and bring them outside. We tried this, but the concept scared her. If you moved too quickly, she would shut down and be dragged. The first time I heard her thunk into a door frame, I gave up on this idea.

What have we been doing? Praise. Every time we go to the back yard she is supervised, and each time she uses the bathroom she gets cheers, loving, and attention. Often times she will come bounding over, tail wagging like she knows she accomplished something great. So, Holly understands that using the bathroom outside is good. What we are missing is the part that using the bathroom inside is bad. 

Holly has no pattern. She doesn't yet respond to the command "potty", she doesn't try and use the bathroom every time we go to the yard. She doesn't even mess in the same spot indoors. What makes this harder is that almost never "catch" her in the act. You can't correct a bad behavior after the fact, they won't know what it is you're punishing them for, so we have been waiting for a chance to interrupt her... Cut to yesterdays blooper reel.

For all those interested in possibly adopting Holly, don't despair. She is making progress. Holly doesn't have accidents regularly. There are days that string by without incident. In the month she has been with us, I think there has been about ten accidents. She can also hold her bladder for hours comfortably. She never messes in her kennel at night and doesn't hide to use the bathroom outdoors. These are all good signs. Positive reinforcement is working, but slowly. In the mean time I need to start looking up some new training techniques. 


Post a Comment


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More