Friday, February 26, 2010

Potty Training Buffy

When a young boy and girl in Maurice Sendak’s (Where The Wild Things Are) and Matthew Margolis’ children’s’ book Some Swell Pup or Are You Sure You Want A Dog get a dog they encounter the challenges of having puppy. If you have a child that wants a dog you should definitely check this book out as it brilliant expresses what it means to have a pet and the true nature of what a puppy is. This book shows a puppy being cute but also shows the puppy, well being a puppy, chewing on furniture, play biting, yapping and going to the bathroom in the house.

The boy and a girl have a dream the first night after having the puppy and the girl imagines the dog saying to her: “The Girl’s Dream: I kiss your head madam – I shall be your slave forever, love you best, and never bite, chew, or go to the bathroom.”

Sometimes it seems that people forget that dogs need to pee and poo. One of the biggest issues you see on dog training shows are dogs that are not house trained. Maybe it’s because Diana and I are sort of neat freaks but getting Buffy potty trained was the highest on our priority list when we first got Buffy (followed by socialization and bite inhibition).

Leading up to the first day we had Buffy, we read many different puppy training books and the approach that made the most sense and the one that we felt the most comfortable following was Ian Dunbar’s Before and After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy and Well-Behaved Dog. This book describes Dunbar’s philosophy on how to train dogs with positive reinforcement which was a revolutionary idea when he first hit the scene in the late 1970s.
His approach to potty training was utilizing short-term confinement (here’s an excerpt). The idea is that a puppy will not eliminate in their crate, unless the crate is too big, Laff, the morning after the first night we had Buffy I found a towel we gave her as a blanket piled up in the corner of the crate. Inside the towel was a little piece of poo. After that we made her crate smaller and didn’t have that issue. The schedule for Buffy her first couple weeks as Dunbar prescribes:

7am-take Buffy outside to pee
7:10am-Buffy eats breakfast, plays a little bit
8am-take Buffy outside to pee then goes back put in crate
9am-take Buffy outside to pee/poo, then goes back in crate
etc.

Well, basically, every hour we took her outside to her pee spot, then she had maybe 10 minutes to play and then she went back to her crate for 50 minutes and the cycle repeated. On average in that first week we were taking Buffy outside to eliminate maybe 14 times. Now every time she went outside she didn’t necessarily go. In those cases we put her back in her crate for 20 minutes and then we would take her out and try again.

Instead of going out every hour after a couple weeks that time was slowly extended however Buffy still spent most of her time in her crate. Buffy did have accidents, probably less than ten and they were all our fault for not taking her out when she needed to go, not hers.

Does this sound crazy? Well, here was the result: when Buffy was sixth months old when she was potty trained and she hasn't have any accidents since then.

Crate training is not cruel, dogs in nature make dens for themselves and like babies, they feel a sense of security in a smaller place. In a crate is the right size, the dog will let you know when it needs to go outside, which is how Buffy has developed a very distinctive whine when she needs to go out. Now not all dogs take to their crate as well as others and we were lucky that Buffy did.

If you do the work and take the time to train your dog as a puppy then it truly does pay off. Your dog has the rest of its life to run around the house and sleep on the bed if you like. Spending the first couple of months with the dog spending most of his or her time in the crate is a small price to pay for having a dog that you can trust to not soil your house or your friend's houses.

Sorry little girl, puppies pee and they poo. It’s gross and picking up after your puppy is not fun, but it’s part of the gig. If you are not committed to house training your puppy and picking up your dog’s poo every day for over a decade, DO NOT get a dog. But if you are, go for it, you won’t regret it.

btw. . . .Buffy Tang has a facebook page!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment