If life was easy then a new puppy one new obedience maneuver at a time would be the way that things went, sadly that isn’t so. Right now we’re teaching Mal the Wonderpup about a gazillion things at once and personally I just don’t know how the poor little fellow isn’t losing his shit right about now.
Here he is living in a new house that’s full of wonderful smells and so many amazing things that look like they are the most awesome chewy things on the planet and poor Mal can’t put even one thing into his mouth.
About a million different times a day he’s barked at to ‘drop it’ or we squeal out a horrible ‘no’ and the poor guy is getting it. He’s learning that the kids are not in fact chew toys, no matter how soft and squishy their arms are. We’ve already lost two shoes, and not even the same pair, and it’s an ongoing battle to teach him that our footwear are not for his little teeth to sink into.
It seems that Mal’s motto right now ‘If it’s on the floor, or somewhere I can reach, or somewhere I can jump up, climb to or knock over so that I can reach it, then it should be my chew toy’. And we have to keep him under constant surveillance, if we slack off it’s our fault that he chews one of the daughters favorite new flip flops that she just got a few weeks ago, and has only worn once. If he chews up the cord on one of the nunchuks from our Wii, well whose fault is that?
Sadly the flip flop and nunchuk happened on my watch, but in my defense it was late and I fell asleep, but still it didn’t lesson the heartache or make the $60 to replace the nunchuk any less.
Our other wonderful undertaking that can’t be left until the behaviour falls into place would be housebreaking. This is something that we’ve been working on since day one, and while it’s slow going with many set backs that leave me scrubbing the floor and carpet and hosing everything down with Petzyme
to keep it smelling less like a puppy outhouse and more like a pleasant floral garden.
The method being used for teaching the little piss machine to use the great outdoors as his personal toilet is one of negative and positive reinforcement, and before anyone jumps in to give me a shit kicking, let me quickly add that negative reinforcement does not include beating the crap out of my loving pup.
Positive reinforcement is the easy part, when he scratches at the door or barks to let us know he’s got to go, and then when he actually does relieve himself outside he gets oodles and oodles of praise and of course a little treat to let him know how happy and proud we are about his potty training skills.
Negative reinforcement has me grabbing him and carrying him to the scene of the crime, if it’s been a matter of seconds that he’s performed his wet little deed, and holding him by the scruff and telling him in a stern voice that this is a no-no. I also hold his muzzle and make him look me in the eye, he hates this and wants to scramble away fast as he can. That’s the extent of my negative reinforcement, just to make him upset or uncomfortable.
And my methods seem to be working because he’s scratching at the door and going and doing his business outside. Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of puppy piss milling around this house, mostly because I’m busy and miss him scratching and the others in the family aren’t paying attention either.
I’m thinking that perhaps making up a ‘puppy sitting schedule’ for when we’re all home, all of us take a certain amount of time in which we’re responsible for the pup, then it’ll be less likely of him being ignored because we’ll all know who’s job it is instead of hoping someone else is paying attention to Mal.