a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: More on Puppy Restraint

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

More on Puppy Restraint

For years I've been reading about leashing a puppy to you as you go about your day as a method of training. Teaches the dog to be aware of you and what you're doing, to go with you as you move and to stay out from under your feet. It always sounded like a real pain. However, I've done quite a bit of that with Boost and it's not so bad. The puppy is also exposed to all kinds of noises and activities around the house, and doesn't feel left out, and I don't have to keep an eye on what she's doing in her x-pen or worry about her being too confined in her crate. She gets a bit more exercise by moving around with me and also a bit more mental stimulation than being confined with even interesting toys.

It works best when I'm up and around doing things—laundry, dishes, putting things away, cleaning, brushing my teeth, whatever. It's not so cool when I'm just sitting in one place. She gets bored and usually when I'm sitting there are things around me that are not appropriate puppy exploration material.

I bought a light-weight 6-foot nylon leash that's easy to tie. When I walk her around the yard under control--for example, to be sure she's going potty instead of getting distracted by other things, or certainly the first week or so to keep her with me and to be able to watch what she was putting in her mouth--I just hold the handle of the leash at its full length.

When I've got her on leash at my side, I double over one end of the leash and tie a simple knot in that so that I have a loop on what's basically a 4-foot lead. Then I have a caribiner (just a basic lightweight one from Payless or somewhere similar) to which I can hook the loop. That gives her about 2 feet of roaming distance from me and enough slack to lie down, too.

The only bad thing is that, with Jake so hostile, I can't have Jake come up to me, although what I try to do is to pet him on one side of me while petting the puppy on the other side. Then Tika wants in, too, and I have only 2 hands.

Baby gate into kitchen with Boost protesting.
Babies got pointy teeths.

Then there are baby gates. I have one that expands and contracts in diamond shapes that I use across the entrance to the living room to keep the dogs out on a general basis. I know that these are bad because small children (and, I see, puppies) can put their heads through them, possibly get caught, and strangle themselves. That's assuming that they're unsupervised—so I wouldn't want the puppy to be roaming around unsupervised while she's still inclined to stick her head through the openings. I'd use something else, but I haven't found any baby or dog gate type things that will fit across the 6-foot door opening. (Hmm, maybe only 5 feet?) Its other advantage is that it folds up very small when I want it out of the way.

I have another one that's a wood frame with plastic strings woven across it as the barrier; it has an adjustable arm that allows it to snap snugly into place in various sizes of door frames. I've been using that to confine her to the kitchen part of the kitchen/dinenette area while I'm working in the kitchen or sitting at the table in the dinette. That's for a couple of reasons: One is that there's nothing in that room that the puppy can easily get into and damage (hmmm, except the stash of paper bags between the fridge and the cabinets, which she desperately keeps trying to dig out and occasionally succeeding, and I really don't want her to get into the habit of tearing apart paper bags that she finds, AND I really can't think of another convenient place to stash those bags (which I use for kitchen trash)). The second reason is that it allows Jake and Tika the run of the house and some time when they can be near me without the puppy there.

One problem is that the puppy can get her teeth around the plastic mesh. This is not a gate that can be used unsupervised for puppies. Another problem is that I either have to remove the gate and replace it each time I want to get in or out of the kitchen or else streeeetch on tiptoes to swing my legs over the gate— hard enough normally but particularly trying when I'm already tired at the end of a long day. And then there are the times when the puppy just wants out and starts throwing herself at the gate and biting at the plastic. It's tight enough at the moment that it doesn't pop out when she hits it, but I don't know how long that will last.

Her original home had metal swinging gates installed in key doorways for dog control. They really need those, with 5 large dogs in a small house. But they're not particularly attractive and there's no quick and easy way to get them out of the way when you want them gone.

So I try to balance various methods—puppy off leash and running free in the yard with me supervising; puppy off leash in the house when she's calmer and willing to lie in one spot and chew on a rawhide, for example; puppy behind the gate in the kitchen or in the x-pen in my office; puppy in the crate when I need to leave her unsupervised for longer periods of time or when she's otherwise being a pill and I need to have some time not supervising; puppy on leash on my belt when I'm puttering around.

Fortunately she sleeps a lot. Even so, I spend a lot of my time dog monitoring.

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