a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Well, This is a Bit More Complicated Than Expected

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Well, This is a Bit More Complicated Than Expected

SUMMARY: Luke and company.  With only 2 interruptions.

This new dog is not, by any means, housebroken.

I'm trying to start over from scratch. I take him outside every time he comes out of his crate, after he's eaten, after he's played, and before I bring him into the house if he's been out in the yard for a while. And yet I had TWO pees in the house today:

  1. He and Chip were playing in my office, and then he played alone with his newly discovered Love, the Giant Dog Cushion.

    (This is after I had to soak with bitter apple the corner of the cushion's cover where the zipper pull is because he was determined to chew it off.) I was counting some things while sitting at my desk. Luke stepped away from the cushion and stood there panting. I dropped the file back into the drawer so that I could take him outside, and I said, Come On, and he bent his back legs and peed right there on the carpet. I had taken him out and watched him pee less than half an hour before that.
  2. I was lying on the couch. He and Chip had been playing. As often seems to happen after play sessions, it ends with Chip lunging and snarling at him. I managed to talk them apart and was soothing Chip. I stood up and walked briskly towards the door, saying, Let's go, Luke! and he briskly dashed ahead of me, stopping suddenly to pee on the sofa cushion leaning under the dining table.

Jeez. I don't know how to manage this!  I suppose I should post a photo of the huge pile of rags I've used in the last week.  I've had to refill the Nature's Miracle squirt bottle 3 times from the gallon refill.

Yesterday I think it was zero times, but he was in his crate and I was gone for over 8 hours total.

The day before, 3 times. Once I wasn't paying attention, and the other 2 times, somewhat like today, I was paying attention. And a few other times in the preceding days. Potty training feels like it's getting worse, not better.

I had not expected this.

[Hola! Just now it's been just over 15 minutes since last pee. Since then, a bit of playing with Chip, a bit of chewing on a bone, and then Luke just got up and started wandering around, nose down. Whipped him outside and sure enough he peed a bathtub-load! Where does a little dog like him KEEP all that pee? This is the problem--peeing. all. day. long, and me taking him out--all. day. long. But this time, at least, I won.]

I don't like the way the play often ends between the two of them, and I can't see what's making it happen that way. I'm delighted that they'll play wrestle for 3 or sometimes 15 minutes, and often in that casual we're-both-lying-down-and-gently-interacting kind of play. But, so often, suddenly Chip is going after Luke, and Luke today is starting to return the action.

I don't know whether to try to keep them separated all the time, or to just break up the play quickly after it starts, or what. Darn it.

Luke does not return thrown toys and in fact doesn't even always chase them. If I try to play with him with a toy, he ignores me or he grabs my hand & wrist & fingers (whatever's available), neither of which is lovely.  I thought that it wasn't hard enough to hurt, but sometimes it is when I'm not in an easy position to get him off, and I'm realizing that, yep, after a week, my wrists and hands are bruised.  (Here's a truly gentle finger grab.)

 I can interact with him with food, and that's mostly it so far.

He has definitely graduated from finding dog toys everywhere (for days I kept being amazed at how well he knew which were dog toys and which weren't for the most part), but now he's in full-on assault on anything that I might have worn (shoes), touched (something that fell on the floor), moved (wastebasket full of stuff), etc.

On the up side, he's still just as cute as ever.

He's very smart. I love it when he makes that eye contact to get a treat for something.

He made me laugh (and curse) at the same time,  as I tried to keep him in the kitchen with me by closing the doors during the times I was there--and within a day he had figured out how to jump down (and back up) through the railing overlooking my carpeted office.

Like Boost used to do.  Of the six dogs I've had in this house, these are the only two to do that. (Jake used to jump down, but never back up.)

[Whoa, look, now he has a pair of my underwear!  We're not into "Drop it," apparently, and I have to get his attention that I have treats before he'll consider whether it's worth it to come back for it. Nope, doesn't want the kibble in the pocket. I race for the Zukes in the cabinet while he races for the yard. Didn't I close off my bedroom door? Oh, right, moved it when I went upstairs for pain pills a bit ago. Up I go to close it off again.]

He never stops moving until he sleeps.

I managed to get some of his sewing-needle-sharp toenails clipped this morning, but it took a long time; I'd hold his paw, stick a treat in his mouth, grab my clippers, line them up on his toenail, and he'd be wiggling and grabbing at my hand already.  Not a lot, not like in terror, but like as in come on don't keep sitting here holding my paw!

He's getting better and better at sitting in the back of his crate and waiting for a release when I open the crate door (thank you, crate games), but getting onto the floor and back up, or bending to do it, even if I drag a chair over every time (which I stopped doing after the first day, jeez).

[OK, he's decided that it's time to jump on my hands and grab them, and I have to disentangle him and get him into his crate again. DEFINITELY nap time again, even though it's only a little before bedtime. Just like a toddler, I can tell when he needs a rest by the increasing level of brattiness. So far, he's never giving himself the luxury of just lying there.]

He comes in from the garage quickly after I go out for something and come back in, even if he's distracted, because he comes when I call (not from anywhere else, but from the garage).  I always have to remember how very long it took for Tika to decide to pay attention when I called her in from the garage.  A long long long long time, and I think she was older than Luke when she got here.

But All day long during the times when he's out of his crate (back in every couple of hours so I can rest or when he starts acting like a brat) it feels as if I'm constantly practicing back-away-from-the -treats-and make-eye-contact or stay-away-from the table-top or don't-get-into-the-trash or please-go-pee or I dunno whatever, dispensing treats often for many things and some things I see improvement but jeez I am physically exhausted.


TIRED. And sore.

I keep reminding myself: You knew he'd need work. You know that you'd have to give it at least 6 weeks to figure things out into a calmer life. You knew these things.  I just didn't expect to be working on the things that I'm working on, I guess.

And with all of this, I completely forgot about Chip's class yesterday morning, darn it.


  1. Sometimes cats will pee where they aren't supposed to when they are stressed, upset. Is it the same with dogs?

    1. @Edie, it's certainly possible. He's been through some interesting changes in his short life in living environments. But I think it's more that he doesn't yet understand that he can pick wherever it's convenient and must make the effort to go outside. That's my job.
      (Given his background, I'm actually not surprised by this, just got the impression that he was housetrained.)

    2. Typo -- that he CAN'T pick wherever it's convenient.

    3. Typo -- that he CAN'T pick wherever it's convenient.

  2. Hi Ellen-
    Having recently survived a very wild border collie puppyhood, and from having many completely nutso wild young resuces who have all turned into my very good dogs, here's some things I might do in your situation. Much of this is from the much help I got from our agility community during my most recent puppy hood with an extremely challenging puppy.

    Everything that comes up, don't freak out and look at as problem, just quick find solution. I have to always remember that all the time now. Don't freak out.

    I would keep them seperated with xpen and baby gates and not allow unpotty trained dog access to house. I literally have kept all mine on leashes with me at all times until potty trained, and that gets it to go pretty fast. I think the not letting loose in house helps a lot, starting with xpen, them moving out, both for potty train and becoming dog friends with others. Go slow to make dog friends. It is worth the tons of work it is in beginning to have nice manners! Nothing for free, everything earned until nice manners!

    Clicker train clicker train clicker train. Clicker train retrieve! Clicker train how to play with toys til not so bitey. Everything sort of a problem becomes clicker train. All meals are training! For leash walking, for waiting calmly, a lot of waiting calmly!!! I wish I had done even more waiting calmly than I did!

    I still use the manners minder for fingernails, brushing, it sounds like you are doing good with nails! Good luck! I am working very hard now to have the same calm nice manners during agility. It never ends!!!

    Laura H.

    1. My notes from 10 years back seem to indicate that I did have boost on a leash all the time or in her crate or xpen. I seem to remember that I got tired really fast of having her attached to me all the time when she wasn't in the pen. I know, I know, yep, it takes work to make a good doggie. What was I thinking? (I was thinking that it would be a cakewalk.) But also used to spend most of my home time in kitchen and office, where there's room for a big xpen or dog run (see the photo in this post: http://dogblog.finchester.org/2005/05/collie-ears-and-freedom.html). Here, it's furniture and nice carpeting and I'm spending most of my time here (in living room) because sitting hurts too much. So, lying down (well, lounging), which also makes having the puppy attached to me interesting. You are right about it all, of course. I've been doing clickering until my clickerer is tired, and handing out treats and treats and treats. Just, so much to work on! Where's all that energy that I had 10 years ago? Luke is gradually waiting more calmly for anything relating to food, as he gets a lot of clicks and rewards for that. Here's how today went: Me, five and a half hours at Kaiser and at work, then home and the puppy out for an hour with me working on peeing him before he comes back in, monitoring, rewarding, trailing him, working on Chip's activities too, and an hour later I'm exhausted all over again and Luke is back in his crate for a bit. I have had the Manners Minder out once for a little while, hmm, didn't think about it for fingernails. You're also right... it never ends! Their learning and my learning!

  3. Darnit, fixed another of those too-common errors in one paragraph where I said Chip and meant Luke.

  4. One other thing you may think about. Could he have a bladder infection? I know eveyone says male dogs dont get bladder infections but two of my male dogs have had bladder infections. Symptoms: peeing in the house. Just a thought.

    1. I did think about that, and I thought I had mentioned it as a possiblity, but did rewrite a bit so I guess not. You're not the first other person to mention it, too. I just think--still--inexperience plus new home.