There are times in the lives of pet owners where we all get frustrated at one point or another with a behavior or a slow down in “getting it” while training our pet. Even me. And I hit that wall with Luna.
Luna wasn’t grasping the idea of house-training. She continually soiled her crate, sometimes right after we’ve come in from outside. I’ve tried all the tricks. Crate training- making sure the crate is not too big so she can’t go just in one area and still be able to lay down in another. Putting her on a schedule- during the day, Luna goes out every 2 hours. Praise- Luna receives a lot of praise for pottying in the right area, outside. Actually, I’d rather she potty in one area and not so much by the walk ways. But I’ve shortened it down to simply pottying outside for now. However, at 5 months old and after a little over 3 months of working on it, she wasn’t getting it. Because wasn’t getting it, her crate needs to be cleaned at least once a day, if not more. This causes great frustration. Great Frustration. And it’s enough to try the patience of a saint.
I’ve had to remind myself that Luna didn’t get the normal social upbringing most puppies do. She was hand-raised from the time she was 3 weeks old. Her mother wasn’t involved in the puppy rearing process from that time on. And herein lies the problem.
Hand-raised pups miss out on learning so much from their mothers. They don’t learn frustration tolerance, because they don’t have to fight for a nipple to feed (or be pushed away) by their siblings. They don’t learn acceptable social skills from their mothers and siblings. Bite inhibition is a great example of this. Puppies removed from their mothers and siblings before the age of 8 weeks tend to “not get it” when another pup (dog, person) squeals to let them know they bit too hard. And, apparently, there is some sort of potty habit taught by the mother dog.
When puppies are born, they can’t crawl away from the den space to relieve themselves. At a young age of a couple weeks, they still aren’t even aware of their bladder needs. To encourage their pups to potty, the mother dog will lick them to stimulate the pup to relieve them self. And she will clean them up along with any waste product produced.
At around 5 weeks old, the pups are big enough to start moving away from the den area and begin to relieve themselves away from their sleeping space. The question remains whether or not any of that instict/behavior is taught by the mother dog.
With Luna’s remedial house training 101, I quickly discovered that she wasn’t holding it beyond 1 1/2 hours. She also wasn’t signaling. She simply would wake up and relieve herself, then bark, cry and howl. However, she would hold it for 5 hours at night often, but not one second longer and not always. And after that middle of the night potty, she would move to her hour and a half schedule for the rest of the day.
For about a month, I washed her crate out at least twice a day. I took her outside to potty every hour and twenty minutes, exactly. I kept her crate near where ever I was (multiple crates as we have multiple floor levels) and kept my ears alert for the slightest stir from her. I was more sleep deprived and tied to the house than I was when Dude was an infant. And I was a lot crankier because of it.
And it wasn’t just house training that Luna was not responding to. She wasn’t responding to any other thing I was attempting to teach her. Not sit, not keeping her paws off of people, not coming when called. Just nothing.
I gave up on writing the Training Thursday posts because I was so frustrated with Luna’s inability to grasp anything that I began to doubt myself. After all, how could I teach my readers if I couldn’t get one silly pup to do anything I attempted to teach her.
Really, I gave up.
Luna suddenly became a dynamo with her recall. It was like a light switched on. And now she comes every. single. time. I. call. It’s amazing! Then she suddenly began to get the idea of sit and quit spinning around and jumping herself away from whatever position she was in instead of sitting. And, now we’ve had a dry crate for more than a week! She’s also holding her bladder for 4-5 hours at a time and all through the night! She’s finally got it!
So, the moral of the story here is if at first you don’t succeed in a reasonable time period, don’t give up! Keep trying and maybe try a few different methods. Keep setting your pup up for success and eventually you will succeed!