Sunday, May 16, 2021

House Breaking


Technically, I'm having a tough time housebreaking my puppy POTUS, and it doesn't help that he is so freaking enormous, I forget he is a baby. He's five months old and doesn't have the nighttime routine down yet. Today, I found out why.

At five am, I opened the door to let the dogs out. Paladin, the Sarplaninac was first out the door. The pup trotted out with her and sniffed the ground. Good start to the morning and it made me hopeful. Then Paladin lifted her head, sniffed the incoming breeze and a low growl rumbled from deep in her chest.  POTUS darted back inside and sat next to me. He didn't pee in the 40 seconds he was out.

I took him upstairs and opened the kitchen door. Brockle trotted outside and sniffed the air to the southeast, the puppy followed and did the same. Then, Brockle moved to the fence and began to bark. POTUS flew back and sat behind my legs. I grabbed my jacket and coaxed him outside. He came with me, but he cried and leaned against my legs, he wanted me back inside.

My two older dogs have taught him well. There were predators nearby, they had work to do, and the puppy was not invited. He listened to them without question and didn't pee outside because the big dogs told him to stay on the porch. I wish I trained as well as they do.

Previous me might have made assumptions about this pup. The first would be wondering if he may be timid. The second might be that POTUS is going to be difficult to housebreak. Go back to the waaaay previous me and I might have taken this as deliberate disobedience. Lucky for both of us, I know he is not timid. He is aware of his environment. He gages both my and the big dogs' reactions before making most decisions, well, except for stealing my slippers, those he just grabs and runs.

If I forced him outside or was angry while mopping yet again, I would be in direct contradiction with the big dogs. Their logic is sound, the puppy is not old enough to encounter coyotes. I wonder if this type of contradiction could plant the seeds of fear aggression. 

There are a lot of solutions out there. There are charts and crates and alarms and leashes to tie them to my waist. I'm certainly not criticizing any specific method. Current me has become more of an observer and thinker before acting kind of woman. POTUS is bright, sensitive, and already developing quite the vocabulary. He understands where I want him to poop and more than happy to oblige until he is forbidden to evacuate anything but the immediate area because the big dogs are on alert. 

My solution is this - I'm moving the final feed of the day back two hours. This will push poop time back to bright daylight, and fewer coyotes. Also, if the dogs are working, I'll leash him and go for a short, calm, walk away from the action until he poops. 

I'd like to think this is the solution, unfortunately, there is a small glitch in my system. Brockle and Paladin are complete jerks. Any given quiet, boring day, they will position themselves strategically so neither POTUS, nor the little dogs can go outside without passing them. Then, they take a nap, because they made a rule where nobody can go out until they decide to let them. This normally doesn't happen until there is at least one good dump in the house from somebody and I get to bring out the mop.

"Move," is a command all my dogs understand and comply to. I use it often. If I catch on to what they are doing, I can holler the name of the culprit, then "Move!" and the troublemaker will move aside. Because of this, no rotten dogs have been whacked with a mop in my process of sorting this out. I'm pretty sure this is not truly my big dogs being punks, but an instinctive positioning to guard us while they sleep. I prefer to humanize them and consider them dirty, rotten scoundrels messing with the weaker members of the scrum.

The dogs being blocked have learned to rat out those doing the blocking. They will bark until they have my attention and I fix the situation, although, on snowy winter days, everybody stays quiet, and my mop time triples. I'm pretty sure the scrum then morphs into a cabal, the dogs unite, and devise a plot to poop in the basement en masse. Then, they blame the current government.

Damn dogs.

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