Friday, March 13, 2009

Potty Training Doesn't Have to be Hard

One of the bloggers I started reading just got a new puppy and expressed a little trepidation about potty training. I left a long comment on her blog but then thought I should formulate my experience here.

Trooper was our last potty training experience. Quinn was an adult when we got her and only peed once in the house - on her first night - so we chalk that up to nerves. Timber has never had an accident in the house since we brought him in (thank goodness!). All I remember from Kodiak is running with him in my arms (up side down like a baby) and having pee flying up in the air!

Little Trooper Bear

We brought Trooper home when he was 8 weeks old. Just a pile of fur. But already full of personality and spunk. He knew what he wanted and what he did not want. And he did NOT want to be in a crate.

That was just too bad for him because we were crate training and that’s all there was to it. I was the strong one. Trooper screamed…not just howled or barked…but screamed at night for at least 30-45 minutes every night for two weeks. I am not exaggerating. He would work himself up into such a dither that he’d try to bite his way through the plastic crate holes with his tiny little jaws…and end up getting his little jaws stuck. Imagine a squealing little pig with lots of fur. And yes, we did get up at that point to ‘unstick’ him (it was really obvious when it happened). We are talking full out tantrum.

Hubby constantly said, “can’t we just take him out for a few minutes” but I would immediately veto that idea. He has to learn. We have to win this battle of wills because he would learn how to get his way if we weren’t stronger willed.

Every night we had the same routine. All the dogs would go outside to “potty”. Then we would go into the bedroom. Trooper learned very quickly that if he went into his kennel he got a treat…so getting him in was no problem. A good thing too, since he’s now 85 pounds of muscle and I’d never be able to force him into a kennel.

But for two weeks he complained every night. He also did not go potty in his crate. He was young so we took him out to potty every few hours the first few weeks we had him. As he got older he started sleeping longer and longer. And he stopped complaining. His kennel became his home and his bed. He loved it!

As we would start getting ready for bed he would run to his kennel and stare at you “where’s my treat?” and sometimes we’d find him in there just for no reason (not just at bedtime).

Crating him was the very best thing we did for him and for us. When we went somewhere, he went into his crate and didn’t wake the neighbors up. It was his home. And he didn’t have accidents in his crate (well, he did but it was a stomach issue not his fault…and we worked through that). The few times we had to leave him for multiple hours he did good.

We would have had way more major issues with Trooper if we hadn’t crate trained him. Ignoring the tantrums was hard but temporary. It also established our “alpha” position with him as much as anything else.

Next post will be about how we potty trained when we were home and awake. :)

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