Granny Knows Best
Don’t you just hate it when your parents are right? No matter how old you are, it still gets under your skin. It happened to me again -- my mom was right.
We’ve been struggling a bit with potty training. Don't get me wrong, we're making progress; slow progress.
Maybe it’s me, or maybe it’s because there are two of them (making it twice as difficult). Maybe it’s the fact that I’m trying to pee pad train them on the balcony (for the harsh winter weather) while at the same time I'm trying to train them outside.
No matter what the answer, we need to have these guys potty trained before the snow flies.
Words of Wisdom
My mother (the pups’ Granny) came to visit last weekend. As usual, mom and I sat down with a bevvy to solve all the problems of the world. This week’s major problem -- potty training.
I was frustrated, I was tired, and I was (once again) at my wit's end.
Fortunately, Granny is very good about offering advice only when asked. Last weekend, I wasn’t just asking, I was begging.
She told me she thought perhaps I was giving the rugrats too much freedom.
What?! No way. I crate them at night, I block off half the house during the day … what more can I do?
The answer: small spaces.
Wait, been there, done that. Argh.
“But I had them in a gated off playpen last month and you criticized that,” I retorted, reminding her of the epic sh*% storm (full story here in case you missed it).
“That was still too big,” she replied calmly, reminding me of the baby crib she and my dad used to contain our golden retriever puppy back when I was a child.
My parents chose the baby crib because it was easy to set up the living room where all the “action” was happening. Little Rocky never felt left out, or locked away. And, as we know, dog’s do their best not to have accidents where they sleep. The crib was a small enough space that Rocky didn’t make a mess.
“So what, you just left him in the crib for a month?” I asked, still doubting this all-too-simple answer.
“Pretty much,” she said. “We let him outside to play or swim, and to go potty every couple of hours then put him right back in his crib. He learned to cry to let us know when he needed to go out, and we’d praise the heck out of him for it.”
Could it really be that simple?
Aha! That's the hard part! Getting your puppy to go potty when you take him outside is easy. Teaching him to tell you when he needs to go potty, that's a different story. That's the piece of the puzzle I've been missing.
Back to the drawing board
So I took a step backward … again.
I didn’t want to lock them up in their night time crate all day long. It’s tucked away in our bedroom, and I didn’t think that was fair. I also didn’t want them to beg to get out at night.
So I ordered a second crate that I plan to put in the living room.
While I wait for the second crate to arrive, I’ve gated a small area in my office where the kids stay during the day. I put a cozy blanket and some toys inside, just like I put in their night time crate. This way, they’re never out of my sight, and they’re never able to sneak away to have an accident.
Every 1-2 hours, they get a potty break on the balcony, and every third hour or so, we go out for a nice long walk. How’s that been working out for us?
Wait for it …
Well, well … seems Granny does know best. I feel a huge sense of relief that there may actually be a light at the end of this potty training tunnel.
Mom, this one’s for you: You were right again!
Now, I’m not delusional, I know we still have a long way to go. The crate is arriving today (yay!) and I can’t wait to set it up. Not only will it help us expedite the potty training process, but it will also allow us to begin teaching the pups that it’s OK to be alone.
The new crate-training plan
Fortunately, I work from home, which means I can introduce the new crate slowly. I plan to begin by teaching the buggs that the crate is the best place in the whole wide world. Their safe place, their sleepy place, their happy place, and most of all, it’s where food happens!
I’ll make sure it’s warm and cozy. I’ll save the high-value toys for the crate (those are currently chew toys for teething), and I’ll give them interactive food dispensing toys (like peanut butter and banana stuffed Kongs). I’ll also start feeding breakfast and dinner inside the crate.
I plan to leave them alone in the crate (while I’m in the other room where they can’t see or hear me) for 15 minutes at first. Then I’ll let them out for a pee and quick play session. Then back in they go, this time for 30 minutes. Then out for a quick walk to explore outside and go potty. Then back in for 45 minutes … and so on.
I'll keep this up during my work hours, and mix in some training sessions, too. But in the evening, after din dins, we'll enjoy a good long walk followed by a play session and then some super snuggles.
The main thing here is making sure that when they're on the loose, they're in view. At all times!
Fingers crossed. Please send us positive vibes for success … and come back next week to find out how our new plan is working!