Since we got our puppy two weeks ago, I have been bragging. I’ve been saying how sweet she is, how she is perfectly crate-trained, how we taught her ‘sit’ and ‘leave it’, how she knows to let us enter first, how she never has accidents in the house, etc. My actions can be summed up in one word – stupid. The past couple of days have confirmed that I had no idea what I was talking about and am obviously a first-time dog owner…
WARNING: The rest of this post is a bit ‘bathroom’ graphic as any puppy-owner, or even parent, can relate to . . .
I usually like to keep my posts on the up-and-up but felt this was necessary for anyone following my recent dog chronicles. After doing A LOT of research and preparation, I felt like we were especially well-prepared for having a dog. In theory we were.
The foster family did a fabulous job in training Speckles and her siblings to use the puppy pads. Speckles adjusted very well to the crate, slept through the night (maybe only got up once), and only went to the bathroom on the pads as trained. She did so well that we felt we didn’t need a playpen and let her roam freely, when we were there, through the living room and kitchen. The problems began as we tried to acclimate her to pee and poop outside.
Since Speckles only had 2 of her 4 sets of shots, it was not yet safe for us to have her on the ground in public areas (see parvovirus). Though we don’t necessary want our dog to learn to relieve herself in our backyard, we felt it was important to get her used to being outside. It took several trips with her to get her used to the sounds, weather changes, and a leash. In fact, she just sat there. After a while we took off the leash and let her sniff around. She did pee on a small grassy part and we praised her. She pooped in another dirt section, and we praised her. We got her cleaned up and when inside we gave her a small piece of chicken. We tried to time her outings during the day based on her food/water intake and were often going in and out. This is when the downward cycle began.
Now she was thoroughly confused. She began peeing on towels that we had out for her to lay out. She pooped on the pavers in our yard versus the grass. Small puddles began appearing on our Pergo living room floor and linoleum kitchen floor. We put her in the back of our hatchback for a small drive to the pet store but she immediately peed on the towel (fortunately we had put a tarp down first). We replaced that and got in the car. After constant squirming in our arms while in the shop, we put her back in the car for about 10 minutes to finish our transaction. When we got back, we discovered she had peed again and saw traces of brown. Traces – meaning she pooped and then ate all of it to get rid of the evidence. Eiuw!
Accidents continued during the day. We tried to speak in a firm voice but she would run away and hide. We tried sitting nicely with her near her pads inside. My daughter even tried to show her the motions but Speckles turned her head away and my daughter said, “Speckles, I’m trying to show you how to poop here.” Now she avoids them all together. Two nights in a row she even peed on her towels in her crate (dogs don’t typically soil where they sleep).
6:30 am this morning I take her outside. She pees and I praise her. She goes down the walkway and begins pooping on the cement. I rush over to move her and I notice something hanging. As I set her down in the dirt to finish up, the poop that was hanging drops and I just happen to step right on it. For the next 20 minutes I am going through wipies and paper towels trying to clean everything up. I have to disinfect my Crocs and hose down the walkway. During this time I thought Speckles would be okay just finishing her breakfast. Wrong again.
After finally finishing, I walk inside and she her nicely sitting down. I worry that she is a bit too quiet. Cautiously I enter the living room and see a huge puddle in front of her crate. I raise my eyes across the living room to see a lovely pile of poop near the sofa with a small trail of droppings, showing the path she took back to the kitchen. I sigh and say, “Frans, I need help! Just watch where you step!”
While my husband took care of the pee, I did the other ‘duty’ and we got everything disinfected. It was like raising our daughter all over again, only she didn’t eat her own poop or leave trails in the house. Knowing that raising our voice doesn’t work with Speckles and praise is too confusing and tiring right now, we are now stuck. We decided that we underestimated our new puppy and gave her too much freedom too fast.
We have now restricted her to the kitchen once again and are hoping to get this new behavior under control. We still love her and know it’s just part of puppyhood. Now we are really starting to get a feeling as to how having a dog/puppy is like having another child. She’ll get her next set of shot in two weeks. After that we can take her for proper walks outside and enroll her in obedience classes. Until then, we will be disinfecting like madmen.