Saturday, October 16, 2010

Back to basics with the dog

Maddie watches Simba swim in the lake.

Nobody likes to go backwards. But as we learn through challenges large and small, it's often one step forward, a step back and, hopefully, another step (or two or three) forward.

I say this because I took a step back with Maddie, which I will explain shortly. The miracle dog is a delight, but she drives me crazy in perpetuating an old habit, leaving a little "present" on the floor overnight.

I don't need to be cleaning up after a dog. Plus it makes me dislike her, starting the day on a downer. The dog is three years old. Enough already.

She doesn't do it all the time. A trainer told me to keep a log of when she does it, to see if there's a pattern. But there isn't. I take her out at night between 11 and 11:30. She has the run of the house, and comes up to joyously get me out of bed between 6:30 and 7 a.m. We go downstairs, and sometimes I find nothing and sometimes I find a little pile.

The vet said the only solution was to get a crate and retrain her. I resisted. I thought I was done with crates. It's kind of like putting your child back in diapers.

But finally the other day I had enough. I came down and there it was again. "That's it," I told her. "You're going in a crate tonight."

She wagged her tail.

I took her to a big pet supply store where they showed me the right size crate. I usually have only plain dog biscuits, but for the occasion I splurged on a "party sack" of Snausages in beef, bacon and cheese flavors. I later realized they were shaped like cars, hydrants and shoes. Do dogs really notice these things? For good measure, I got another special treat: A pig's foot. Yum.

The first night – the night before last – I put her blanket in the crate along with two of her favorite toys. I was afraid that after having so much freedom she would complain, so I talked up her new bed big time. This might sound a little nuts, but I think they react to your tone.

Then I threw in a few Snausages and the pig's foot, turned out the light, and went upstairs to bed.

I didn't hear a peep from her until she yelped around 7 a.m. Same thing last night.

Oh happy day. Nothing to clean up. Good dog!

Yes the crate is a step back, but it already feels like a step in the right direction.


pam said...

Runderful Ronni and Maddie!

here's to a good crate night's sleep! and to going outside!


Susan C said...

I liked your analogy about putting a dog back in a crate is like putting a child back in diapers. I'm glad the "setback" seems to be doing the trick.

That's a stunning photo.

Nelle said...

I think the crate was the right move. I like to think that at any age all creatures, even human, can be retrained from bad habits. If she is like my dog who wakes me up throughout the night it may help you get more sleep as well.

Jonny said...

One summer I took my son's black lab Madison a/k/a "Maddie" up to visit him, sister + ex at the Cape to stop their collective (including the dog's) whining/longing for each other. I tried to sleep with the dog in a tent in an nearby campground (no pets at the rental house). It paced around the inside of my tent for an hour like a crazed jackal until I couldn't take it anymore. I got up, pulled her collapsible crate out of the car, assembled it, covered it with the tent fly, stuffed Maddie in it, and we slept nose-to-nose through the cage bars all night.

I needn't tell you who got the better night's sleep.

Sometime's it's a dog's life...and sometimes its the life of a dog.

One paw back, three's easier when you're a quadruped, but keep at it.


PJ said...

Maybe you won't have to use the crate for too long. You're doing the right thing, boss.