Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ferberizing the dog

I knew all about Ferberizing (from the book by Richard Ferber) when one of my children (no names) cried and cried in his crib and just had to be left to cry it all out.

And now my vet has told me to Ferberize the dog.

This is not a baby dog. I expected Maddie to cry as a puppy. She is now a five-year-old dog who has developed a behavior problem which actually dates back some two years.

She was crate-trained, but when we let her out, she started having "accidents" around the house. The possibility was raised that she was not trained well because her first crate was too big, so I got her a smaller one.

The crate was a success. She has two toys in there and a soft place to sleep, and when she goes in, she gets a special treat. I lost track, but I think she slept in there for more than a year. She was so good that I decided she had earned her freedom.

Everything was fine for a couple of weeks, until she left a little something on the den floor.
The next day, it was a bigger something.

When our little dog Sam acted up, it was infuriating but not as much of a mess. When this affenpinscher-poodle mix got mad at my mother, he jumped up on her bed and left a present on her pillow. A very small present.

So what's up with Maddie?

I took her to the vet for her annual exam, where she drew praise by sitting very quietly while she got her shots.

The vet gave the answer to the dog in a question form, asking, "Why are you so mental?"

She said just to forget analyzing why she did it on the floor and just keep her in the crate. "You're going to have to Ferberize her," she said.

I had told the vet that some nights she is fine, but other nights she decides she'd rather sleep on the couch. I can hear her wailing away right under my room. She cried at 1 a.m. last week, right after she had gone into the crate, and I dutifully went down to see if she was OK. She gave me a quick look, grabbed a toy and made a beeline for the couch.

After the vet visit when Maddie sat there and heard that she should not be let out until a reasonable hour, she was fine for a few days. I thought maybe she had understood the plan and decided to just go with it.

But Saturday and Sunday she wailed away again. Katie was home and lent me a pair of earplugs. They didn't work. I tried sleeping in Ben's room because it is a little farther from the kitchen, but I could still hear the noise and eventually moved back to my room, where I toughed it out.

Last night she was quiet until 5:30, which was OK because I had to get up for tutoring at 6 anyway.

Now that Katie has gone back to school, if I hear a peep from downstairs, I'm going to move into her room, where Katie says she can't hear the dog at all.

Ferberizing is exhausting work.


Anonymous said...

forget ferberizing, and listen to your dog-interpreter, let her be on the couch...she is not a puppy -- she does not want to be confined in that crate...

dogs belong on the couch! on the bed! and, i well recall, how your Mother mentioned, rather with pride, that Sam chose to poop on her pillow, which was, of course, made of silk!

of course, he also did certain things when company came...

Here's to dogs on the couch! on the bed! always and ever in our hearts...
Henry Kissinger said to me, years ago, 'i've never seen such an affinity with my dog...' i replied that i was just interpreting for his English Lab, Amelia!

Ronni Gordon said...

Sorry but I think the vet knows what she is talking about.

PJ said...

I do too.

Nelle said...

My Sheltie is nearly seven. He will stand in front of me and whine at times to go out. He is just bored. He sleeps on the floor in my bedroom and sometimes he is restless and I just put him outside the room, shut the door and put on my IPOD. He doesn't bother to keep making noise because it wont' get him back in the room. I think your vet is right.