Friday, August 17, 2012

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

It's easy to forget that Marty is a puppy.

Marty is a big guy, 36 lbs, and due to his cautious nature, was pretty well behaved in the house.  

It was pretty easy to be comfortable of a timid puppy who didn't really run around the house, was too scared to pee or poop inside (he had to use the corners in the backyard), and really just wanted to lay on my lap since no one else really gave him attention.  

Now that he's more comfortable (a big part of this is James moving in), he has no problem running around the house, wanting to play, and just generally being a happy dog.  Now these are all big pluses.  Of course I want my puppy, especially a shy guy like Marty, to be a bit more adventurous and happy-go-lucky, but this has come at a price.

Because of timidity, I think I fell into a training rut with him, since I wasn't too worried about him going to the bathroom in the house or chewing anything up.  As he's gotten more comfortable, he's gotten a bit more destructive (gnawing on shoes, sheets, etc) and has have 3 accidents in the past week.  

I sometimes liken his little puppy brain to a computer.  Whenever he learns something new, he forgets something else.  For example, over the past 2-3 days he's realized that he can poop anywhere on walks.  He doesn't have to find a specific spot that he loves in the park or the church near my house, he can just go on the grass on the sidewalk.  This realization was great.  It makes walks a lot easier, since more areas smell like him making him feel more comfortable, and also helps me, since he now goes to the bathroom with more regularity (he was regular before, but we always had to go to specific "poop spots" which were the only places he would go, whereas now, he'll go 2-3 times on a walk, rather than all at once in a poop spot, and then having to go 2 minutes after we got home).

But as I mentioned earlier, since having this revelation, he's forgotten that he can't go in the house.  A perfect example was this morning.  We woke up a little before 6 (my alarm is set for 6:03).  We snuggled in bed a little bit, i.e. he licked my face and then rested his head on my chest, until my alarm actually went off.  Got out of bed and gave him breakfast.  As he was eating I grabbed my coffee mug and was walking back into the dining room to pour myself a cup.  Mid-pour I see Marty is done eating, and he's looking up at me, when all of a sudden he squats down (not a leg lifter yet) and starts to pee.  He got maybe a half second out before I yelled "HEY!"  This exclamation was followed by him immediately stopping, his ears pasting themselves to his head, and him running in a circle and looking at me.  

As I ushered him outside he was giving me a look as if to say, "Oh no, I peed inside.  I totally forgot I can't pee inside.  Can you forgive me?  I just had to pee and yesterday I realized I could go anywhere so I thought I could go inside but I forgot the original no inside rule.  I'm so sorry, maybe if I jump on you and try to give you kisses you'll forgive me.  Sorry sorry sorry sorry.  I love you...Hey look a bug."

Luckily, not much pee came out and I was able to soak it all up and out of the carpet and then spray some cleaner on and clean it up.  Not a big deal, but it was an odd differentiation from our normal morning routine.  Normally, I'd have let him outside about 2 seconds after I had added cream to my coffee.  But still, accidents happen, it's just weird that they keep happening on the carpet.

Another great thing is that Marty wants to play more often.  This is awesome.  It's so much fun to play with a puppy.  The downside is that Marty doesn't understand how to play with people and that he needs to be gentle.  The other night we were playing and I was rubbing his tummy.  Marty jumped up and crawled on top of me (we were playing and he had to win).  He stood on top of me and started licking my face (normal thing), when out of nowhere he opened his mouth and bit down relatively hard on the side of my face, between my cheek and my eye.  It wasn't hard enough to break skin, but it sure as hell was enough to hurt.  I  yelled "OW!" (whenever he gnaws hard, we don't tell him "No" we yell "Ow" to try to teach him to be gentle.  Other puppies make high pitched noises when they gnaw on each other too hard or play too rough, so this is supposed to teach him the roughness thresh hold.).  Unfortunately, this wasn't a training "Ow," this was a , "That really hurt, what the hell" sound.  

Marty instantly knew that something was wrong and started yelping and crying while running back to his bed.  I got up and walked over to the bathroom to make sure he didn't break the skin.  At this point I had to step back and think.  I didn't think scolding him would accomplish anything.  He knew he had done something wrong, that much was clear, but he probably didn't realize what he had done.  There was no way to recreate the situation, so I figured the best thing to do would be to sit in the chair by my desk and let him pout a bit.  When I sat down, he leaped onto my bed and gave me his puppy look (eyes wide, ears pushed back, head inching forward for a scratch).  It broke my heart, but I ignored him for 5 minutes, until he became interested in something else.  After this I got up and sat with him.  He started licking my hand (still knowing I was upset).  When he started gnawing on my hand, I instantly went "Ow," and then said "Hey."  He stopped gnawing for a few minutes. 

I'm researching the best ways to teach a puppy to be gentler when they play.  This is a really important lesson for him to learn since he will be a really big dog.  

Like I said, two steps forward, one step back, well two steps back in this case.  

Still, he's a good puppy and he's basically a 6 year old.  He's going to make mistakes and he's going to have accidents, it's just my responsibility to do my best to make sure he doesn't do them again.

Sorry for the long post, it's just been a bit of an up and down week.

Marty is also really excited to meet his grandma and grandpa this weekend!

Also, here's a cute pic that Aunt Steph took for us:

K, bye!

1 comment:

  1. Haha! We can't wait to meet Marty as well and take him shopping lol!