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House Training Lament

Welcome to My Green Vermont - A Blog by Eulalia Benejam Cobb.
By Eulalia Benejam Cobb

Bisou, Bisou, what is going on with you? You will be five months old tomorrow, a well-grown pup in every way, lithe, well muscled, agile and coordinated. In just another couple of months you may, according to the norms of your breed, attain puberty. You are at the end of your puppyhood, and yet you are not house trained.

A couple of weeks ago, I thought you almost were. I would let you out with the big dogs and you would get right down to business. But since the snow arrived, I\’ve been finding your petites horreurs in the house.

I would have expected that the heavy frosts would have dulled the outdoor smells, made the back yard less interesting. On the contrary, when I let you out onto the snow you run around sniffing and digging and doing everything except what you\’re supposed to do. So despite the snow and ice and cold and wind I have been taking you out on a leash, as if you were a two-month old baby, and standing in the swirling elements while you run in circles around me and do, or do not do, your business.

I know exactly what the experts say to do when a puppy breaks house training: go back to square one. Back to the crate, back to constant supervision, back to the umbilical leash. (This last means that one clips the leash to the puppy\’s collar, ties the other end to one\’s belt, and goes about one\’s business trying very hard not to trip over the dog.) Basically, square one means that the puppy is either confined to the crate or under one\’s watchful eye 24/7.

Two days ago, that\’s what I did, remember, Bisou? You stared at me uncomprehendingly when I hooked your leash on the kitchen doorknob so I could eat breakfast in peace. When I tied your leash to my waist while I folded laundry, you tugged and chewed and stood on your hind legs, trying to get away. And when I put you in your crate during the daytime you protest with a repertory of yelps and yodelings designed to melt my heart.

You would think all this discipline would have an effect on you. But no. You are still distracted and unfocussed when I take you outside. And today, after our nap together, I followed you downstairs to let you out (I didn\’t want to put a leash on you because I thought we might trip going down the stairs). By the time I got to the back door, Wolfie and Lexi were there, but you weren\’t. I found you in the dining room, looking out the window. But I was suspicious, and found under the table…yes, another of your sins.

How can you be so fast and focused indoors, so slow and distracted outside? I have heard that lapdogs can sometimes be hard to house train. I know you think you\’re an Irish Setter, Bisou, what with your red feathers and gorgeous ears, but you are in fact a lapdog, and I\’m worried.

In fewer than ten days, there will be eight people and three dogs in this house. There will be a Christmas tree, and the usual hoopla and confusion. And I will not be able to focus exclusively on you, Bisou. Things have to get better, fast. They will, won\’t they, Bisou?

8 Responses

  1. I think she thinks that the house is her world and the outside is another universe. Your will will win but this will be a challenge: she's not a GS remember 😉 She's not smart,loyal and aiming to take care of the world. She's smart and a Diva.

  2. Mika's breeder acquired a Yorkshire terrier in addition to her 27 (or so)Labradors primarily so that she could have a dog with her when she traveled. She who had house trained hundreds if not thousands of large dogs said there was nothing like trying to house train the Yorkie. After 6 months she was still having accidents. Pam, the breeder, did have a breakthrough finally – the specifics of which I have forgotten (sorry)- but it was something along the lines of giving up the anxiety about it. You might give her a call if you get truly desperate but I think the take home message is that little intense dogs are indeed much harder to house-train.And on a different note it is refreshing to see the 's' doubled in 'focussed' as the practice seems to be following the subjunctive into stylistic oblivion!

  3. I just realized that I've been spelling \”focussed\” both with one and two s's–trying to please everybody, no doubt.As to house training–you all paint a dire picture. I'll just have to make sure I keep my own focussss. So far, 15 hours without accidents. But I haven't gotten very much else done, either.

  4. it took toby 8 months. and he wasn't a lap dog. it was me: i had no clue what i was doing and i thought crates were cruel.for bijou, i'd go back to the crating. melting yaps or not.

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