Apr 26, 2016

House Training - a Toasty Posty

I apologize, but something about Toast makes me baby-talk and babble in the worst possible cutesy manner.  This didn't happen with Luke, but his name doesn't rhyme as well, and he also wasn't quite as young or as helpless.

Anyway, when we adopted Toast, the DHA assured us that she was house trained, and I wasn't thinking about the fact that 8 months old is really only 2/3 of a year, far from full grown (1 year is adolescence and they don't really settle down until 1.5 or 2).  Toast didn't seem very puppy-like with her extreme fear and shyness of humans, and the first several weeks were unmarked by accidents (in part because she was too afraid to get up and move around on her own).  When she started having accidents, we thought the first couple were just fluke incidents, and scolded her (gently), before taking her outside to remind her of the proper place for these bodily functions.

A month and a half in, it became pretty apparent that Toast was not, in fact, house trained in any way.  As she lost her fear of us, and became less concerned about being vulnerable in front of potentially dangerous eyes, she quite freely eliminated wherever she happened to be when nature called.

When the realization that we would have to house train her hit, I was bummed.  So much work!  And I really didn't know where to start.  I googled it and what?  I have to go out with the dogs EVERY SINGLE TIME???  And carry treats EVERYWHERE I GO???

It's not that big a deal.  It seemed horrendous at the time but it only took a week or so for me to settle into the training role.  I have a very cool treat pouch with a shoulder strap.  It's actually convenient since I have to carry poop bags anyway, and this has a dispenser built in.  I also have a clicker (literally a plastic device that makes a clicking noise) so we can let Toast know she's doing the right thing even if she's feeling too skittish for treats (which was a definite problem at first - we'd toss them on the ground but even then she wouldn't always take it).  It's basically a diaper bag for dogs.

It took maybe another week to convince Ryan that this whole training thing would work a lot better if we were consistent and he also clicked and treated and that I'd be much more willing to do my part in preventing lawn burn if he did his part in house training.

And now?  It's easy.  Accidents still happen sometimes if we don't keep a close enough watch, but Toast is starting to expect treats after going outside and we make a point of taking her out every time she gets up and goes to the door, so she knows the right place to go and how to get out there.  I feel a lot more confidence that we will have her successfully house trained at some point, and when accidents do occur?  No big thang!  Cleaning up pee isn't a big deal after you've done it 10 times.  AND my mom said our house doesn't even smell like dog, so I'd say we're winning.

If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's that everything new seems hard until you get comfortable with it.  When we first got Toast and I realized we couldn't leave her alone, and she was getting growly if we let her on the bed, but barking in the crate, I hit a point where I was so stressed and frustrated that I was daydreaming about not having gotten her.  Adopter's remorse.

I knew logically that we'd get through it, but I spent several days tense and stressed.  The best thing I did (my go-to coping mechanism in similar situations) is focus on the end result.  Just like with Luke, in 6 months or a year, the idea of feeling this stressed and unhappy about the situation will be laughable.  And we'd probably love her just as much then as any other member of the family.

It's not 6 months later, but it's already gotten much, much easier.  Each look from her sad, little eyes, each (rare but increasing) tail wag, and each time she breaks out of her shell and does something incredibly doggy, she burrows a little further into my heart.  I already can't imagine not having adopted her, and I'm that much more excited to see where we'll be in a year.

How do you stay focused on the positive in stressful situations?  Did you love your pets from the get-go or did you need an adjustment period?

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  1. I had no adjustment period with Hawkeye, she was always family. But, she has potty pads. When we move into this new house with a yard, John wants her to be fully house broken, no more potty pads. She's 7 (tomorrow). I told him good luck.

  2. I baby talk to Max too and get real high-pitched too, which is kind of weird. :) I have a cat so I've never dealt with the whole potty training situation but I know it can be pain. Toast is lucky to have good parents like you to help him. I loved my cat Emeril instantly. I liked Max a lot but was still a bit (okay, a lot) heartbroken over Emeril's passing when I adopted him. Now we are BFFs and I adore him.

    1. Ha! Yeah... every once in a while I stop and listen to myself and it's like, "What am I even saying???" I started calling Toast "Poodle" because toast is kind of like toaster strudel, and toaster poodle is funny because it's a dog name, and then poodle for short. But she'll never learn her name if I call her weird other stuff!

      I can't even imagine losing a pet. I will absolutely be heartbroken when it's Luke's time and the idea of a new pet just seems blasphemous (which is part of the reason we got Toast now, because I don't know if I'll be able to do it then).

  3. House training is the worst!!! Both of my dogs were very stubborn in their training. I wish you all the luck, it sounds like you are on the right path.

  4. Toast always looks likes she's suspicious of you in pictures!

    I need a doggie diaper bag in my life.

    I trained Marina to go to the bathroom outside with treats, dogs will work for some food.

  5. 'everything new seems hard until you get comfortable with it'. yes. i'm glad its getting better.

    as for adopters remorse, yep, been there. penny was great, introducing chelsea was hard for 2 weeks and then perfect.. then we got millie and shit hit the fan. we've had her for almost 2 years and her and penny still fight, millie still meows all night.. it's hard. i love her, i would never ever ever ever get rid of her or take her back, i would never un-do getting her, but she totally messed up our balance. kc and i joke that when we have 2 kids and we are considering a 3rd, we will remember millie and stop. but in all seriousness, when she paws at me to make me pick her up and hold her like a baby and she purrs like a nutter, i mean how can i stay mad? but yeah. its hard, and i think totally normal.


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