Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Kirby's In the Dog House

No, I'm not talking about architecture. I'm talking about a puppy who decided to nullify my last blog post by having an unannounced accident in front of the back door yesterday evening. Actually it was not entirely unannounced. The little dickens peed first, then rang the bell. When I came running to take him outside, I found a neat, round wet spot in the rug in front of the door. Apparently he figured "better late than never."

These are the moments when I don't know what to do. Dog training experts say that once the deed is over, the puppy doesn't remember having done it, so it does no good to punish them if you didn't catch them in the act. Past experience and family traditions of dog rearing suggest the "grab the puppy and stick his nose down next to it while firmly scolding" method. In this case, it was hard to believe that Kirby had totally forgotten that was his puddle. It was fresh and I came within seconds of hearing the bell.

Kirby seemed pleased that I came, but as soon as I laid eyes on the puddle, he headed under the couch. I opted for the traditional approach...grabbed him, pulled him out and re-introduced him to his own puddle. Kirby knew I was mad. My husband came running when he heard the scolding and shortly Kirby knew he was mad also. I took him outside, he finished going about two drops and then, upon returning, remembered what he had done and ran for the back bedroom. We had to coax him out to reassure him that we still love him and eventually the trauma of the ordeal was over.

Now I'm not sure what would have been the proper reaction in this case. Here we have a 9-month old puppy, supposedly housebroken, able to hold it in motels and other peoples' houses without problems. He had just been outside not long before the incident occurred and had done his business. He peed mere inches from both his bell and the door. But it was on the rug he's had accidents on before (it's been washed and treated with enzymes, though).

Could it be that he somehow got the message that going on that rug is "ok"? Is he smelling the lingering molecules of accidents long past? By not catching him in the act on a couple of occasions and not reacting, could we have sent the wrong message? Are we going to have to move so Kirby won't have an "ok pee spot" in the house? (We're moving anyway, but still...) Or is Kirby just going through that adolescent period where young dogs appear to completely forget what they know and/or they know they're doing something wrong and choose to do it anyway, just because?

I don't know. But our little Kirby is a little teenager in dog years, and he's not yet "grown up." I guess it's back to full supervision in the house. Sigh. So much for milestones.

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