Problems & Solutions
Colby had a few undesirable habits we felt we needed to work on namely nibbling on wood furniture, and the occasional soiling accident in the house. The answer to both of these problems would lie in our consistency to address them, and ingenuity to out-smart Colby. We understood it would take time and patience to achieve a desirable outcome.
I will first address the problem of wood nibbling. It all seemed to begin when he was losing his baby teeth. As we did with Casey, when we had to leave him to go to work we would confined him to our kitchen area where his crate was using a baby gait. We did this so he would have access to his food and water during our absence throughout the day. We began to notice little chew marks on the kitchen cupboards. Needless to say this had to stop and soon! Behavioural articles suggested using bitter apple or Tabasco on the wood objects to make this taste of wood rather undesirable to the puppy. We tried this without success. The only choice we had was to provide some form of confinement where Colby could still have access to his food and water with plenty of space to stretch his legs. The solution was the use of an exhibition pen (X-pen), often used at dog shows.
This 4' X 4' wire structure with a top lid was perfect. We could put Colby's crate (door opened) within the X-pen structure with his food and water bowls, and still has plenty of space in which to walk and stretch his legs. We call this space Colby's apartment. This space meets all his basic needs for food and water, sleeping space, and yet provides us with some security knowing he is safe and not into mischief while we are at work. We are hopeful, that as time goes on Colby will learn not to chew on wood, and he will not require this type of confinement in the future. We will take one day at a time, and as he learns that wood should not be in his diet.
The second problem was the occasional soiling accident often encountered in house breaking a young puppy. Colby has not yet learned how too consistently communicate his need to go outside to do his business. Sometimes he gets it right, and sometimes he does not. How do you fix this problem?
We quickly realized that Colby responded so much better to rewards of successes, than he did to the negativities of "bad dog" responses from us after the accident. We chose to reward those successes simply because it worked. However, we also gave Colby every chance to obtain success by offering him regular opportunities to go outside. We began to notice his trends, after a nap, he needed a pee break, and usually 2 to 3 hours after eating a poop break. The more consistently he succeeded in his schedule to go do his business outside, and the fewer accidents he had indoors allowed Colby to understand the rights and the wrongs of house breaking. We are proud to report; Colby is well on his way to successful house breaking. Again, it all takes time and patience but all well worth it in the end. There will be less frustration for all involved.
The next thing we had to introduce Colby too was grooming.