Thursday, April 6, 2006

Potty Training



I can't think why this should be such a challenge. I mean, a ten-week-old Bichon Frisé has a brain the size of a Big Blow Pop. How tough can it be to simply make the connection inside this little brain that elimination inside = bad, elimination outside = good? How many synapses could be involved? But for whatever reason it seems kinda like yelling at the wind. One time we plunk them down in their potty area and results are almost instantaneous and praise & treats are given. The next time we sit there for 20 minutes without a damn flicker of activity and then promptly come in and pee and poo all over the kitchen floor the moment I turn my back.

I think trying to work my training magic (that is, it'll be magic if they get trained) on two pups complicates things, at least to my brain, which is, apparently, not bigger than two Big Blow Pops. They get up first thing in the morning and we take them out to their little poo-pen together. Duties are done. Rewards are given. But they've come (just as we'd hoped) to associate "good girl!" with a treat, and then they both expect a treat when the phrase is sung in praise of the first one done peeing. So how does one not interrupt the second one's peeing (for a treat she's not yet earned) without failing to reward the good doings of the first one? Take them out separately? That's been the way the rest of the day (which has the effect of introducing a certain, fractal double training failure), but in the excitement of the new morning it just seems like that need to pee must be great. Treats, treats and more treats? I've lived my whole life this way, and I'm practically being ferried around in a wheelbarrow for it. Two poo pens, maybe?



Whatever method we arrive upon, this little pathway to failure seems an exhausting, full-time job. I've been too busy to blog (at which complaint my wife reminds me that I still managed to post one of the most numbingly boring hundred-page airplane posts in my 9 months of blogging a couple days ago. "Ah yes, but I had to go to work to do it!" I remind her.) We've done a hundred million loads of laundry in the past week, and I've been down on my knees like a charwoman twice scrubbing the entirety of the kitchen / dining room floor.



But I get lots of kisses for it.

9 comments:

Esbee said...

Call Petsmart. They offer free housebreaking classes. You don't even have to take the dogs with you.

I could give you lots of advice, but they will give you even more of it.

PS: Do the dogs have names yet?

wunelle said...

I'm aware that there are probably several ways to achieve the ends we desire, but I'm just not convinced that I'm reinforcing the right things. So often it seems like waiting passively for something to happen, and then hoping the reward acts as a reinforcement. Ah well, we'll figure it out.

Yes, pupppies are now named (he says, ducking).

(drum roll)------------

Bella and Snickers

Esbee said...

Sincerely, go take the Petsmart class. It really is quite good, and it's like 2 hours only of your life. Which is like worth 4 piddle cleanups. The class expolains the whole thing beautifully, including the Tootsie Pop size brain aspect.

Esbee said...

I like Bella. Why do I think Snickers is your dog?

wunelle said...

I was going to name her "Hilltop Bakery Triple Chocolate Doughnut," but that just seemed a wee bit too cumbersome (though "Do-nut" might be OK!).

We'll have to look into a local Petsmart class.

Dzesika said...

I am *so* living vicariously through these puppies of yours!

Though I couldn't even get my cat to really potty train successfully, so I'm afraid I don't have any answers as far as that's concerned ...

Esbee said...

If you pronounced it a la Francais, it would sound like Sneakers, and then you could tell everyone she's named for the classic Converse "Chuck" Hi-Top.

Sue Ellen Mischke said...

I'm not a big fan of dogs, but I will say that those are easily two of the cutest animals I've ever seen. How do they impact people with mild dog allergies?

wunelle said...

Bichons are non-shedding and hypo-allergenic. So from this perspective (as well as sheer overpowering cuteness!) they lead the pack.