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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday's Training TIP: CONTROLLING WHAT GOES IN

FLD Gus is four months old today.

I have to admit that his potty-training progress has frustrated me more than my last two Future Leader Dog puppies.  Oh--Gus never had a #2 accident in the house, and within the first two weeks he learned to signal when he felt the need, but as diligent as I have been in taking him out to "park," he still had #1 accidents long after I expected him to be able to control himself.

I took FLD Gus out whenever he woke up, got out of his crate, finished a play or training session, or drank a lot of water; I also limited his water intake late in the evening.  He did fine sleeping all night and he never messed in his crate.  Problems occurred during the day, but I couldn't figure out exactly why; he seemed to "leak" without even realizing it.

I wondered if he was drinking too much (he typically laps and laps until all the water is gone from his bowl), or if something else was going on.

When I took FLD Gus to Leader Dogs for the Blind for his last round of puppy shots on Friday, November 12, I asked Dr. Wilson what she thought.  She ruled out a physical problem since he was able to hold his bladder throughout the night.  Instead, she explained that his young muscles are still developing control; because he drinks so much his bladder fills and he probably realizes too late that he has to "park."

How much water should he drink in a day? I asked.

"A good rule of thumb is one ounce for every pound of weight," she answered, and went on to suggest that I measure out a day's worth of water in a pitcher and use the pitcher to fill his bowl.

FLD Gus weighted in at 26 pounds, so he only needed 26 ounces of water!  That's just over three glasses.  I'm sure I was filling his bowl with much more than that every day!  Dr. Wilson reminded me to be sure that Gus drinks water with his meals and when he's done playing or heated up from exercise. 

Eleven days later and I can't remember when FLD Gus had his last "accident." I've also noticed that he is more insistent in getting my attention when he has to go.  (He whines and stands by the door.)  YIPPEE!

These are the steps I've taken to help Gus gain control and eliminate accidents:
  • I still take Gus out to "park" every time he wakes up, gets out of his crate, ends a play session, or drinks from his bowl.
  • I pay closer attention to when and how much FLD Gus drinks during the day.  I fill his bowl (it holds more than eight ounces) in the morning, at least once or twice during the day, and at his evening meal.
  • When the water bowl is empty after dinner, I give Gus a small ice cube if he wants to drink.  This gives him something to play with and satisfies his thirst without taking in too much water.
  • If I can't be in the same room with him during the day, he spends time in his crate.  Of course, I take him to  "park" as soon as he comes out.
  • When I take FLD Gus to public places, he "parks" before getting into the van, when he gets out of the van, and sometimes once again before we enter the store or restaurant or other building, especially if we parked far away.  He "parks" again upon exiting, and again before going back into the house.

I probably expected too much from this little guy a little too early, but now that I'm controlling what goes IN, FLD Gus seems to be doing a better job controlling what comes OUT!

As I finished typing this post, I heard howling and desperate yipping from a crated-FLD Gus.  I took him outside and he "parked"--for a VERY long time.  Unfortunately, it is extremely windy today, and Gus's "sprinter" stance (right rear paw tucked under his belly, left rear paw stretched out behind) led to a very wet right rear paw.  I know--too much information!

FLD Gus thinks, "I'm JUST a puppy!"

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