August 10, 2006

Doggy potty training

Ferris has his own bathroom. It's more like a 10' x 15' gravel-lined potty behind our garage. We paid several hundred dollars for a junk removal company to haul away all the garbage that we found there when we moved in, and now it's full of crap again.

It took a great deal of patience and persistence to train Ferris to use his bathroom. Hurriedly getting dressed and racing to the back of the yard in the middle of the night with my whining puppy in my arms, being vigilant about ushering him to his bathroom if I caught him sniffing the lawn, ensuring that he did his business in the right place before we took him anywhere... all measures that I knew would pay off someday. Still waiting for that day. It seemed to work for a while, but now, at 16 months of age, Ferris has regressed.

When I first began finding surprises and dead patches of grass in the yard, I thought that Ferris was suggesting that I should clean his bathroom more often. But now that I've witnessed the look of blissful defiance on his face when he relieves himself on the lawn, I realize it's more than that. Experts say that a large-breed dog is an adolescent at this age. Ferris, however, is going through the canine equivalent of the terrible twos. And I'm not handling it very well.

Before his walk every evening, I bring Ferris to his bathroom and command, "Go poop." He sniffs around to find the perfect spot, then, standing tall and proud, he pees on the back of his front feet. (He never figured out the leg-lift.) Pleased with himself, he saunters toward the lawn. I block his way and repeat my command. "Go poop!" He stares at me, tongue hanging out the side of his mouth, and pants. "Do you want to go for a walk?" (Tail wag.) "Then... go POOP." Ferris seems to comprehend, as he begins walking in circles and sniffing the gravel. "Good boy, go poop!" I encourage. Ferris stops circling and makes a dash for the lawn. "No, Ferris. GO POOP!" Sometimes this goes on for ten minutes. This evening, the battle lasted for a half hour and, for the first time, I lost. I finally gave up, said, "No walk" and went inside, wondering how I would handle being a parent if I can't even avoid getting into power struggles with my dog.


Anonymous said...

Don't worry, it gets easier. The first two years are tough, but all your hard work will pay off and you will have a wonderful dog in the years ahead!

Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

My mother likes to tell the story of her childhood spaniel who was paper trained as a puppy and forever after would be outside playing and would scratch to get into the house, to run down to the basement to do her business on the paper. All very ladylike.

Anonymous said...

Give him some Smarties. It worked with Jerry.

Calamity Jen said...

Thank you all for your comments. They reminded me that friendship and laughter is what gets us through life's trials and tribulations.