Parental GuidancePublished February 13, 2008
The first time I met with 12-week old Wink and his people we were smack-dab in the middle of a downpour. It was the kind of day best suited for lounging on the couch under a blanket and napping, not suiting up and doing potty runs every forty-five minutes. When the weather outside is frightful, it’s hard to resist the temptation to send a puppy out the back door to do his business unchaperoned. After all, he knows what he needs to do out there, right? Not quite. All it takes is one squirrel, one blowing leaf, one intriguing scent molecule and Mr. Pup will forget the job at hand and engage in more pressing activities. (“There was a squirrel. In my yard. You have to understand the gravity of this situation.”) You then call sweet puppy back to the house assuming that he eliminated. Right as he walks in the door he realizes “Oh, wait. There’s that full feeling. I need to let loose.” Then he goes and does just that behind the couch. It’s important to accompany young pups on each and every potty trip outside for a few reasons. Number one, you can keep him on track when the world gets too distracting by chanting his potty phrase. (What? You don’t know what I mean by a “potty phrase”? Stay tuned.) Number two (ha), you can reward him with a high-value treat the moment he finishes going. This teaches him that pottying in the proper location earns him a paycheck. Finally, you can be 100% certain that he’s actually empty, and then reset the clock for the next potty trip. During our one-hour lesson, Wink’s people took him out for two successful potty trips in the drenching rain. I invoked dog trainer privilege and stayed inside.
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