I heard it again today. I was walking my enthusiastic doggy. A stranger stopped, looked, then commented “What a happy dog!”
I feel blessed that I rescued this bit of fluff because I was selfish. I needed a walking partner, I needed love, I needed to feel secure while I slept in strange places in my new but old motorhome.
Enter Harley, a poohuahua , (Half toy poodle,half chihuahua) who barely weighed 4 pounds, was malnourished, had super thin dull lifeless fur. He had never worn a collar or harness, never been on a leash, never had a doggy toyto play with and knew no commands. He was not fully house-broken, a real nightmare for me, living in a tiny motorhome.
I know folks recommended crate training for potty training the dog, but my small caravan, just wouldn’t allow room for a crate. Besides I am not that fond of crate training. I think it breaks a dog’s spirit, if they spend too much of their life in a crate, rather than romping around being a dog. But it is an alternative method.
I initially settled on another training method. Spend three days walking the dog every hour from sun-up to bedtime. Each time he piddled or pooped, outdoors, I praised him lavishly. I did not end the walk when he did something, but I continued onwards. I wanted him to feel relaxed about his potty habits and not feel like his walks would be terminated if he relieved himself.
Dogs want to make you happy and they of course want to be happy campers too. So puppy began to understand how delighted I was when he did his private business outdoors. He has rarely had an accident since. I ignored the few accidents, he did have, just cleaning them up, with absolutely no punishment. I wanted to train the doggy with positive reinforcement, not negative.
On day three of this energetic walking program, my happy pooch, became seemingly embarrassed about all this praise I lavished upon him over each poop or pee. So BINGO, he was potty trained or house broken by day three. I could cut back on the number of walks to a more reasonable schedule.
However, while visiting friends, with a house, he began to totally misunderstand the difference between a house and the great outdoors. It was a huge embarrassment. He wasn’t peeing, but leaving a little Tootsie Roll sized turd behind on their floor. I began walking him hourly again. A few months later at another friend’s house, he had accidents. In the interim, I had bout a collapsible dog crate, made of nylon, that zipped up fully and had screened windows. Since, I cooked at my friend’s house each night, doggy went over with me.
My friend allowed me to put the portable dog crate, in their house. Whenever we visited (I was parked in their driveway, living in my motorhome) I would either keep the puppy on a leash, or put him in the dog kennel. We outfitted the puppy tent with a blanket and toys. If we were playing with the puppy, we would let him roam free while we played with him, but once we couldn’t keep an eye on him every minute, in the dog tent he went. This way I could cook, without worrying he was sneaking off to leave tiny poop somewhere. I also started back walking him almost hourly, heaping on the praise and so on, when he did the correct thing.
He hated the dog crate, but learned to play in there quietly or scrunch up his blanket and nap. Since it was lightweight, I often dragged it to where he could watch me cook or watch us eat, so he wouldn’t feel like we had thrown him away, to be ignored. Puppies love and need lots of good positive attention. Of course he would never dream of pooping in the dog tent. After leaving my friend’s house, I collapsed the tent back to the storage box in the basement of the RV.
Somewhere along the way, he also figured out if he whined by the door, I would jump up to walk him. Mostly I walk him so much, he doesn’t have to remind me he has to go, but sometimes I get wrapped up in working and forget the little fellow needs his walks. When he whines at the door, I reward him by jumping up to take him for a walk.
Once he does his business, I continue the walk, as a reward for him doing the right thing. Some pet owners report that if they immediately go home after the dog does his business, he begins to avoid doing his potty, just to keep the walk going along. So remember, reward your puppy with a longer walk after he pees or poops, don’t just dash him back inside, unless the weather is truly horrible. I bought my puppy a rain coat for inclement weather.
He loves his walks, I am getting stronger, and my waist is getting smaller, so having this puppy dog is a huge benefit all around. Now that puppy and I both agree about his potty habits, we are immensely happy. Small wonder people often stop to say, “What a happy doggy he is!”
Don’t forget to carry a few doggy poop baggies with you, on your walks. In these days and times, it’s customary to clean up after your pet.