Pupdate #8: The Gift in the Kitchen

Crate Training Dog We spent a lot of time in training yesterday and he's getting really great at some basics -- sit, stay, come. He'll do them almost instantly when I have a treat in my hand, and if I don't, he often needs coercing -- one of the reasons I am not a fan of training with food. However, since training with food can work really well, we spent quite a bit of time doing that yesterday.

When I brought him home from Toronto Animal Services, they gave me Hill's Science Diet food (excellent quality food) and a box of Iams treats (horrible quality food). I had run out of the Old Mother Hubbards peanut butter treats so I was using the Iams. Since the Iams food is low quality, not a lot of it is absorbed into his system. I was also training with his regular food (also a great option), the PetSmart brand Simply Nurish.

Since we spent a lot of time working on crate training yesterday, Winston had eating quite a bit more than usual. When I take him for his nightly walks -- we currently walk about three times a day: 11 a.m., 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. -- he often takes a poop. Last night he didn't poop. DANGER!

When I woke up this morning, Winston had left a gift for me in the kitchen. A big poop all over the floor. He has never pooped that much outside and I half-expected this might even happen. I resisted the urges to both vomit and take a photo for this post. The smell was so disgusting and overpowering, Winston vomited in his bed. It was either that or because of the overdose of those horrible Iams treats. Needless to say, his bed got put into the wash today and is air drying in the bathroom.

The crate training was really a struggle as I think the last parents he had would lock him in as punishment. In order to create a positive association with the crate and rehabilitate the negative association, everything I read said the best thing to do was coerce him into his crate with treats. I did a lot of that yesterday.

He has a really hard time staying in the crate with the door closed. If he's whimpering or whining, I can't let him out until he calms down. I have to wait until he is in a calm-submissive state before I open the crate door, and when I door, I cannot let him come charging out. He needs to be calm-submissive before I allow him to come out. That took a lot of work yesterday, but he's a really smart dog and a fast learner.

If I even closed the crate door yesterday, he would start whimpering and pawing at the door. As I'm typing this post, Winston has been in his crate for about 30 minutes; 15 minutes ago I closed the door. He hasn't complained once and he's currently chilling out -- pretty much what he does most of the time anyway.

I'm hoping I can get him to stay in his crate with the door closed for hours when I have to go out to teach or perform. Eventually I might have him sleep (not sure yet) in the crate with the door closed at night. He has been sleeping on his bed and sneaking onto the couch when I'm in bed. Since I can't correct that behaviour, not being awake and all, I have been working on only allowing him onto the couch when I say it's okay. The command for that is "up." The command for disallowing that, and for disallowing him jumping up onto people is "off." "Down" would confuse the situation with my desire to have him lay down.

This afternoon, we went to PetSmart, which was really great for him. On walks, he's always trying to run up to other dogs and will instinctively take a dominant-aggressive stance -- head up, ears up, tail up, chest forward, hair on his back standing on end. Going to PetSmart allowed him the opportunity to socialize with the other dogs in the store, and it seems that on Sunday afternoons there are a lot of other dogs in the store. I'm not comfortable taking him to a dog park just yet until he can be more relaxed around other dogs. This seems like a good, controlled way to do it. We also needed to get some new, not-shitty-Iams treats and a clicker.

One final note: on Thursday or Friday, I discovered a PetValu store on the Queensway. I had just come from PetSmart where I had bought a training chain for our walks. I had seen Cesar Millan's Ilusion Collar on the Cesar's Way website and thought it was brilliant. PetValu, however, is the only place around that carries them. (I guess many places disapprove of Cesar's methods -- some even claim his techniques were disproven, although he's made a pretty good case or proving them for the past seven years on NetGeo -- so they don't carry his products. WTF is that?!) I picked one up for Winston and THIS COLLAR HAS CHANGED MY LIFE!!! Every pet store on the planet should carry and recommend this collar. If you have a dog, you have to get this collar.

On our walks today, I've been getting him to sit every time I stop walking. That was something I saw a dog do on The Dog Whisperer and I thought it would be great if Winston would sit and relax every time we stopped walking, so I started training on that.

It's now been 35 minutes that Winston has been in his crate. This is great. Too bad I'm going to have to get him up in a few minutes to go for our 11 p.m. walk. I sure hope he takes a poop.