It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Cause and effect

House-training continues.

For Romeo, that is. Right now no human child is potty training in my house. Tyler is done, and no one else is ready to start. A small breather.

We had hit a bit of a wall in the puppy version. See, while Romeo certainly seems to have grasped that we DO want him to pee outside, he did not at all understand that we did NOT want him peeing inside. We’d been keeping the house relatively puddle-free by dint of hourly pee-breaks, but Romeo? Was not with the program. It is safe to say that he was totally oblivious that a program existed.

What to do? Consult my all-knowing internet dog guru, of course! “Introduce treats to the training!” she said. If the consequence of a pee in the house is a startling “NO” and being whisked outside, while the consequence of peeing outside is delirious joy and a TREAT… well, it won’t take him too long to make the distinction.

Makes sense to me!

Romeo likes this new twist. Very much. Now, having peed outside, he will sit and look up at you expectantly. “See? I’m a GOOD BOY! Aren’t I a GOOD BOY??? Treat, treat, treat, treat!!!” all the while his wee tail going a mile a minute.

We’ve seen progress, too. Indoor accidents have dropped by 50%. YAY!!

Which is why I was a little flabbergasted the other day, as I stood in the kitchen, chopping stuff, to look down and see Romeo, PEEING AT MY FEET!


And then, when he was done, he sat down, his wee tail going a mile a minute. As if he’d done something GOOD. As if he expected to be praised. As if he were about to get a…


The chopping board holds a small pile of dog treats. Dog treats which I was chopping into teeny, Romeo-bite-sized morsels, suitable for use as Motivating Rewards.

Rewards for what?

Well, peeing.


January 26, 2011 Posted by | my kids, potty tales | , , , , | 5 Comments

Training = Results

Indie is walking on a nice, loose leash about 70 – 80% of the time now, and has completely ceased with the Squirrel Dance.

Anna is now allowed to Let Go of the Stroller at certain points in our walks.

Indie will sit when adults walk through the door, or up and down the front steps, and wait to be invited before she proceeds. She’s not 100% yet, but she’s making steady progress.

Timmy, Anna, and Emily can spend a convivial 30 minutes in a coffee shop, staying in their chairs, chattering happily, and nary a flicker of tantrum or whining from any of them.

Indie comes when she’s called a little over half the time. We’re still working on this one.

Noah comes when he’s called about… oh… 5% of the time. We’re definitely still working on this one. I’m sure the leash is the reason the dog is doing better, but I guess I can’t… no, huh? Definitely not? Okay.

Want to have a kid? Train a puppy first. If you could live with one for six months to a year to try out this whole “nurturing” schtick, that would be helpful — but that’s NOT ETHICAL AND CRUEL TO PUPPIES, so I DON’T REALLY MEAN IT. But if you could? If, at the end of that time you have adjusted to the limits on your freedom, and if the puppy will sit when it’s told, stay there, come when it’s called and walk on a nice loose leash (not tugging your arm out of its socket), you’re ready for the greater challenge of a child. (Greater challenge. Puppies are not babies. Babies are way harder.)

But those puppy-training skills? They are transferrable!

Clear expectations.
Reinforcement — positive, negative, intermittent.

Puppies, toddlers, teens… Makes no difference. All the same skill set.

And for all? High expectations — reasonable, but high — consistency of response, and practice, practice, practice.

That’s why none of my toddlers bark, and the dog rarely whines.

October 22, 2008 Posted by | behavioural stuff, Developmental stuff, manners, outings, socializing, the dog | , , , , | 5 Comments

Babies of various sorts


We’ve been talking a lot about poop in the MaryP house these days. Frequency, consistency, appearance.

We’ve been discussing sleep patterns, and brainstorming solutions to potentially problematic social developments. We’ve been ensuring adequate exercise and play time. We’ve been working out some discipline issues. We’ve been reading books on psychology and behavioural conditioning.

All this while I’m having my two weeks off. There is not a toddler in sight.

We have a puppy, and I tell you, it’s just like having a baby.


It is NOT.

I have had a baby. Three of ’em, in fact. There are a lot of parallels, and parents can learn a LOT about toddler-wrangling from the principles of puppy-training…

but it is NOT the same.

Any non-kid-owning dog-owners reading this? It does not matter how much your puppy whined in the night at first. It does not matter how delicate his digestion, nor how socially needy she is…

Human babies leave puppies MILES in the shade.

You have a puppy and you need to go out for a couple of hours? You put her in her crate with a chewy bone, and you leave.

Try doing that with a baby.

The puppy is whining in the night? You put her in her crate with a hot water bottle and a ticking clock, and you close the door.

Try doing that with a baby.

The puppy needs to play, but you don’t feel like going to the dog park? Toss the puppy in the back yard with a tennis ball.

Try doing that…

you get my point.

Still! If you are a dog-lover who has never had children? And if (this is important!) your dog is well-trained and well-behaved, you are getting some valuable pre-parent training.

We are NOT talking neurotic little mama’s-baby pooches, the type who need to be carried in bad weather, the fat little waddlers who won’t run in the park, the whiners and the nippers and the tearers-up of library books. But if your dog is cheerful, healthy, active and essentially well-behaved…

It’ll help. More than you might realize.

But please, don’t be calling the dog “my baby” in front of the parents of a human baby. Who might smile weakly to your face, but will mock you eternally behind your back. Who will be fighting the urge to beat you senseless with a sippy cup, and, on particularly bad days, switch the baby for the pup.

And me? I’m just love, love, loving our new puppy. Who I would never trade for a baby, thanks.

August 29, 2008 Posted by | my kids, parents | , , , | 13 Comments