Saturday, May 21, 2016

The training of Cyrus

In case you don't make it through the whole story below, let me explain that the crate training is supposed to be for Cyrus. First, the Monkey Cat was in there investigating. Then, Woody decided he would take a nap in there. Cyrus was in there for all of about 2 minutes. It's a gradual learning process...for both of us...

In an effort to control the use of the house as his bathroom, I took Cyrus to a trainer on Thursday. I have always believed that I could do without a trainer. I have read way too many training books, and gleaned all I need to know from them, or thought I did. I learned the most from the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Positive Dog Training by my former Rowan classmate, Pam Dennison. But all of the books that I have are focused on training a dog, not untraining a dog. None of them had a solution for adult dog messing in the house that did not involve the use of a crate.

So I knew going into this that the trainer, Teresa, was going to suggest a crate. A conversation with Pam on the phone also had that as the solution. But I have been avoiding bringing the crate back in the house for lots of reasons. It takes up too much room. There's no good place for it that isn't by a window. After the first few weeks of messes, Cyrus behaved himself for the next 3 months. The crate was full of young chickens out by the coop. Then Cyrus made several messes again, I retrieved the crate, cleaned off all the chicken mess only to have him behave again for 3 or 4 more weeks. I thought the ducks right outside the window were causing him to get excited and that was causing the problem. We got rid of the ducks and he was good again for several more weeks. More messes...

Anyway, I have been fighting this losing battle for too long. I did not have much hope that I would learn anything useful besides being convinced to use the crate, but Teresa had some good advice that I am going to record here for my benefit. I expect I will forget too much if I don't write it down.

So here's what I learned.

Don't make a fuss when leaving or coming back in the house. This is probably my #1 mistake. I always tell pooches I am "going to work" and give them cookies when I am leaving. I make just as big a fuss when coming in (minus the cookies). If Cyrus left any messes, I scold him for the mess and make both dogs go outside, presumably to make a mess out there. If there is no mess I praise him and tell him what a good boy he was.

Teresa says do nothing/say nothing on leaving or re-entering. Just act as if they are not even there. This solves one of the mysteries: why is The Husband allowed in and out without any complaints from the pooches? Because he does it exactly right and makes no fuss at all (on any of the 100 times a day he goes in and out the door).

Give Cyrus more boundaries. Sounds like what you would say to the parents of a 3YO child. Makes perfect sense. Perhaps I took the positive training a bit to the extreme. Always praising him when he was being good, but not really defining what the "being good" part was.

Teresa says even if he always behaves when I am with him in the house, give him a certain spot where he should go lie down when told. Leave the crate door open and have him go in there sometimes for no good reason other than I said so. Take him for "power walks" instead of allowing him to sniff and pee on everything out there. Pee when we go out the door, then no sniffing, no peeing for the rest of the walk.

Give Cyrus more exercise—mental and physical. This is the most time-consuming and definitely the most obvious solution. I knew this. I will just have to try harder. Apparently once-a-week runs up at Don's house are not enough.

Are ya ready for more pooch visits, Don? Put some more beer in the fridge.

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