Rescue Tails -- You Don't Know What You Don't Know



I’m not sure how much Murphy knew in his old life, but there were some things that if he knew them, he forgot them when he came to live with me.

He was afraid of steps.  We conquered that with the help of Victoria Stillwell and “It’s Me or the Dog” on Animal Planet.”  In a nutshell, I learned to go a step at a time with a treat on each step. He was tempted to come get the treat and kept getting braver and braver.  The only catch is that he still expects a treat when he comes down the steps in the morning. 

He was afraid of other dogs.  One morning a neighbor with a “seasoned” dog asked if she could approach.  Murphy “met” her dog who was totally unthreatening and from then on, he wanted to meet every dog within 50 yards. 

Murphy and his first toy.

Murphy and his first toy.

He didn’t know how to play.  But he learned quickly.  Toys are awesome.

Sudden noises made him jump. I didn’t come up with a “hack” for that. Just time and patience.

He did not appear to be housetrained.  He didn’t #2 in the house, but #1 happened all the time.  He didn’t have a signal to let me know that he needed to go out. He didn’t bark. He didn’t go to the door.  He’d just sneak off and find a quiet place to pee. I found spots all over the place, the hall, the dining room, the spare bedroom.  We had to figure out a signal.  And then I found Poochy Bells, an idea I wish I had first!  Poochy Bells are bells on a ribbon with a ring to hang them at your dog’s height. You hang them near the door and every time you take your dog out for “business,” you ring the bell and say the word that is your word for “business” – ours is “potty.” Supposedly, the dog associates ringing the bell with going potty. And it worked! Within a week, Murphy was going to the door and ringing the bell when he wanted to go out.  BRILLIANT!  Now to be truthful, he also rang the bell when he wanted to go sit on the porch! But it worked.

I continued to have problems in the morning when I was taking a shower and getting ready. He would already have been outside, but he would go into the spare bedroom and pee.  I finally figured out that he was having separation anxiety knowing that a shower meant I was going to leave.  So, I eventually started closing the door to the bathroom with both of us inside.  I even put his Kong in there so that he would be rewarded (I know it is the bathroom, but…).  It took a little while, but that helped get him used to the morning routine.

Now, quite honestly, I think he loves it when he knows I am going to leave.  He knows he can take a good nap.  Then his walker will come and he gets a walk and a snack.  Then he gets another nap and The Mama comes home.

Life is good. We had some other training issues, but we needed professional expertise for those.

Lessons learned:

Google is your friend. There are so many good resources on line. Beware of #fakenews, but most resources are helpful.

Animal Planet – I binge watched “It’s Me or the Dog”. I picked up some good pointers like the fear of stairs hack, but it also made me feel so much better about our minor problems when I saw some of the issues that these other dog parents faced.