Tag Archives: Simone

Creature Feature: Secret to pottytraining small dogs is owner commitment

22 Sep

Creature Feature appears each Wednesday in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

 Is it true that small dogs are harder to housetrain than large dogs are?

"Of course we can be trained!" (Simone/RO)

Housetraining a small or toy breed of dog is more challenging than training larger dogs — it’s not the impossible task many people believe it to be although the process is longer and requires more time and attention from the owner.

“They are more difficult to housetrain. With little dogs, you have to take more responsibility about them going to the bathroom outside,” says Lisa Mantle, a certified professional dog trainer in Little Rock. “Instead of just assuming that the dog is going to let you know when he needs to go outside, you have to be an equal partner in the process.”

Small dogs have a poor housetraining reputation primarily because owners don’t stick with the training program for the long haul, she says. Because it takes longer to train a small dog, “people get tired of it. They don’t want to keep going outside with their dog.”

Mantle, owner of Running Dog Academy, has five dogs in her home. “I have big dogs and little dogs. I don’t treat them remotely the same. If my big dogs don’t ask to go outside, I don’t worry about it. On the other hand, if my little dogs haven’t asked to to outside for a while, I put them out.”

Theories about why small dogs are more difficult to train range from their smaller bladder size to breeding to owner expectations, Darlene Arden says in Small Dogs, Big Hearts.

“There are a lot of variables, including the fact that some breeds do take a little longer,” Arden says. “It’s not a measure of intelligence, but more likely an indication of behavioral tendencies.”

Training small dogs to potty outdoors requires vigilence, consistency and commitment, Mantle says. “It’s do-able but you have to stick with it. You can’t cut corners. You have to go through all the steps.”

With small dogs, training requires some type of containment when the owner can’t be with the dog. Some people use a dog crate while others put up a baby gate to confine the dog to a specific room or area of the house.

Another tactic is tethering, which requires an owner to keep the dog with him on a leash at all times. This keeps the dog from wandering off into another area of the house to potty out of his owner’s sight, plus helps the owner learn to read when his dog needs to go outside.

The downside of tethering, Mantle says, is that most people don’t want their dog attached to them continually. “It’s just not very realistic” unless the owner is committed to it.

I agree, although I had excellent results by combining crate training with tethering when Simone was a puppy. At home, I put the leash on her and she shadowed every step I took in the house and outdoors for months. When I took a shower, I hung the leash handle on the door knob and she would settle down on the floor. In the kitchen, she laid on a mat while I washed the dishes. At night, Simone stayed in her crate except for when I got up to take her outside at about 3 a.m. (during the early weeks of training).

Simone wasn’t bothered by being on the leash. It got tiresome for me at times, but the positive results were worth the effort. Not only is Simone well-trained, but she and I are bonded for life.

A key thing to remember about tethering: The dog is attached to you and within a few feet of you at all times. You never tie the dog to piece of furniture or anything else and leave her alone.

Mantle offers this advice for training a small (or any size) dog:

** Don’t let the dog out of your sight.

** Go outside with the dog and praise him every time he uses the bathroom in the right place. Mantle says to continue doing this even after the dog consistently goes outside to potty.  “I do this all the time and  my dogs are 13, 14 years old.”

Why is it important to go outside with your dog? First, so he’ll know why he’s out there. Second, so you’ll be there to praise and reward him for pottying in the appropriate place.

**If the dog makes a mistake indoors, “just clean it up,” she says. “If you see the dog in the process of going to the bathroom, try to calmly interrupt without scaring the dog. Then take the dog outside and reward the dog for going outside.”

** The most important thing to remember is “to stick with it until housetraining is complete. Don’t look at it like the dog is now such-and-such age and should be housetrained by now. Dogs complete housetraining at different ages.”

When the dog is consistently asking to be taken outside for bathroom breaks, he’s trained. But, Mantle says, if the dog is still having accidents indoors, training is incomplete.

“Some people expect dogs to just know things like they should go outside,” she says. “But remember, dogs don’t care where they go to the bathroom. We care where they go.”    

If you have questions about training, email me at askcreature@att.net.        


Today’s resolution, by Simone: Get down to it

15 Sep

“When presented with two ways to approach one’s food, select the one that gets you closest to it.” — Simone’s razor (apologies to Ockham)

Nothing wrong with a little food in your fur.

Today’s resolution: Thanks for all the birthdays

12 Sep

“Do not allow persons to bother the baby, particularly if she is sleeping. Too much handling is bad regardless of who does it.” — hospital baby-care instructions to Mom

As my mother says, “We made another one” — birthday, that is.

Every year, I thank my mom for keeping me — as you can see, I was not the prettiest baby. I’m grateful I was her first child and she had nothing to compare me with. My two younger sisters were really cute babies. But Mom says she thought I was cute, too.

This photo was tucked into the baby book that Mom wrote in a few times during my first three  years; after that, my sisters had arrived and she had three toddlers on her hands and no time for baby books. But the things she recorded seem to reveal how I developed certain interests.

Gifts at the one-year party were clothes (red ruffled pants!) and a mechanical donkey. A gym set was among my second-year gifts. The third year really nailed it: telephone, bead stringing kit, dog, plastic gun and books. Those who know me will instantly recognize how those gifts relate to me today. Hints: iphone, jewelry making, Simone, .410, books, books, books, gym membership and clothes. I’m not sure how the mechanical donkey figures in. … Oh, wait.

Thanks, Mom, for thinking I was cute and for raising me right. Thanks, too, for making all my days special.

By the way, folks, I grew into that nose.

Today’s resolution, by Simone: Let go of the need to understand

2 Sep

‘Sometimes you just gotta go with it. It doesn’t matter if you sit, stay or down, there’s bound to be a treat or some happy talk involved. All good.” — Simone

Pondering the big issues... or not


Today’s resolution, by Simone: Bide my time

24 Aug

“All beings have need of nourishment from above.” — I Ching, 5

Simone says: “Works for me. Especially in the kitchen.”

A grateful heart

Today’s resolution, by Simone: Make every moment one of exploration

18 Aug

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

You find amazing things when you look under the bushes. (2011/RO)

Today’s resolution, by Simone: Mean what you ‘say’

22 Jul

Sometimes a look is enough and, in this case, my look says, “Enough!” Mom sometimes gets snap-happy with the camera. She’s always taking pictures of me. *sigh* Not that I blame her — I really am the soul of cuteness, very photogenic and usually ready with a pose. But still … Really? Another one? I am trying to sleep. Enough! I mean it. — Simone, PIC (Pomeranian in charge)

Read my face. Can't you see what I'm telling you? (2010/RO)

Today’s resolution, from Simone: Always take time to play

2 Jul

Simone plays tug-of-ball with bff Ashley. (2001/RO)

Today’s resolution, by Simone: Keep your friends close, but your toys closer

25 Jun

Let's play! (2011/RO)

Today’s resolution, by Simone: Respect the power of the ‘head tilt’

13 Jun

“As a persuasive maneuver, the classic ‘head tilt’ never fails. Do it with the right degree of cuteness and the world is yours — treats, toys, belly-rubs… even people food. But use it judiciously. Too much head-tilt lessens its awwww-someness.” — Simone

Tilt your head just so for maximum impact. (Photo of Simone/RO)