Just under two weeks ago, I brought home a tiny dog. Well, huge for its age, but you understand my meaning. I had made a decision to follow a set of exercises/ rules laid out in this PDF. Having been used to puppies doing a lot of indoors toiletising at first, I was dubious at first about its claims of “errorless house training”, but the reasoning in the book seemed really good to me and I decided to go for it.
As you know, I awoke the first morning to a… not so pleasant surprise. I was down. I was seriously frustrated. I had made all these preparations and had failed. So now what?
Over the past weeks since I got Balrog, I’ve made a lot of changes and adjustments and I’ve learned a lot about myself and about keeping a puppy on your own. I’ll go through individual elements in separate posts. Now, for the nights.
The second night, I decided to sleep next to Balrog’s enclosure so I could hear when he needed to go and pay attention to his nightly rhythms, etc. I put some cushions on the floor and wrapped myself in a blanket and tried to sleep.
There wasn’t much sleep to be had that night, though. The interesting thing that happened early on was that Vera, our ginger cat, came to visit! While Balrog slept, Vera first watched him from higher up, then jumped into his den and even drank his water!
Our largest worry adding a dog to the house was how Vera and Cthulhu would react. Seems that – at least in Vera’s case – that worry was unfounded. More on that later, though.
During the night, he got up a few times and did his business on the paper/ grass laid out. It really wasn’t ideal, however, as he’s pretty big for the smallish den I was able to make and didn’t quite keep himself off his own leavings, urine though they might be. Another element was the cleanup the next morning, which was nowhere near as bad as the first time, but still a nuisance when you have a well rested dog bounding around the living room. At the end of that day, I decided to try putting him in his cage with a locked door.
I’ve been hesitant about this, because the idea that puppies can hold it in all night just because they’re naturally disinclined to go to the toilet in their sleeping area was at odds with the idea that you have to take them out every half hour to an hour during the day. However, my dad and several others said that this is the done thing and it’s fine, so I gave it a go.
I slept with the sofa pulled right up close to the cage so he’d feel safe. He didn’t really notice me putting him into it as he was so sleepy when I picked him up. So that’s good! How’d that third night go? Purdy darn swell! He’s wake me up every now and then with a sort of “I’m alone and uncomfortable and need to move a bit and I’m not sure I’m okay with this locked cage-thing you’ve put me in” whine (I know. I speak Dog well) but didn’t get truly desperate for a wee until early next morning, at which point I made him go outside then popped him back in the cage for another hour or two of sleep (for myself).
So I kept doing that. I slept on the sofa until this past sunday morning, moving it to its normal position on the wednesday. Mostly, these nights have been uneventful, apart from waking me up with a more intense whine when he really needed to go to the toilet around 6-7 am.
One of the nights, Vera was being a total asshole, though. Just as Balrog had started to settle after whining about being put to bed for a half hour, she jumped into the living room, meowing and being loud as she went to noisily drink his water. Of course he woke up and started his yammering all over again! It took a good half hour before he calmed down, after I’d moved the water out of sight of the cage. I was not a happy sofa-camper.
Camping isn’t a bad analogy, actually. I certainly didn’t see myself naked for a good four days after I got Balrog into the house, and four days after that too! If you know me, you know my preferred state is naked as a mole rat (I’m not quite that wrinkly, but nobody’s perfect. Give me thirty more years). However, when you’re sleeping on the sofa and might have to jump up to get the dog into the garden ASAP (As Soon As Possible) for ASAP (A Shit And Pee) and your duvet is too big to bring with you on the sofa AND it’s the middle of winter, you might as well just keep your clothes on and use the thickest blankets and throws you have. I didn’t bother with showering as I’m fortunate enough not to need showers every day in order to not smell. Also, who the hell am I supposed to smell nice for? That little Fecal Fountain, Balrog?! So yeah. It felt a bit like camping out for a week. I didn’t even enter my bedroom aside from getting fresh undies and socks a few times. Suffice it to say, the showers I did have felt wonderful.
Since the start of this week, I’ve been sleeping in my bed, which is situated right at the other end of the house, up one floor. The first night of that experiment, I was going to get up at four-fiveish to take him out, but he wasn’t making any noise, so I opted not to. As I came down in the morning, I found him wet on one side, however. He’d peed in his bed. This was an order of magnitude better than the very first night he was here, so I really didn’t mind all that much. I made a mental note to definitely get up in the middle of the night.
Well, that’s not always so easy, I missed out on the nighttime toiletising once more, but when I can get up around five, I get to sleep until about 9 in the morning after that with no accidents, so it’s all good!
Not all pups need to be taken out during the night. My mum and dad’s cocker spaniel Ronja never needed to. She’d happily go for seven or eight hours from the start, according to them. Balrog will need a bit more time. I’m going to try removing his water a couple of hours before bedtime tonight, though, to see if that helps. Either way, I’ll continue getting up at five for a few days, then try moving it a half hour, and incrementally get it up to a full night’s rest as his bladder and control grows.
So night time is not a bad time, and neither are mornings any more.
I will say this, though: Forget about sleeping in. It ain’t gonna happen. Sleeping in with a puppy is getting up at nine instead of seven. Every. Day. They have no idea what a weekend is, nor what a hangover is. Thank shit I decided on teetotalling for a year before I got Balrog (I’ll tell you about that later).
So that’s it about nights for now!