Friday, October 12, 2007


Mason is into his "teenage" testing time. He's getting into everything. It used to be mostly shoes and trash baskets.
Here’s what we tried when the shoe fetish continued despite correction and redirection to a chew toy. We made him lie quietly while surrounded by shoes. He was corrected whenever he fixated on a shoe. That worked for awhile. He still steals shoes, but it’s less frequent and less destructive when he does.
Since he has branched out from shoes to almost anything we learned a trick to get him to leave something alone. When he was little and wanted to put his paws up on the table that had his treats we put set mousetraps on the table back far enough that he couldn’t get hurt. Then we carefully put newspapers on top of the set mousetraps. When he put his paws up on the table/newspaper one or more mousetraps would be sprung. The sudden noise of the trap and newspaper quickly stopped that behavior. So, now we use unset mousetraps to keep him away from things he shouldn’t get into and we can’t or choose not to put up. Usually that works, but we’ve had to get several mousetraps. We quickly explain the mousetraps to visitors lest they think we have a major rodent problem.

We learned the followed from our pastor when he used it as an illustration in his sermon. I’m sure we got other things out of that sermon, but this one was the most immediately helpful. Mason always wanted to pull the dishtowel down from the oven door. For awhile we kept the towel on the counter but we thought he was old enough to learn to leave it alone – with a little help from Coca Cola. We put an empty soda can filled with pennies on top of the dishtowel and oven handle. The noise from the can falling to the floor is an immediate deterrent. As you can see from the picture the can has gotten dented from a couple of tries but it is now working well to prevent towel theft.

Most of this is just mischievous puppyhood and will subside. But he is sometimes openly defiant. That definitely needs to be curbed. He's trying to work his way up to Alpha dog position. We keep showing him that position has already been filled and we're not resigning from it any time soon. When he grabs something, runs away with it and won’t drop it when commanded to do so we get out the water squirt bottle. He does not like to be squirted with water and just the sight of us picking up the bottle dislodges anything from his mouth. Another win for Alpha dog!

Last Sunday Mason grabbed the front page of the newspaper and started to chew it. I got him to lie down so I could take the paper away from him. When I read the headline I started laughing.
I sent the following e-mail to Michelle, the Puppy Raising Program Manager. “Mason pulled this newspaper off the coffee table and I caught him. I made him stay until I got the camera and got a photo. Think we should send him to prison or let him dodge prison?”
She replied, “He’s such a naughty little boy, but I think he can dodge prison, but I will assign him community service hours, he must volunteer with his local guide dog school to make amends.”
So that’s where we are – testing, being tested and making amends. Some days we feel so mean. We really do try to prevent him from getting into trouble. He has several play toys that we rotate so they seem like new, interesting toys. We walk him regularly and run him around the yard and house for exercise. We have fun playing with him. And we have a gate at the entrance to the kitchen and den.

But we can’t keep him penned in all the time. He needs to learn self control. Until then we’ll keep using our bag of tricks and remember that patience and consistency will bring about the desired result of a happy, obedient dog.

Disclaimer - No animal was hurt in the making of this blog.


Anna & Lynn said...

My puppy raising club once got these things called snappy traps for dogs and they would go off in that instance, but it wouldn't hurt the dog :)

here's a link for it:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Anna and Lynn, for the comment and the website address. The device looks a lot like a fancy mousetrap/noisemaker. Since the unset mousetraps are working and are a lot less expensive we'll stick with the old fashioned mousetrap for now. But I'll keep that device in mind if we need it for our next puppy.