Thursday, October 11, 2012

17-Weeks Progress Report, Plus Progress for Sam!

Margot turned 17 weeks-old yesterday, but unfortunately the only thing I have to report is that she STILL isn’t housebroken.  Up until now, I wasn’t very concerned because I kept telling myself, “She’s still rather young to fully be housebroken,” but I think I’ve finally reached the point of frustration over this.  

17 weeks-old
The reason I’m so frustrated is because Margot WANTS to use the bathroom outside.  If we leave the kitchen door and the sliding back door open during the day, she will get up off the couch and go all the way outside to use the bathroom, and then come back inside all by herself.  However, if that kitchen door or the sliding back door are shut when she has to go, she doesn’t whine, she doesn’t scratch at the door or ring those darn bells, she doesn’t come stare at us, and she doesn’t even sniff around much to find a spot.  She gives NO indication that she has to use the bathroom, but if that back door isn’t already open for her when she has to go, she just immediately uses the bathroom in the kitchen.  It’s gotten to the point that either Justin or I will jump off the couch and follow Margot every time she walks into the kitchen because she will do her business within a matter of seconds if she sees that door is shut.  I’ve even caught her mid-accident on a few occasions, yelled, “NO!  Outside!”, then taken her outside and praised her like crazy if she finished using the bathroom in the yard, but it just still hasn’t seemed to click with her that she is not allowed to use the bathroom in the house.  It’s like she thinks that it’s acceptable as long as the back door is shut.  It doesn’t even occur to her that we will open the door FOR her if she will just let us know that she wants out.   
I think my next move is going to be taking Margot and Sam’s water bowl out of the kitchen and, instead, putting a water bowl beside each of their food bowls in the dining room, which is connected to the living room.  Right now, whenever Margot goes into the kitchen, we’re never sure if she has to use the bathroom or if she’s just thirsty.   So, if I put her water bowl in the dining room where I can see it, then she really won’t have any other need for going into the kitchen, other than if she wants to go outside.  I’ve even thought about blocking the two doorways to the kitchen with baby gates in the hope that she’ll actually whine or paw at the gate if she wants in the kitchen.   At this point, these are the only options I can think of that I haven’t tried yet.  I’m wide open to suggestions, though, if anyone out there has any.

In other news, I do have something very positive to report about Sam.  For the last two days, I’ve taken Sam and Margot for a walk together after I’ve gotten home from work, all by myself!  The reason why this is such a big deal is because Sam is usually a nightmare to take on a walk because she barks and pulls on her leash the entire time.  The last time Justin and I took the girls for a walk, he had his hand wrapped around Sam’s leash, and she pulled so hard on it for so long that his hand actually turned blue.  For this reason, I thought that I could never walk both of the girls by myself because it would just be too much for one person to handle.  However (don’t laugh), I’ve been watching so many episodes of “The Dog Whisperer” lately that Cesar Millan has basically become my mentor.  I’ve learned a lot about how a dog owner’s energy can affect their dog’s behavior, and I realized that whenever I decide to take Sam for a walk, I automatically expect the worst behavior from her and assume that the experience is going to be a nightmare, even before we leave the house. 

It breaks my heart how much this reminds me of Lexie.
So, a couple of days ago I decided to put Cesar’s teachings to the test.  As soon as I let Sam onto the front porch to put on her harness, she began her usual routine of barking and whining, and wouldn’t sit still long enough for me to put the harness on her.   I immediately tensed up and felt that sense of dread and annoyance that I always feel whenever this happens; however, this time I was more aware of how I was feeling and reacting to Sam’s behavior.  So, I stopped trying to put Sam’s harness on her for a moment, and instead I took a deep breath and tried to rid myself of those negative feelings.  This wasn’t easy, mind you, because Sam’s barking only intensified once I stopped trying to put the harness on her, but I did my best to try to remain as calm and in control of the situation as possible.  As I walked out the front door with Sam and Margot on their leashes, instead of thinking, “Oh God, here we go….” like I usually do, I simply thought to myself, “I am their pack leader,” and began walking down the street with a newfound sense of confidence.  To my complete and total shock and amazement, Sam never even tried to pull me once!  She simply walked right by my side, and I was able to keep my arm completely relaxed as I held her leash.  Margot pulled on her leash a little bit during the walk, but that was mostly because she had more of that curious, playful puppy mentality and was excited by all the new sights and smells.  All I had to do was give Margot’s leash a little tug, though, and she’d stop pulling.

I was so impressed by Sam’s good behavior by the end of our walk that I almost couldn’t believe it.  So, I decided to try walking both of the girls again yesterday evening, just to make sure it hadn’t been a fluke, and I’m happy to report that it wasn’t!  Sam was just as well behaved yesterday as she was the day before.  I wish you guys could have seen how bad she was during walks before these last couple of days, because I’m not kidding when I say that the difference is truly amazing.  I’m actually very anxious to go home today and walk them again because I love being able to get out and enjoy our little neighborhood and Ritter Park with them.  It’s good for all of us, both mentally and physically.

Anyway, there are a few other things I could write about, but instead I think I’ll just leave you with some photos I’ve taken over the past week.  After all, they’re worth a thousand words, right?  ;)

It's definitely snuggle weather!
After a long day at the dog park.
Play date with Elsea!
Oh, just getting buried at the dog park.
Margot's a fan of the fireplace. :)


  1. One thing I've heard about potty training that seems to actually keeping her on a leash in the house. Yeah it sounds really annoying and lame but if she's on the leash then she can't go pee somewhere or chew things she shouldn't or do anything bad. I actually did this with Nala and she never peed while on the leash. And then I would take her out occasionally. She holds it for a really long time and hardly has any accidents. My sister's 1 yr old Jack Russell has way more accidents than Nala. Sadly I am being forced to give my Nala to my other sister. :( I am soooo sad and heartbroken..

  2. Oh no! I'm sorry to hear that about Nala! :(

  3. Me too. :( It's made me cry so many times just thinking about it. She's my baby..I've raised her from 6 weeks..when she was this sick little ball of fur. Bleh. I know my sister and her husband will love her like she's their child and take good care of her. :/

    1. Well, at least you know she will still be very loved, and you will still be able to visit her! :)

    2. Nah I won't be able to see her for like 3 years. My sister's husband is in the Army and is being deployed to Germany so they're taking her with them.

  4. Hi, I came across your blog from Ramsey and Pablo's site. First of all I wanted to let you know how sorry I am over your loss of Lexie you did everything possible it really sounds like the doctors let you down and I would have been as upset as I know you were!!
    I lost my 15 year old Shih Tzu "Prissy" Christmas Day last year...she was my shadow and having to make that final call is the hardest one I have EVER made. I have her "husband" still who is 18 and soon he will be joining her as his health and body have started to falter. After I lost her the weeks that followed were lonely I don't sleep well and she was always by my side I understand the void you felt it is rough after about 1 month my family suggested that we get another shih-tzu and I was not for it I didn't want to replace my baby =\ after about 7 weeks I did get a puppy and I realized it did not replace Prissy but it did distract me from the sites,sounds and most of all feeling lonely.
    Potty training at first was a nightmare (or it felt like it) after years of having house trained babies here I was back at step one....I know the frustration you have about not ringing the bells or "asking" you to go out...we had the same problem but we were determined and it paid off you probably already do this but this is what we did.....
    After a accident we would take Bella to the spot and tell her NO! we took a paper towel and blotted the spot carried her to the door let her sniff the it tell her potty outside Bella took her paw scratched the door or bells we have them and carried her outside put the paper towel down on the grass again told her potty outside let her smell the towel then told her GOOD girl Bella potty outside!! yes, it IS a lot of work BUT it worked within about 3 weeks and of course this was when we were at home so there were BIG gaps in between training...we recently adopted Bella's brother from another litter as Cody my 18 year old is having troubles and we have housetrained him the same way....Good Luck I know its frustrating

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It warms my heart whenever people tell me they've read Lexie's blog. I'm still not even close to being over that whole ordeal, but it always makes me feel good whenever I know that people continue to be touched by her story.

      I have tried the potty training technique you suggested (taking Margot's messes outside), and that was actually very helpful when we first brought her home, but it doesn't really help much with teaching her to ASK to go outside. I'm just going to keep doing what we've been doing (jumping up and letting her go out every time she walks into the kitchen) and hopefully she will just "get it" at some point. Part of me wonders if this situation will improve once she starts vocalizing more. Right now, she doesn't bark or anything. The only time she purposefully vocalizes is when she's playing with Sam or another dog, and it's just sort of an "Ah-ah-ah," kind of sound. She rarely whines, either, but I'm sure that will start happening soon. Perhaps once she figures out how to use her voice then she'll also figure out she can use her new powers to get things that she wants. haha!