Friday, July 16, 2010

Housetraining Andy

Housetraining Andy was so much easier than it was for Abby for the most part. Having Abby around combined with the fact that Andy was a follower, meant Abby essentially helped to house train Andy. I don’t remember Andy having the problems using the bathroom inside to the extent Abby had. All we had to do was let Abby outside and Andy would follow. Once outside, Andy figured out that it was a ‘bathroom break’ and acted accordingly. However, Abby wasn’t around Andy all the time. In the times Abby was away from Andy is when Andy would go off the reservation and use the bathroom in the house.

For example, my mom’s bed was positioned in the middle of her room making it quite easy for Andy to slip out of bed and soil the carpet somewhere. He thought he was slick by climbing back in the bed and acting like nothing in the world was wrong. His facial expressions often gave him away before the ‘present’ was discovered because he would lie on the bed without his relaxed appearance and have his head resting on his front paws while his eyes were slit open and cutting at you. My Little Man would not have been a good poker player. This drove me nuts because Andy knew this was wrong but didn’t bother trying to wake anyone to let him out like Abby did.

When Andy did use the bathroom at night, he would often sneak into my mom’s bathroom and relieve himself on the bathroom rug. Other times, he would sneak outside the bedroom and go to the side door and take care of business there. As a matter of fact, if my mom’s bedroom door was open, it was an open invitation for Andy to go and use the bathroom. Fortunately my mom caught on quickly to this behavior and kept her bedroom door closed at night which dramatically cut down on Andy’s midnight bathroom breaks.

There were a couple of factors making it very difficult to fully address Andy’s potty issues. First, my mom was even more slack about disciplining Andy than she was with Abby. When I would ask my mom if she spanked Andy, she simply replied, “No, he’s too cute.” I am a firm believer in negative feedback and was at my wit’s end when my mom did this. Andy knew that using the bathroom in the house was bad as evidenced by his body language when he was about to be exposed for his naughty behavior. He needed to be punished, but my time around him was limited so I wasn’t able to fully exert my will on him. Andy knew he could get away with it and kept doing it.

Something else foiling my attempts at punishing Andy was Abby. She absolutely hated to see Andy get spanked. When I did try to spank Andy in front of Abby, Abby would walk between us in an attempt to block me from Andy. She would then sit on her haunches and try to ‘huggy and kissy’ me. It was the same tactic she used when I spanked her except now she was trying to protect Andy. After looking at those those sad eyes and her pitiful begging, I almost always stopped the spanking and hugged Abby first and then Andy. As cute as I thought this was, it hampered my attempts to discipline Andy and make him understand what he did wrong.

A few years later after I had moved back to Raleigh, I returned from work and noticed that Andy left a ‘present’ in the guest bathroom. I knew it was Andy. Anyway, I let the dogs out, and when they tried to come back in, I let Andy in who was first in line (He was always first in line. He insisted on being the first in the house. It was a manifestation of his separation anxiety), then I blocked Abby from coming in with my hand. I had to put some might into it because she was determined to go back inside; my baby girl was strong. I closed the door with Abby looking up through the glass in a quizzical way. I then marched Andy back to the guest bathroom, pointed at the feces and asked ‘Did you do that?’ He did his best to look away and would not look at it or me. And then I went over and gave him a ‘little spank’ on his rump. Telling him that I was going to spank him hurt him more than the actual spanking itself.

Once the spank was over, I let Abby and Father in, and our lives returned to normal. Did my punishment work? I don’t know. Andy was relatively good about not going inside after that. I must admit that Abby had set the bar pretty high when it came to this matter.

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