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Monday, June 6, 2016

I Can’t Seem to House-Train My Puppy!

By Megan Schreiber Willman

In the Willman household, the TV remote control, among other things, is not safe from Fezzik the puppy.

He weighed three pounds when we brought him home, so we named him Fezzik in an ironic reference to the giant in the movie, The Princess Bride. A Shi Tzu/Bichon mix weighing 10 pounds today, Fezzik is a very furry, incredibly adorable 8 month old who is testing the very limits of my patience. Have you ever used the expression, “It’s a good thing he’s so cute…” when your child is exasperating you? Well, that’s how it is with Fezzik, and his cuteness saves his life every day. Hold on, animal lovers, I’m joking. His life is not in danger, but my sanity is!

I can’t seem to house-train this puppy. On the very day I proposed writing this piece, he looked right at me, peed on the floor, and then somehow managed to poop (if I may use pre-school lingo) on our television remote! My son was impressed with Fezzik’s pinpoint accuracy on that one. But I’m not looking to raise a trick dog in the defecation department; I would like this family friend to go to the door, bark, and let me know he needs to go out. Am I asking too much?

To be fair, his sister Molly (a Jack Russell) house-trained in what felt like seconds. She was so easy that I didn’t have to employ all the tricks I was prepared to use in house-training my first-born pet. Apparently, this second time around, I was too complacent. And now I’m paying the price. I made the mistake of assuming the second dog would be as easy as the first. There’s no good in that. Dogs, like people, are individuals. And I’m looking like a singular fool because this little guy has me tied up in knots.

Sometimes he gets it. If I am vigilant and attentive, he goes outside every time. I was prepared for this level of supervision for a few months, but shouldn’t he have it by now? Convinced the failure was mine, I sought guidance from Here are a few of their suggestions, in no certain order:
  • Crate the puppy. Most dogs won’t “go” where they sleep, so it teaches them to wait until you let them outside.
  • Take the puppy outside every two hours.
  • Repeat the same words every time he goes out. We use “outside” and “potty.”
  • Praise the puppy when he does well.
  • Do not shame him or get angry when accidents occur. Simply say “no” and take him outside.
  • Keep the food schedule consistent. Dogs will need to go out first thing in the morning and shortly after each meal.
  • The puppy is just doing what is natural to him. The owner needs to control the situation.
That last one gets me. The old “It’s not you, it’s me” routine. But in truth, I’m doing some of these things but not all of them, and not consistently enough. The truth hurts. Time for some patience and some consistency, the good ol’ parenting tricks. And luckily, he’s just cute enough for me to grin and bear it until the task is done.

Do you have a puppy who seems impossible to house-train? What have you learned about being a pet owner? 


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