Bichon Frise Lola is now nearly 5 months old and an exceptionally easy puppy. Isn’t she delightful!
She never nips and she’s not demanding. This is fortunate because the family has five young children.
They have another dog also, a gorgeous and rather reserved fifteen-month-old Goldendoodle called Sam. Both dogs get on famously when they are together.
Lola spends long periods of time in her crate in the dining room, mainly because she may otherwise toilet all over the place but also because she may run around the house and they don’t want the dogs loose anywhere but in the utility room.
Toilet training doesn’t work like that.
With the five little children life is a bit of a juggling act.
It is Lola’s toileting training regime I was asked to help address, but this leads on to other things. Unfortunately, this toilet training can’t be done without changing her entire lifestyle. At the moment she is seldom taken outside so has, in effect, been taught that the puppy pad in her crate is the place to go.
She is always carried, so would not have learnt that if she wants to go to the toilet, it starts with walking towards and then out of the garden door.
It is a little concerning also that, because she doesn’t go out to meet new people and dogs, the window for effective socialisation and getting her exposed to things that may later frighten her is now closing. As she’s such an easy-going character, they may still have time.
Another thing is that she doesn’t seem to understand coming when called, which is unusual for a puppy. This will be because she is pulled, not called, out of her crate and then carried everywhere (to discourage the toileting or running off into other parts of the house).
I have suggested an intensive fortnight of working with Lola’s recall and toilet training, and then I shall go and see them again. No more carrying her about all the time!
At present she is crated from 7pm to 7am without a break as well as for much of the day. I have suggested a smaller crate – no bigger than her bed – which she should only be shut in at night-time or when they are out and at other times she can be in the utility room with Sam. It would, however, not be fair to put her in a bed-sized crate without giving her plenty of opportunities to toilet outside so she isn’t forced to mess her bed.
Last thing at night before being shut in her new little crate she needs to be walked outside (not carried). She needs to be accompanied (even in the cold and rain) and rewarded when she performs. First thing in the morning, instead of leaving her in the crate until they have done some other jobs, they need to take her outside the moment they come downstairs.
I suggest the family draws up a rota so that Lola is taken out every half hour she is awake, immediately she has woken up, immediately they come home and any time she starts to sniff and prowl. She needs to go out after each meal. She needs praise and reward for going outside, whereas accidents indoors should get no reaction at all.
Using food they can teach her to follow them into the garden; they can teach her to come in again without having to chase her, they can teach her to go in and out of her crate without any man-handling.
I hope they have made some good progress in a fortnight’s time, because then I shall be teaching one of the children how to clicker train her puppy to sit, and also how to walk nicely beside them.
Giving Lola more attention and freedom may ‘unleash the puppy’ within her to the extent that she may become more lively and ‘naughty’, but that is what puppyhood should all be about, isn’t it.
NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own puppy may be different to the approach I have worked out for Lola whose situation is fairly unique, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own puppy can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with parenting strategies specific to your own puppy (see my Get Help page).