Shelley Widhalm

Dog Training 101

In Alpha dog status, Deaf to the word "no", Dog training, First puppy on July 12, 2010 at 2:46 am

Zoey, my miniature dachshund, is very cute and sweet, as many people who meet her tell me, but she also is a bit naughty and very deaf to the word “no.” This made her a difficult trainee during our battle for alpha dog status. Granted, she was my first dog, and I didn’t know what I was doing, despite buying how-to books on puppies, dogs and dachshunds and putting her through puppy kindergarten.

Potty training is a given difficulty in puppy training. I sat outside with Zoey every couple of hours (when I wasn’t at work) to try to convince her that the outdoors was her toilet bowl, not the carpet or the rugs. I think she figured I was accompanying her in the backyard, so I could watch her chew on the wood on the deck stairs or run around, sniffing for thrills. She got treats (and still does) for a successful potty and, after five or six weeks, caught on to the Pavlov response of peeing for treats.

Potty wasn’t so bad, compared to Zoey’s propensity for chewing furniture, biting at pant legs and body parts for attention, barking like a 100-pound dog at the smallest of noises and wanting to go in and out, in and out all day long, as if the grass were greener on whichever side of the fence she did not dominate.

When she was naughty, she would not stop if I told her “no” and was even more determined to continue. If I ignored her or she wanted my attention now! she would become even more mischievous. She was stubborn, manipulative and wanted her own way.

I considered throwing in the towel, selling her, returning her, taking her to the pound. But I loved her, even so.

I tried everything to get her to behave. I told her “no” so often, my vocabulary became stunted. I ignored her, squirted her with a water gun, clapped and made lots of noise, lightly spanked her behind and put her in time-outs. Nothing seemed to work, except time and waiting for her to learn and to grow up. And I, too, had to learn how to understand her and love her back, even when I felt like the runt of our litter.

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