Canine Quandary

Dear Lindsey,

You are familiar with the success principle:

1. Define (what you want to accomplish, Lord willing)

2. Learn (from someone who has accomplished it)

3. Do (Go do what they did. Apply their principles so you are not wandering around unguided in a desert.)

There is one area of the Brady house life right now that REALLY needs to apply those three steps. Her name is Delilah and she is our 7-month-old

Who Me?

Havanese puppy.  In order to start the process of learning, I sent out a letter to my neighborhood association. I was almost laughing by the time I was done typing it, so I thought I would share it with you:

Hi! I just went for a lovely evening walk through our neighborhood and couldn’t help but notice the large quantity of dogs, and how well behaved they are. One sat quietly at its owner’s command while we walked by; another expressed aggressive interest, but stayed in his yard (presumably encouraged by an invisible fence); others were walking on the opposite roadside but acted as though they barely noticed my puppy and me, despite the fact that my puppy was strangling herself trying to get to them.


My puppy has been through the 6 week puppy training at Pet Smart, and it was very helpful; however, there must be more. I have read Puppies for DummiesNo Bad Dogs (just Bad Owners) and How to Raise a Puppy You can Live With….and I can’t live with this one yet. Please let me know if you can recommend the best way to get a well-trained dog, with of course, the least amount of time; however, I understand there is a time commitment to excellence in any area.

For entertainment purposes (for those still reading), here are some facts about my 7-month-old Havanese:

–  She is carpet-trained. She won’t go outside or on the hardwoods, only on the carpet. (OK this one is actually getting better, but we have not made it 24-hours without incident yet.)
–  She ate the wood on our coffee table last week.  Yes. ate.
–  She dug a hole in the wall-to-wall carpet in two places, while there were 6 people in the house at her beck and call.
– If she gets outside without the leash, she bolts quickly to the neighbor’s yard with a vendetta to do her business, as if it is a trick we taught her–despite the fact that since October, we have only taken her to one place to do her business several times a day. (and it was NOT the neighbor’s yard).  SORRY!
– When we use the clicker in the house, she runs to us immediately. If we use the clicker outside, she runs across the street in front of cars or whatever it takes to get away and make us feel foolish trying to get her back.
– She has eaten through 3 leashes. Yes. eaten. three.
– She swallowed two of the medical magnets that were to decrease the pain level in my son’s knee. Everything came out alright.

leash #3, chewed in bed

Coffee table

Chewed Carpet (The red is chili powder to deter future visits, since the store-recommended “Bitter Apple Spray” wasn’t bitter enough to repel her I guess.)

OK, I tell you all the bad, but there are equal amounts of cuteness, that almost make up for the $2000 doctor bills from her hip surgery, because apparently, one of the times she jumped down the hardwood stairs put her femur on the outside of her hip socket. Now I like to say I taught her a trick, called “Walk on 3-legs,” but she is actually starting to use the bad leg again–so it’s time to train her to be a good dog.  🙂

Thank you for any recommendations you have for trainers or methods I should research. Thank you equally for any encouraging words (and not discouraging words- this is not an ignored or maltreated dog).  I am excited to be able to let her one day live outside of her crate and off of a leash in our house, as a trusted member of the family (who doesn’t eat the furniture, etc.).
God bless,
Terri Brady
So girlfriend, there you have it. I have often wondered where my time goes in a day, but letters like this remind me: my time as a domestic engineer is not my own; there are problems to solve.
I have only had a couple of recommendations of local trainers from the neighbors. One promised that her friend’s dog was “a new dog” in one week. I might go with that one and just ask for the new dog.
Love ya!
Related Posts

21 thoughts on “Canine Quandary

  1. Pet Smart dog trainer??? Hmmm, having been a licensed veterinary technician as well as a animal behaviorist for three decades, I can tell you that not all dog trainers are made alike. And, yes the commitment on your part is going to be huge. Just like Team teaches, always make sure your source of information is credible! Get thee to a dog trainer certified by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers in your area! Chose one who only uses positive reinforcement (no punishment). Need help? Message me and I will do what I can from California to guide you. By the way, don’t be surprised when you realize that the trainer spends as much time training you and your family as she spends training the dog!

  2. I feel you on this one but you got to love the dogs, they are members of our families and for some of us our ‘babies’till God decides time for two legged ones. Although our Roxy has given us headaches she has also given us many laughs, like when she ate 6 inches of hubbys leather belt! Once again thanks for sharing your self with us!

  3. I wish I had an answer for you, but maybe try the Dog Whisperer??? LOL By the way, what is a “clicker”?? You referred to it here: “When we use the clicker in the house, she runs to us immediately.” Just curious as to what this may be. Good luck with your puppy training! 🙂

    • The “clicker” is the dollar item at Pet Stores. It makes a loud “click” when you press the spring-loaded button. Because she gets the amazing treat (pepperoni) every time she hears the sound, she runs immediately to me (theoretically). It has been fun for the kids to play hide and seek with her! The Pet Store raved about dogs coming away from snakes because their owner carried the “clicker”. Of course, a recent typo made me think a “clocker” might work as well. LOL!

      • I’ve never heard of that before! I’ll have to check it out next time we go to the pet store!! Thanks! “Clocker” might definitely work better, too!! LOL

  4. Bless you, Terri Brady, as I admire your dedication and patience in allowing your sweet Delihla another chance to remain on Brady property. I am laughing, actually, as I have recently been through this all-familiar story. Easton and I felt that it would be a wonderful Christmas gift for our newly combined family of 6 children, to sneak a 6-week old Shitzhu puppy into the family stocking on Christmas Eve. We knew that this fuzzy little creature would be the glue that would allow our children to bond, share in the care, love, and responsibility, and make our new little family complete. And then….. Well, all things said above, minus the chewing of the furniture and add in a little barf (who needs carpet, anyways?), our fun days of pet ownership became a quick reality of “what in the world did we do?”
    Months went by and somehow our family of 8 could not seem to house-train or convince this small creature that marking up our entire home was not an option anymore. Summers in AZ are a mere 114, and “Tipsy” wasn’t about to show his little paws across the door threshold. In the meantime, we moved homes and my children soon realized that if the dog did not become “potty-trained”, mom had a happy home (fully tiled btw), that would gladly adopt him. I became very popular as you can imagine. I sought advice from the breeder. “What have I done wrong?”, I said, and she kindly said that it could be months to years before a Shitzhu can become fully house trained. Ugh! And then she said something that clicked in that moment. “Rebecca, this is what I tell my dog’s owners. You have 3 options when it comes to training. DO IT, DELEGATE IT, or DROP IT.” I knew at that moment that I was going to give him 3 more strikes and then, if it wasn’t going to work out, a new family would love him just the same. I prayed to God that the decision to give him to another family would be a blessing they were asking for. And it was. Our kids lovingly gave him as a gift to a family looking for a Shitzhu, had adopted many others that were not trained, and were gifted in getting these little guys to “go” outside. Grateful that God has given me lots of gifts, training dogs is not one of them, and that He allowed the perfect family to show up at the perfect time. Ask Him. He’ll know what to do…..
    Best of luck and love,
    Rebecca Kelsey

  5. there have been discussions in our household whether we should get a dog. I am not a dog person. Your comments are reinforcing how I feel about them – I don’t like my stuff destroyed and with three kids, I’m really not looking for more entertainment, discipline, etc. We also live on an extremely busy street and I don’t want anything to happen. However I see the look in my childrens’ eyes as they talk about “maybe we’ll get a dog” and that is hard to ignore.

    • Ha! Sorry to dampen your dream:) What sold me on the dog idea was a friend telling me that her teenager still acts like a kid every time he is near the dog…as if he is able to be himself without the pressures of life. That’s the escape my little dog was for me as a teen, so I could see some positives. Of course, the dog wet on my teenager’s bed last night, so it is not the bonding we are hoping for…yet. Thanks for writing!

  6. Sorry to hear ur having such a difficult time with ur puppy. My puppy just turned 1 yrs old March 13. I’ve tried the spray bottle w vinegar n water, the clicker, I put sanitizer on certain surfaces she kept messing w, placing a toy in her mouth when she’s chewing on something she’s not supposed too then praising her for chewing her toy, I bought her tons of chew n squeaky toys n bones, but I found the best thing that works for my boyfriend n I is the shock collar. We used it from lowest to 2. It goes to 6. It has helped train her not to chew on stuff, still working on the jumping on people. When anyone drives up the driveway, I trained her to sit (we have a wireless fence) until the car is parked n turned off then she can ran over to the car n greet them. Now that she knows the effect of the remote, all we have to do sometimes is tell her no n hold the tv remote up n she shapes up. Every time I took her out to go potty (that’s basically the word for bathroom) when she was a puppy n she went I gave her a couple pieces of dog food then praised her like crazy. Taking her out every half hour got old but it worked. I hope Delilah starts behaving soon for u n ur family. 🙂

  7. So funny Terri! I feel your pain!!! I am not quite the dog lover as many people are, our puppy chewed the piano bench and anything else that was free game on the floor! 🙂 We did read the “Dog Whisperer” and a few things helped from there. But I have heard that unfortunately, little dogs like that take a very long time to potty train. Maybe you could put a diaper on it like a baby!! Just kidding! It makes me laugh just thinking about it. Oh the joys of puppyhood! We have been told that the puppy will get better with age but for us, if the kids don’t exercise him enough, he finds something to chew to get our attention! Those rascally dogs!

  8. Terri,

    I am laughing because it is all of these antics that will make the best memories. When we lost our 14.5 year old labrador, George, it was one of the hardest experiences of my life. He had been a part of our family longer than we had had children. John’s thought was, … “If we can keep him alive, them we will talk about kids.” On the day we buried him in the woods on the family property, we each brought a memento to throw into his grave and shared a favorite memory. We laughed, cried, and healed. Here are a few….

    * I remember George patiently sitting, carefully nipping at the feet of the babies rocking in their baby swings, slowly pulling off their socks and then running away hiding them deep in his cheek. I would chase him, catch him and he would look at me with those big brown eyes like.. “What, I don’t have anything.”

    * My father-in-law remembered the time he had hidden the cake for the surprise birthday celebration in the downstairs. The look on his face when he came upstairs with a plate, completely licked clean, was priceless.

    * John remembered the hole George chewed in the middle of the wall. Not a corner…. but right smack in the middle. Something must have tasted good, and he just kept going.

    * The smell of a labrador who has spent a week swimming at Houghton Lake is…. “special”. Sort of like a sweatshirt that has been put away damp and is taken out of the closet weeks later. Yuck!

    We hear from the TEAM stage…. tragedy plus time equals humor. Enjoy the journey! 🙂



  9. Hi There,
    The best book I have ever read on dog training is Training Your Dog the Step by Step Manual by Joachim Volhard and Gail Tamases Fisher. I’ve used it to train 2 of my puppies and have had 100s of comments about how well-behaved and smart they are. It truly is a step by step for any breed, very clear cut, and tons of information and illustrations in 230 easy to read pages. I would HIGHLY recommend this to help you get “control” of little Delilah! 🙂 Best Regards, Lynda
    p.s. Someone mentioned a doggy diaper. I actually did this with one puppy who had no bladder control. She wore it no problems and it helped tremendously while she was learning. She had a little bladder infection that made it hard for her to hold it for longer than 15 minutes! You could consider it while you’re working on things. Saved our off-white carpets!

  10. Terri,

    I love to see you and your family have a wonderful addition to the familyl. I apologize if I repeat tips, I kinda glanced through the comments. I have two golden retrievers, they are absolutely wonderful and well trained. Although, I used to think we got lucky with our first pick, as she is very obedient, and our younger one is a bit more of a free spirit.

    Our younger one is 3 and she is getting trained by myself this summer. Finishing up her training, walk without a leash, let her outside without a leash. Total obediance (sp?) is expected. I’ve done a bit of research this last winter because I’m in the process of getting them to a point where I can count on then to listen to my commands immediately. I’m just going to give a few bullet points of things to be aware while teaching your dog to act in public. Tell Chris this is me expressing my gratitude for his bullet points. =)

    1. Review your sources and get an idea of what system of commands you prefer. A couple of commands to keep in your arsenal that I’d recommend.
    A-Reinforcement Command
    B-Stop and listen command
    C-A bad command, for certain circumstances.

    There are 5 kids, well adults now and 1 kid, that are all around the dog quite consistently. So one of the problems I am running into is consistency across the board.

    When training your dog, keep in mind that there will be 4 kids and your husband that will be giving Delilah commands as well.

    2. Write your basic commands down, and go through them with the family. The trick is to keep every thing consistent long enough so that it becomes a habit for not only the dog but your family as well. Don’t be afraid to show them how to give the commands and have them practice afterwards.

    3. Keep a bag of small treats around for a reward.

    4. Watch your body language!
    –Dogs are masters at reading body language, keep in mind that dogs are VERY social creatures and, in nature, they stick in packs. Delilah naturally views your family as a pack, there is a leader or a couple that leads the family. Make sure she realizes that you and Chris are those people.

    4. I seen The Dog Whisperer referenced. I strongly recommend this source. He was one of the people I researched. I love to see his perspective of Dogs. Our 12 year old golden retriever listens phenomally, but since we brought in our 3 year old golden and quickly learned that the same methods don’t necessarily work for all dogs.

    He uses an excitedness level rating. He says that a dog has to be anywhere from a 0-2 excitedness to actually listen to you. This helped me immensly when teaching our 3 year old golden to walk without a leash in public.

    It’s this step when watching your body language is important. Your body language can easily excite your dog and when she is excited, she just won’t listen.

    I know this getting a bit lengthy so I’ll try to wrap it up with things you can do in your particular scenario.

    Chewing, try to catch Delilah in the act and respond immediately. If you wait there is a good chance she won’t understand why she is getting punished. I recommend in this case for you to associate chewing with negative consequences. Goldens are very timid dogs so I have to be careful when punishing them. Bring Delilah to the scene of the crime and a soft (and I do mean soft!) slap on the nose with a stern tone of voice. Dogs learn faster from positive reinforcement than punishment. So if you catch her chewing one of her chew toys, reinforce that and maybe play with her a bit. Make her know toys are ok to chew.

    This along with going potty inside the house are what I call sporadic events that are harder to stop than things that happen in isolated times.
    I personally feel punishment is necessary for these incidents so they know it is unacceptable.
    Again, tone of voice IS your biggest asset when punishing.

    I recommend checking out the dog whisperer for teaching her how to walk on a leash. It has worked the best for me and this has always been one of the more difficult tasks for me when training my dogs.

    Lol patience and love are great tools.

    Also, if something doesn’t work, move on and try something else.

    Hope it helps, sorry about the awful spelling and lengthy explanations.


  11. For sure, it’s the least I could do after how you and Chris have blessed my life.

    Naw, but seriously I love seeing it when a family reaches that point of complete trust with their dog. It’s peacefull! =)

    We have reached that point with our older dog. Complete trust in public without a leash (of course where allows), she does her own thing and stays within a whistle distance from me.. She doesn’t bark at people and I can trust her around kids. Doesn’t give other dogs the time of day. It’s a great feeling because they are no longer a burden in any way. I truly believe any dog can learn.

    I would love to see a blog about your experience at the end of the summer.

  12. Hi! Wisconsin Public Radio has a show called “Calling all Pets.” The hostess is a certified animal behaviorist who teaches at the UW Vet school and raises Border Collies (what she calls graduate level dogs). She is very good and has a book that I don’t remember the name of but can still be obtained about raising puppies and their owners. Her name is Patricia McConnel (sp?).

    Mike Gray-Ehnert
    Team Results

  13. You could alway adopt additional dogs (meaning 2-4)! You never can tell, one or more of them might present worse challenges than does Delilah…then you would feel oh, so fortunate to love and enjoy Delilah and all her little antics!!!!!!! ha

    Love ya,

  14. Oh no! This is probably not helping Chris’ feelings toward dogs to begin with! We had a similar situation with our dog. I did clicker training with him, and thought it worked very well. It’s hard when you don’t see immediate results but he loved getting rewarded with the click and a treat and eventually he started obeying without it. A couple books I’d recommend are “The Loved Dog” and “30 Days to A Well Mannered Dog” both by Tamar Gellar. Good luck keep us updated on the journey!

  15. Pingback: Sue Estes - Show your love - share your faith - spread a little kindness!

  16. I’ll trade puppy/dog. Mine loves to run and play and very long walks daily. He will tell me when he has to go out and if he has his way it will be twice a day. The problem, I’m training him to be a service dog he does great in the home but outside it’s”did you see that leaf fly by, that German Shepherd is having a bad day, “ all the while walking nicely by my left side. He is a Shih Tzu and loves everyone and other dogs. Why I want a puppy because they are so cute and eager to learn. I’ll trade my adorable for your adorable. Or
    Don’t give up your puppy will finally do as you asked. Some are more challenging than others.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s