A place of his own

Bigger is not always better. I miss the days when we lived in a 700 sq. ft. apartment. In a home that size, Loki was always near us and always within sight. It’s easier to potty train, because there’s not much space for a dog to sneak away to pee or poop. It’s easier to catch a dog chewing on inappropriate things. It takes less time to go from crate to leash to outdoors. Back then, we also had Loki’s exercise pen out in the living room. This sufficed as his personal space. No matter where we were, whether that was in the kitchen, dining room, on the couch watching TV, or in the den on our computers, we were always within eyesight of the pen. Even the bathroom wasn’t far. If necessary, we could put him in the pen and still never be out of his sight no matter what we were doing save sleeping.

But now, our current house has three floors; it’s much more difficult to keep track of the dogs. Jujube can easily scamper down to the basement and pee right in front of the door if you aren’t at her heels. It’s much easier to lose track of where Loki is; I find myself searching for him all the time. Even if we were to close all the doors inside our home, the main floor has a lot of open space. It’s easy to lose track of where they are and what they are doing.

Dogs like to be near people. In our case, Jujube clings to us. She’s always in the same room as us, if not within five feet of us. And although Loki is more aloof, for the majority of the time, he prefers to be at least on the same floor as us.

This brings us to the problem of the couch, which is on the main floor. Loki thinks that he owns the couch; it’s his primary lounging spot. One of our earlier dog fights was over the couch. Loki was on the couch. When Jujube jumped on, Loki went for her. Since then they have been able to share the couch peacefully, but the dog behaviorist advised us to keep all dogs off the couch and bed. Such elevated places are privileges for well-behaved dogs, not rights. And even though we weren’t having specific issues with the couch anymore, keeping them off the couch and bed may help with other behavior issues.

“Does Loki have his own space?” the behaviorist asked.

“Well, yeah, he has his crate upstairs,” I replied.

“But on this floor?”

“No, not on this floor, but why does that matter?”

“Well, if you don’t want him on the couch and you don’t want him under the piano, he has to go somewhere. He needs a place of his own on this floor. Why don’t you get him a dog bed?”
Hm, I guess that makes sense; we can try that. In the past, Loki always had his exercise pen as his personal space. We don’t use it anymore. The main floor is hardwood and we’re afraid the metal pen might scratch it up. It’s also a bit of an eyesore. He has his crate, but that’s now upstairs. He hardly uses his crate for lounging anyways. In any case, it’s hardly fair to ask Loki to remain on one floor while we are on another. So he needs his own space on every floor. This turns out not to be a problem on either upstairs or in the basement. But on the main floor, he always lounges on the couch. If we don’t want him on the couch, then we need to give him an alternative. He has to be directed somewhere.

For every behavior that you don’t want your dog to do, you need to provide a viable alternative. For example, if you don’t want him digging in your flower bed, then you should provide an area where it’s acceptable to dig. (A tip from the Dogster boards: You can try a sandbox filled with real dirt and bury treats there to lure your dog there.) If you don’t want your dog chewing on your slippers, then you should provide acceptable chew toys. For us, if we don’t want him on the couch, then we need to redirect him to an acceptable spot.


Lee said...

I enjoy reading your website and your anecdotes are all too familiar...

We have an 8 month old Shiba girl and did a lot of research and preparatory work before bringing her into our home.

One thing that has worked very well toward establishing a locus of control, or at least the perception of control, has been installing baby gates at the junctions between each level in our 3 storey house. These gates easily snap into place and have a latch which can be easily applied, despite her best attempts to pull and pry it open. The doors can also be removed when necessary and are not too much of an eyesore. Kami is always on the same level as us and in fact, it also allows us to establish boundaries around mealtime begging and localized destruction while we are away at work. Our upper level contains our bedroom with her bed and food, and a designated pee pad area in the bathroom with her food and another bed. She can move freely between the two rooms during the day whether we are at home or not. When we are at home, we may open the gates leading to the second level, where we eat and lounge,there is also a gate which prevents her from going into the basement unless we are down there. This may seem like a high security institution, but it really isn't that unconventional or much of a hassel and we can't imagaine what it would be like to live without the gates.

You can find out more about our dog by visiting the following sites...






Talk tou you later...


Vi said...

Hi Lee --

Thanks for the tips. We looked into the idea of baby gates. I think that'll be something we will implement when we have human babies.

I posted a comment on the Ottawa Dog Blog. Kami looks adorable! And you have to tell me where you got that brown leather dog bed. It looks very stylish.

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