Dog's Eye View: Part 2 — Meet Maxwell SMART

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Meeting Max for the first time was very interesting. He was a bit hesitant but took to handling the way most little dogs do. He accepted being picked up by the big guy with a beard, my husband, and lifted his head to plant the first kiss on my husband’s nose. Really SMART thinking Max! They were hitting it off really well, and I kiddingly said that the male bonding had begun.

Laura Tyler

Laura Tyler is a certified professional dog trainer with 25 years of experience and has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She owns Total Teamwork Training LLC in Northwest Colorado.

Dog's Eye View

This weekly column about dog training publishes on Fridays in the Steamboat Today. Read more columns here.

Throughout the first week, we kept surveillance on Max and only allowed him out in a room if we were there to supervise. That way he couldn’t get away with finding a secret pee spot. He attempted to lift his leg on the stair banister one time but was caught right away.

He was taken outside to pee right away and then we knew that this “potty training” issue had signs of “adult urine marking,” which can be problematic. So vigilance would be the key to successfully teaching Max where his “marking” should happen.

Once again, Skippy to the rescue. She also likes to mark where other dogs have peed. So letting Max out with Skippy would show him where he could “mark,” too.

This, so far, is working out really well. The other important factor is that my husband is retired, and between the two of us, someone is with the dogs most of the time.

Max also is overweight. He’s about 11 pounds and should weigh about 9 pounds. If food was left out for Max to eat any time he felt like, no weight loss would occur. And that might add to the potty training difficulties he had in his former homes.

So how do you measure an appropriate amount of dog food for a 9-pound dog?

We measure out a daily amount of food and training treats, and by the end of the day, there still are a few tiny pieces left.

He’s fed part of his daily meal out of the food bowl and the rest as training incentives. He’s active and his coat is shiny, and he is becoming more alert every day. Bonus points here for two humans who also need a daily walk. No more excuses!

The family walk now is a daily occurrence, and we all benefit.

The first week’s morning schedule in our home looked like this:

• First thing in the morning, Max goes out to pee or not. Max has a bit of trouble going outside when it’s cold. If nothing happens outside, then Max goes back in the kennel until breakfast.

• Breakfast and a few minutes of family time and training (100 percent supervised), then back to his crate for about 30 to 60 minutes.

• He goes out again to the yard to “do his business” under the supervision of my husband or me (treats in the pocket for marking success). Skippy has been a great help in that she likes to explore the backyard to make sure no neighborhood cats have camped out and Max will follow her like the trailing little brother he has become. Where she goes, he goes, literally. Then she tries to encourage him to a game of chase. His stamina is increasing every day.

• The rest of his day is similar in that he is supervised with regular trips outside and lots of love, fun and bonding with his new family.

Max is enrolled in our family dog class with my husband. The first night in class, Max sat in his lap so that he could see the big dogs. And Skippy, kenneled nearby, demonstrates the new exercises our family dogs are learning. This is a new adventure and a very time consuming commitment for us. I am now in the role of practicing what I teach, which is great fun.

More to come on Max later.

Laura Tyler is a certified professional dog trainer with 25+ years of experience and has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She owns Total Teamwork Training LLC here in Northwest Colorado.

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