Yesterday was the first day I didn’t have to clean up any pee since adopting Nathan. He learned the word “pee” on the first day. He learned the word “outside” on the first day. He learned that when he goes pee outside he gets treats, and that when he goes pee inside he doesn’t. Unfortunately, he also learned that if we’re not paying enough attention to him, all he needs to do is pee inside and we’ll drop whatever we’re doing and turn our attention to him. The problem isn’t that he has a small bladder, or that we weren’t taking him out enough. Everything I’ve read says that a puppy his age should be taken out every 3-5 hours, and we had been taking him every 2-3. Sometimes, as Whitney recounted, he’d pee literally a half hour after his last potty break.
At first I thought this was Nathan being defiant. I thought he was peeing out of sheer spite. So every night we’d engage in a standoff. He’d take his leash from the shelf and start chewing on it, and like an idiot, I’d take it away from him and spray it with Bitter Apple to prevent him from doing that. It literally took me over a week to figure out that this was his way of saying, “I want to go outside.” But even after learning that little communicative gesture, I still had one lesson to learn. Whether or not he’s peed recently, if he wants to go outside, I owe it to him to take him outside. If I don’t, then he’ll pee inside. That’s just how it is.
So now, we sometimes end up going no more than 10-15 minutes between potty breaks. We take him outside, come back in, and only moments later he’s grabbed his leash off the shelf again. We breathe a heavy sigh, put our shoes back on, and take him out again. Sometimes he doesn’t even want to go outside, and he refuses to leave the front door. Then we trod back up the stairs again. Remaining consistent is how we keep the communication reliable, though. He grabs the leash of the shelf, we take him outside whether he seems like he really wants to or not — whether we’ve just taken him or not. Today he seems to have lost interest in his leash for any purposes other than telling us he wants to go outside, and we haven’t had any accidents to clean up.
My mind is frazzled. I haven’t gotten a lot of sleep. In many ways, he’s like an infant. A huge, fast-running, deviously intelligent infant. But right now he’s asleep on my feet and I couldn’t be happier.