Adventures in being a dog owner

It’s been a little over a week since we’ve acquired Molly, and my god, the progress. Today is the first day she hasn’t peed in the house, and that alone has taken a huge weight off of J and me. I’ve never trained a puppy, so there were a few days of experimentation as to what methods work, and there is a startling difference, at least when it comes to housebreaking, between the results from when we either reward her for good behavior or punish her for bad behavior. Putting Molly’s nose in her latest wet spot and then putting her outside did absolutely nothing. For the last two days, J and I have both gone outside with her and gave her a treat after she peed (before we only verbally praised her), and she seems to finally understand what it is we’re asking of her.

She is also (mostly) sleeping through the night; she’ll come to bed with us, wake up around two or three to come on our bed and snuggle, go back to her bed after a few minutes, and then wake up again around seven, demanding to be fed and let outside. It’s not a perfect system, but at least it’s stable.

The hardest part so far was the one night I had to break Molly of the incessant barking. J and I put Molly in our room to get her used to going to her bed at night without us, and for a few hours, I stood outside our door with a water bottle, waiting to squirt her if she started barking loudly. I wasn’t at all comfortable with this, but J insisted that I needed to learn how to discipline. By the sixth time I had to spray Molly, she was cowering every time she saw me, which quickly brought me to tears. An hour more of that, and I found myself in J’s lap, crying and telling him that I am a terrible pet owner and I will therefore be a terrible mother. It made perfect sense at the time. The next day, though, I was greeted by our puppy as though nothing had happened…and the crazy barking has not occurred since. It broke my heart to punish her without being able to sit her down and explain why her barking was so very annoying and causing everyone in the house to tear their hair out, but I can’t deny that it worked. Hopefully, though, it won’t be a teaching method that I’ll have to use often.

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