Days With Dexter = 176

I'm glad I found the JAVA script to do the countdowns.  I refer to the 'Days With Dexter' and shout to Mark in the other room, "Can you believe that we have had Dexter x days?"  Truthfully, the proclamation is generally made from a place of surprise that we have made it so long and so far.  The last month, though, has been pivotal. So the acknowledgement of his time with us is said joyfully, and from a place of true excitement v. exasperation.

To be sure, it has been a long road from his crocodile snapping, kangaroo jumping days to now, where he can sit quietly and contentedly without biting us.  He does have a surge in this unwanted behavior just before the conks out--much like a child who throws a tantrum before going to bed.  The youngster (pup or human) perceives the tiredness as an urging toward action, when in fact mental and physical reserves are low, and the mind and body just need a rest.  (Same for the parents!)

The passage of time and our patient (and at times frustrated) guidance of proper manners have contributed to this delightful transformation.  We still have much to do. Putting Dexter's formal training on the KANBAN board is my new project for the New Moon.  That he has always had a lead on him, and no freedom, we have been continuously shaping his behavior inside:  no table/counter surfing, no attacking his sissies for unwanted play, no chewing of any of our things, no chasing the cats....and the balance of the list that you do not wish your pup to do. 

Potty training was a non event.  We didn't really have to train him.  This guy instinctively knew not to potty inside, though we guessed that he was not an inside dog. He has only pooped once inside (while I was away), and peed maybe 3 times. The most recent yesterday when he elected not to go outside in the pouring rain.  However, to his credit, he came to me, and peed on the floor and was most apologetic about it.  I didn't make a big deal of it, simply because, I should have gone outside with him; and he was contrite. 

He has a real aversion for the cold and the rain. We guess about alot of things for this fella.  That he is a loving, sweet boy with unbounded exuberance, high intelligence and a high drive to please meant that we had plentiful raw material to work with.  Had we been missing any of those positives, then this would be a tougher row to hoe.  It has been plenty tough.  But we are now reaping the benefits of having a mostly well-behaved dog that values and respects his family, and seeks to engage in behaviors that allow him freedom.

The savior in all of this has been his puppy lair which is in my office.  A vinyl wrapped steel cable secured to a sturdy piece of furniture has been a place where we could simply clip him off and enjoy non-Dexter time.  He has a dog bed, water and a window.  It is pleasant space, and it is secure.

His sissies can come visit him if they wish.  I find Angel sleeping in his bed with him from time to time.  Ella, too, will go and visit with him.  When we are home, we take him off the cable, but he always has a trailing lead.  This trailing lead has been indispensable for being able to instantly guide inappropriate behavior to more appropriate behavior.  He is also very responsive when walking, but I use a long lead to give him exercise. I need to renew my instruction on short lead walking and other more refined training. 

Though puppy lair is not punishment, it is a place where he goes to (in full view of his family) when he cannot manage his behavior, to sleep, or when he cannot be supervised. I also clip him in and feed him there. Our goal is to have him there only when he cannot be supervised.  It is only unpleasant because he is removed (though only through a few feet) from his human friends.  What we have found that when he realizes that his behavior will yield a removal, he self-corrects as if to say, "I understand!  I'll sit nicely here with you."

And Dexter sitting nicely here with us is very enjoyable for all of us.   


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