Mr. Sensitive

August 13, 2010

Pet Nasty War – Tightening The Blockade

Filed under: Imperial Army,Pet Nasty War — lbej @ 11:18
Tags: ,

Zondro has been peeing in the front hall.  I was aware of several incidents and I was beginning to fear myself at risk of losing the hall, but I needn’t have worried: it was already lost.  I’ve been forced to scuttle both rugs.  They are damaged beyond repair and it is clear to me now that they were never anything but cannon fodder.

This is my mother’s fault.  Despite the fact that she had nothing to do but walk her dog, she decided to teach him to use ‘Pee Pads’ so that he could just pee in the house and she could finish watching Law & Order.   These pads are like little rugs.  So what happened is my mother taught the dog to pee on rugs.

Since we inherited the dog we have taught it successfully that it is supposed to pee when we take it outside.  We used positive reinforcement for this, praise and the occasional dog treat.  The problem is that it doesn’t know that it IS NOT supposed to pee in the house.  A regimen of purely positive reinforcement can work when the decisions the dog has before it are mutually exclusive.  For example, when he sees one of the cats, he can either act aggressively towards it or not act aggressively.  When he makes one choice, he necessary forgoes the other.  He’s gotten better about not attacking them, and when one goes by and he just disregards it, we pat him and praise him for leaving it alone.  This is because he’s only got two choices, attack or don’t, and we can reward him for making the choice we want him to make, knowing that it necessarily prevents him from also making the one we don’t.  This problem is different.  He can pee outside and pee in the house, and in fact is doing precisely that, evidently all the time.  He understands that it is good to pee outside, but he doesn’t understand that he must pee outside, that it is bad to do otherwise.  Thus a program of regular surveilance and reprisal must be imposed immediately.  The problem is not the dog.  If I yell at him and threaten him, and he can make the connection between the yelling and something he’s doing (attacking the cats, for example), he generally seems to stop, if for no other reason that to assess the threat.  He seems to have a sense of self-preservation, along with the equally important sense that he will be unable to preserve himself unless I give him leave to do so, and I can use those things.  Again, he is not the problem.  The softies I live with are the problem.  The other day they just watched him pee on one of the rugs in the hall.  Just watched him, gutless and useless.  So here’s what’s happening.

Directive #1: The current state of urinary anarchy is an imminent threat to the safety and and integrity of the Empire.  During the period of the emergency the execution of all such plans I shall devise and related decisions I shall take will not be contingent upon political approval and it is anticipated that such approval will seldom be sought.  The Empress can rebuke me once the crisis has passed if she sees fit to do so.

Directive #2: The dog will be punished for peeing in the house.  Individuals known to have failed in this duty will be admonished loudly and meanly.  And I’m still going to get the dog, so you’re not doing him any favors by going easy on him.

Directive #3: The dog blockade which has been imposed around the office will be extended to the hallway.  I have spent the morning scrubbing it so as to eradicate definitively every last pee molecule.  However, the crux of the problem is detection.  The color of the wood floor in the hall is evidently the exact color of the offense itself, and it is virtually undetectable when dry.  The only way I can be sure the dog doesn’t pee in the hall is if he’s never in the hall alone.  The dog, therefore, is not longer permitted to enter the hallway except under guard.

I will leave it to my field officers to implement these directives.  If, owing to incompetence or inattention, I am forced to direct day-to-day operations myself you had better believe the courts-martial will be coming.



  1. Had a housebreaking problem with my pup. She learned not to pee in the house when I was at work (great!), but it seems the real lesson she had somehow learned is: I do not pee when I am alone, but if I am with master outside on a walk or with master inside just chilling, I can pee freely. But after months, she is now successfully housebroken. This required keeping a very reliable schedule of walks so that she could count on going out soon (this would obviously be different for a suburban dog who can just ask to go out, but did you know that dogs have a sense of time?), and if we caught her squatting, we would clap and scream and scare her into stopping and then immediately take her outside.

    Anyway, maybe you can get the girls on board for scaring Zondro when they see him squat? It’s different than punishment after the fact and I hear more effective for in-the-moment dog brains.

    Comment by Alison — August 13, 2010 @ 14:04 | Reply

  2. I think the girls are worse than me, especially because they can forget to tell us for days that he peed somewhere. I’m trying to at least contribute by taking him out early!

    Comment by Katie — August 13, 2010 @ 14:14 | Reply

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