Category Archives: Home Life

Doggy Bathroom 102: Indoor Pads Are For Life

When I’m out walking with Ted and we encounter someone with a puppy, Ted is always ready to stop to admire “the little fellow.” Frankly, puppies are not my favorite things; they have much too much energy, always pouncing at me, so I have to leap back out of their reach.  Whenever Ted stops for one, I “climb” his leg, begging him to pick me up, and of course he does.

Ted says, “That’s such a cute puppy!” and the puppy’s person stops because everyone likes compliments, especially a new, proud owner. After asking about the breed, commenting on the color, the dog’s friendliness and whatever else, Ted invariably brings up the obvious, “I see you’re trying to train him,” as the puppy is being led from steps to planters to posts, anywhere the owner thinks the puppy might be encouraged to do his business out-of-doors.  Ted asks the person, “Can I offer you a little advice?”

“You and your pup will be living together now for the next ten to fifteen years,” Ted says.   “You can avoid a lot of discomfort and inconvenience for both of you over those years if you train your puppy to use wee-wee pads.”[1]

Standard 22 x 23 inches
Standard 22 x 23 inches

[1] FYI by Ted:  People often refer generically to absorbent pads for housetraining and housetrained dogs by one of their better-known brand names, “Wee Wee Pads,” a trademark registered by Four Paws Products, Ltd., Hauppauge NY.  Other manufacturers and retailers sell them under various descriptive names like “puppy training pads,” “dog training pads,” “housebreaking pads,” “training  pads” or, recognizing lifelong use, simply as “absorbent pads” picturing a dog on the packaging.  A long list of brands can be found on in Pet Supplies/dog training pads.

Costco and Sam's Club Brands
Costco and Sam's Club Brands

Prices vary according to boxed quantity, but can range from 39 cents per pad (150-count) for Wee Wee Pads® at Petco to, under other brand names, 40 cents (150-count) at PetSmart, 23 cents (100-count, x-large) at Costco and 13 cents (120-count) at Sam’s Club.   Note: The warehouse stores also sell similarly-constructed, larger-sized absorbent pads for use under the bed sheets of incontinent elderly people; cut in half, these work out to about 10 cents per half-pad.  It is hard to beat the neatness and convenience of professionally-made pads, but the expense can be avoided entirely by using instead several sheets of newspaper laid flat over a reusable plastic sheet cut from a garbage bag, treated with a bit of “potty here” spray.

Quite often the person answers, “I started him on those indoor pads, but now I’ve taken them away, because I want my pup to learn to go outside.”

Ted tells the person, “Don’t remove them. That just confuses him; it’s a step backwards and destroys what you’ve already accomplished.  If you take your dog outside regularly, he’ll want to do his business out-of-doors anyway.  It’s his nature;  you don’t have to worry about that, especially as he gets a few months older.  When he comes outside and smells all the other dogs’ markings, he’ll want to cover them with his own.  The only thing your pup needs to be trained for is not to do it wherever he feels like it inside the house. That’s what the wee-wee pad is for.  It controls where he does it when he has to indoors.

The puppy-owner may object, “I don’t want it smelling up the house.”

So Ted explains how to avoid that. “First of all, your bathroom is a good place to set down the wee-wee pad.  When your dog uses it, pick it up right away (or Used pad sealed in Ziploc bag for disposal.first thing in the morning), and fold it into a quart-size Ziploc®  freezer bag, and toss the thing sealed like that into the garbage.  No chance to smell.  Or, if you want to save money by not disposing of the pad so often, you can spray the soiled spot on it with a pet-odor remover spray (but not until your dog is well-trained to use the pad).  Once your dog is accustomed to his “walks” outside he won’t be using the pad that much anyway.  Tobi here uses the wee-wee pad once or twice during the night, but almost never during the day, because I walk him four times a day.”

When the puppy-owner remains unconvinced, Ted gets a little more graphic.

“We people all know the discomfort we feel when we need a bathroom and have to wait for one. That’s what you’re planning to do to your dog every day of his life.  And for a dog it’s not just physical pain, but mental and emotional anguish, trying not to be disgraced by what he’s been trained to think is 'very bad.'

“That’s why wee-wee pads shouldn’t just be for training. Once your dog learns to use the pad, he should have it available his whole life, to be there for him whenever there’s a problem getting him outside on time.  What happens when you have to work late and you’re there thinking of your dog, ‘Will he be able to hold it?’ Or you’re having dinner with friends and would like to stay longer, but you have to leave to walk your dog?   If he were a wee-wee pad-trained dog, you wouldn’t have to give it a second thought.”

Ted offers other reasons to think about, too. “What about when your dog gets diarrhea?  You’ll be cleaning it up all over the house.  But if he’s wee-wee pad-trained, you’ll simply fold up the pad as often as he soils it, seal it in a freezer bag, and deposit it into the garbage.

“The same is true when your dog gets old. Just as can happen to elderly people, old dogs often become incontinent.  You can resort to doggy diapers, but what do you do when your dog is begging you all hours of the day and night to take him out, despite the diaper—because that’s what you’ve trained him to do?   Compare that to an old, incontinent wee-wee pad dog who just walks over to the wee-wee pad whenever he needs it, and you can sleep through the night in peace.

How many puppy-owners are convinced? Quite a few, maybe, if they think about it.  The alternative is the time-honored custom of “training” a puppy to “go outside,” which involves the time it takes for his bladder to enlarge, lots and lots of extra “walking,” and discomfort forever.

© Copyright 2015 Woodwrit, Inc.

Doggy Bathroom 101: Housetraining

It has been many years since I learned apartment living; but I'm posting this now as a HOW TO article.

Ted has always bragged that I housetrained in one day. When he brought me home for the first time he had “puppy-proofed” his apartment.  All the scatter rugs were removed, leaving bare the wooden floors in the living room and hall and the tile floors in the kitchen and bathroom, so that if I had an accident he'd be able to see it.  The bedroom and study had wall-to-wall permanent carpeting, so he locked me out of those two rooms by extending window screens across the doorways—which he easily could step over, but I couldn't.

Four Paws Wee Wee Pads
Four Paws Wee Wee Pads

Ted had purchased brand-name Wee Wee Pads® from Petco, because they are “treated to attract puppies when nature calls.”[1]   One was spread in a corner of the bathroom where he decided it would work best, out of the way and easiest to clean up on a tile floor if I missed.  He set me on the pad first thing to acquaint me with it; but later when I felt the urge to piddle I was standing at the entrance to the kitchen, so that’s where I did it.  Ted cleaned it up with paper towels and a spray named Nature’s Miracle® Stain & Odor Remover, also purchased at Petco; and then he placed a second Wee Wee Pad right where I had done it.

I kept going back to the pad at the kitchen entrance for my business. Every time Ted saw me do it, he praised me, “Good boy, good boy, did pee-pee [or poop-ee] on the paper, good boy!”  Ted took me outside, too, but it so terrified me that I didn’t do anything there at first.  I used the kitchen pad exclusively over the following days, and received lots of praise for doing so.  I couldn’t understand the words at first, but I could tell from the tone and enthusiasm of Ted's voice that I was pleasing him.  Then Ted slowly moved that pad into the hall, then down the hall towards the bathroom; and I followed it.  The kitchen pad ended up right next to the bathroom pad.  Once I was going where Ted wanted me, he left only one pad in the bathroom.

If I missed and piddled in the living room, Ted didn’t scare me. He just said “Bad boy, bad boy” with a scowl, then picked me up and set me gently on the bathroom pad and repeated, “Do pee-pee, do pee-pee here.”  Nor did he get angry the times I went to the pad, placed my front feet on it, but piddled over the edge because my back feet weren’t on it.  Ted cleaned it up, and then repositioned the pad between the wall and a fixture so that there was little room off the edge and I had to plant all four feet on the pad to get onto it.  Ted always adjusted things so I'd get used to doing what I was supposed to do.

Ted was patient. He never lost his temper or scared me when I had an accident, of which there were few because I was drawn by something I could smell in the pad.  In a few weeks I was doing so well that Ted introduced an old carpet onto the living room floor, then watched the experiment carefully.  By that time I didn’t try to piddle on it, but it did look like it might be good for chewing.  When I tried, Ted sprayed the edges with a product called Bitter Apple®, and that ended that.  In a couple of months when Ted was sure I was thoroughly trained, he put his good carpets back down in the living room and hallway, and he removed the barriers to the bedroom and study.  I’m glad he did, because my little cat house is tucked into the bottom of a bookcase in the bedroom now, and I keep all my toys in the study where I can’t lose them under furniture.

Ted works at home, so he can take me outside four times a day. That’s where I much prefer to do my business.  I learned the commands, “Do pee-pee” and “Do poop-ee,” both for the pad and outdoors.   I almost never need the wee-wee pad during the day, and usually use it only once or twice during the night.  Ted always disposes of it and puts down a new one first thing.  I’m a smart dog, and so lucky, because I can do bathroom when I need to do it.

© Copyright 2015 Woodwrit, Inc. [1] Four Paws:  At Petco:  At Amazon:  

The Tobi Little Deer Diet

Enjoying dinner
Enjoying dinner
When Ted sees a commercial touting how much beef or chicken this or that dog food contains, he says, “I don’t buy dog food and hope for chicken.  If I want my dog to eat chicken, I feed him chicken.”  Ted knows every ingredient I am eating because he’s the one who prepares my food for me. The basis of my morning breakfast and evening dinner is chicken.  Ted buys it in cans, already cooked, at Costco.  He opens a can, pours the contents into a colander (that’s a bowl with holes), and runs cold water over it to rinse it well.  Then, putting my dish onto a kitchen scale, he weighs an ounce of the chicken into it.  The balance is stored in a glass container in the refrigerator.  Each time Ted takes an ounce from it for me, he weighs the amount into my ceramic food dish, then warms it in the microwave for eight seconds.  Afterwards he touches his finger to whatever he warms for me to make sure it is the right temperature. When Ted is asked, “You cook for your dog?” he answers, “Well, not exactly; I microwave.” The amount of food Ted gives me each day is based on my body weight of nine pounds, and the fact I get a lot of exercise.  Ted says to me, “You like to eat, you’ve got to run.”  We jog before breakfast for forty-five minutes every morning.  So I’m muscular, but I don’t get fat. My breakfast comes in two courses.  The first is the ounce of chicken, with my dog-multi-vitamin sprinkled onto it.  Meanwhile Ted is cooking a mixture of oat meal/oat bran (50% of each) for both of us, and my second course is an ounce of that mixed into two ounces of warm milk.  (The hot oatmeal usually warms the milk sufficiently.  However, if needed, Ted puts the oatmeal and milk into the microwave for five seconds.  Before giving it to me, he always tests the temperature with his finger-tip.) At lunch-time Ted puts a small dab (a flat teaspoon) of plain non-fat yogurt into my dish—I prefer Greek yogurt—along with a tablespoon of whatever no-added-salt soup he is having.  It’s not a meal, but just a tide-me-over.
IMG_3723 Evening dinner s-e-br
Chicken, salmon, 3 vegetables, a bit of olive oil
In the evening we have dinner.  I get another ounce of chicken, with a half-ounce of cooked pink wild-Alaska salmon added to it.  Ted buys the salmon already cooked in cans, and cleans it well, removing the skin and larger bones.  (Note: Dogs should never be given raw salmon because of a bacterium in it harmful to them, but cooked salmon is fine.)  Then Ted adds to the chicken and salmon three-quarters ounce combined of three vegetables he is having.  Typical ones are sweet potato, carrots, and broccoli, cut up into chunks and microwaved in a bit of water that is poured off afterwards.  No spices or sauces, just the unadulterated tastes of the vegetables themselves.  I get a chunk of each, and I particularly like the broccoli.  If Ted is having corn on the cob, he cuts off a few kernels for me.  Ted breaks up with a spoon this mixture of chicken, salmon and vegetables.  Usually the heat of the vegetables warms the whole mix, but after the finger-tip test, if Ted feels it is not warm enough, he puts my ceramic dish with its contents into the microwave for five seconds. After he warms it, he mixes into it a teaspoon of virgin olive oil (which makes my fur lustrous).  That’s my dinner.  I “wolf it down” and lick my dish clean. Then I wait for Ted to finish his own dinner, because that’s when he takes out the vanilla ice cream.  He says he buys it for me, but he always enjoys some, too.  When I see him open the freezer I whine in anticipation and spin in circles I’m so happy.  He gives me a level teaspoon of vanilla ice cream each evening into my dish for dessert.  It’s cold, but I “wolf” it, too. That’s the Tobi Little Deer diet.  No ingredients regulated unfit for human consumption; no fads.  Just chicken for chicken, salmon for salmon, whole grains and fresh vegetables—followed by a dab of vanilla ice cream.  With that nutrition, combined with lots of exercise, particularly our morning jog, I am a very healthy dog with lots of stamina. © 2014 Woodwrit, Inc.  

Dog boots: cute, troublesome, a necessity.

IMG_3114 Tobi in red boots s-br
My red boots from Petco.
IMG_3115 Tobi in red boots kick s-br
Oops! The camera caught my kick.
Boots are something to which I’ve grown accustomed, so I don’t make a fuss anymore.  New York City has had a rough winter, very cold with frequent snow, which means lots of salt, so I’ve gotten plenty of practice with boots. Salt hurts a dog’s feet, one way or another.  Bootless dogs do the dance; they stop, lift a foot out of the slush, put that one down and lift another.  It burns.  If it isn’t washed off afterwards, it dries out their paws and can make them crack.  They ingest it when they try to lick it off, and that’s bad, too.  Nevertheless, you see lots of dogs walking in the salt without boots.  That’s because boots can be hard to get on, and too easy to kick off.  What to do? When they get back into the house, dogs who’ve walked in salt without boots need to stand in a few inches of water in a pan or bathtub to wash it off.  It requires soaping and then a good rinse.  That’s why boots may seem troublesome at first, but they save a lot of trouble.  I got used to them.  Your dog will, too, with time and patience. Persevere.  If you’re afraid your dog will bite you when you’re putting them on, then you need to work on your relationship with him.  It’s all about trust.  We dogs react when we don’t know what’s happening; we’re alarmed by new situations.  However, we’re ok once we get used to something—we’re “creatures of habit.”  So the solution to boots, or tooth-brushing or nail-clipping, all the things we resist, is to gently persevere until we grow accustomed to them.  Don’t scold or get angry; don’t hurt your dog with either the procedure or a punishment.  Stay calm and your dog will grow calm, too.  Our person has to have patience, during every repetition, until we are comfortable.  I’ll tell you more about tooth-brushing and nail-clipping another time.  Right now, it’s all about boots. I have two types of boots.  The ones I use most often look like little balloons, and can be purchased in most pet stores.  They are a common sight on dogs everywhere now.  The brand name is Pawz, and they are color-coded by size.  I wear yellow.  They are “disposable”—what isn’t?—and three sets come in a package—that’s twelve boots.  If they’re the right size, Pawz boots are pretty impossible to kick off.  They’re weightless, so they’re easy to get used  to.  The problem is that they’re difficult  to get on.  Ted says, “You need two hands to stretch the neck of the boot open, and a third hand to put the dog’s paw through it.”  Some people buy a size up to make putting them on easier.  It  helps, but then they’re bulkier to walk in and could more easily slip off.  Ted’s solution was to buy a key ring large enough to fit over my paw.  He stretches the neck of the boot around the key ring.  Then with one hand he holds the boot, its neck held open by the key ring, and with the other hand he inserts my paw through the key ring into the boot, gently pressing my claws together to narrow my paw through the opening.  Once the boot is on, he slips the key ring out of the neck of the boot and off my paw.  It works pretty well.
IMG_3582 Pawz boot and keyring s-br
Pawz boot and key ring
IMG_3581 Pawz boot with keyring in neck s-br
Pawz boot with key ring holding neck open
Casual sweater look, with Pawz boots for salt residue
Here I am in my Pawz boots

One of the side-effects of Pawz boots being light-weight is that they pierce easily.  The grit on the street soon makes little holes, even microscopic ones, that render them useless in the salty water and slush.  So Ted has to switch me to new boots pretty frequently, but he saves the old ones for when the sidewalks are dry.

The sidewalks don’t get cleaned much in New York City in the winter, except if it rains upon them.  So most of the time between snowstorms and between melting, when the sidewalks are dry, they are still covered with dirty-brown dried salt dust.  It doesn’t hurt to walk on it bootless, but it makes a mess of a dog’s feet, and if it’s not bathed off, gets licked off, which is all bad.  So I wear Pawz boots even when the sidewalks are dry in the winter.  However, that’s when we can use the older ones that have acquired microscopic holes.  Liquid could penetrate them, but dry dust doesn’t; so they keep my feet clean.  Recycling the old boots that way saves a little money. Right after a snowstorm, when there soon can be an inch or more of salty slush on the sidewalk (before the supers get their shoveling done), Ted finds that heavier boots are more effective for me.   My red ones are real boots, from Petco, Pup Crew Fall 12 X-Small Shoes ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­.  They look like miniatures of what people wear, and passers-by think they are very cute (or amusing) when they see four little boots clicking in sync down the street.  They are made of faux red chamois with a white fluffy trim  and have hard, contoured black soles, as if they belong with a Santa outfit.  A white zipper up the front secures an interior elastic around my ankles, so they don’t kick off so easily.   I know, because at first I tried (pictured above). When I wear my red boots, Ted walks behind me so he can make sure I don’t lose one along the way.  When we encounter another dog, he picks me up to prevent my jump and growl which would send one or more boots flying.  We never take long walks in them.  In front of our building, so I won’t lose a boot running up the front steps, Ted picks me up again and carries me inside. On the weather mat inside our apartment front door, Ted removes the boots, the balloon-type Pawz boots by rolling them off my foot down from the top, or the red boots by simply unzipping them, and my feet are dry.  That’s the best part. © 2014 Woodwrit, Inc.      

You want to know why I’m a little tough-nut?

Indian Hunter in Central Park
Indian Hunter in Central Park
I am Tobi Little Deer, a Native American dog, a Chihuahua, and like all dogs descended from ancient wolves who made a pact with people hundreds of thousands of years ago.  We became companion hunters and guardians.  Down through the millennia, with our capacity for patient, faithful love, we also became pets.  As such, although pet dogs are likened sometimes to children, the wolf pack is still within all of us.  Make no mistake, we love because we have the capacity to love; we serve because our species knows cooperation as means of survival.  Both are deep-rooted human qualities also, and that is why over the ages we could become fellow travelers. In our recent past people have been breeding us smaller and smaller to turn us into animated toys, even photographing the tiniest of us in tea cups.  “Fanciers” like to make rules, and some set a six-pound limit for Chihuahuas.  However, we are still dogs, no matter how much they miniaturize us.  At eight pounds, I can exercise my dog prerogatives quite well, and I have a big personality.  I run distances.  I am an effective guardian.  People do not anticipate that of Chihuahuas.  They look at us, find us cute, and expect us to behave adorably.  Most of us have the self-image of feisty, miniature Dobermans, however.  People are surprised that I don’t welcome a stranger’s hand in my face. Chihuahuas are fiercely loyal.  People say we are “one-man dogs.”  Of course, we like the friends of our one-man or one-woman, too, given time to get to know them.  We are protectors first and foremost.  We are kept as pets, and we may look like toys, but there is nothing toy-like in our demeanor—at least that of most Chihuahuas.  We  carry deep within us the hierarchy and loyalty of the pack, and a long history of guardianship. Well, there’s more to it, too.  Some of my attitude is just fun.  Walking down the street with Ted, if I see a delivery boy chaining his bicycle with his back to us, I love suddenly to bark loudly as we pass close by him and make him jump.  I’m on the watch for anyone who doesn’t keep walking.  As for other dogs, well, I like to meet the little ones, particularly other Chihuahuas.  Chihuahuas know Chihuahuas; we know our own.  Bigger dogs are another story; it’s my street.  I like to dart against my leash and bark at them and get them all excited; I know that they’re on leash, too, and so can’t reach me.  Ted says to me, “Behave, behave.”  Sometimes he says to me, “You’re going to start something, tough-nut, that you can’t finish.”  Then I strut down the street with my head high and my tail straight up, quite proud of myself.  It’s all great fun. © 2013 Woodwrit, Inc.