*Chewy.com graciously sent me a complimentary Iris dog pen to help us while we correct undesirable behaviors in our dogs. Thanks Chewy.com for helping my dogs become even better good boys!*
A few weeks ago I mentioned that we had hired a dog behaviorist to come out and help us with our boys. After our phone consultation he offered a few tips for us like scheduling designated meal times then removing their food bowls after 15 minutes and removing their toy basket so they can’t access toys on demand. I saw benefits from those changes almost immediately but also almost immediately encountered a new obstacle I hadn’t expected. My dogs started to mark around the apartment! At 6-years and 3-years I thought my dogs were well past the marking stage but apparently I was wrong. Oh well, no one said dogs were easy.
As part of the Chewy.com blogger program they usually send a new set of treats or cookies for my dogs to enjoy each month but this month when I reviewed their catalog of items I asked them to send me the Nature’s Miracle Stain & Odor Remover spray instead of cookies. Frankly, I didn’t feel like my dogs deserved new treats and I needed to spot clean a few places again.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – my dogs can be jerks.
This month Chewy.com also sent me a complimentary indoor dog pen (the Iris Pen) to help with their *ahem* behavior modifications. I’ve only had the pen for a few days and I’m already seeing huge benefits. For example: I can isolate them as punishment for bad behavior without having to put them in their sleeping crate or put them in another room where I can visually see them. Plus, despite the sad faces in the pictures I know they love it.
It only took me about 10 minutes to put it together and 9 minutes of that was screwing the hinges and lock on to the door. I put a shower liner down first (in case they thought about being wise guys and “marking” around the area) and placed the dog pen on top of it to hold the edges down. Then, I put a big fluffy blanket down over the liner, added an extra-long pillow, a couple of small dog blankets, a water bowl, and tossed in a few toys.
If I’m being honest, I’m kind of jealous of the space. Do you have any idea what I would give for my own space complete with a blanket, a good book, and a hot cup of coffee? A place I could go to just decompress and lounge around all the things I love? Those dogs have no idea how good they have it!
It’s a pretty wonderful new addition and I joked with my husband that I can now see why parents always say that having children means your home suddenly becomes nothing buy children’s toys. This new pen now means that I have 2 crates, an indoor dog pen, two dog beds, two food bowls, one water bowl, and tons of dog toys all over my home. Granted, things are in different rooms but good Lord, it definitely feels like they have more stuff in this place than I do.
Like I said, we’re already seeing benefits of the indoor dog pen.
Breaking the Begging Habit
Ever since we’ve had the indoor dog pen I’ve started to pen the dogs before I start cooking or before we sit down to eat. They have never really been dogs to sit and beg for food because we’ve never given them anything except for dog food and treats. The mistake I made was keeping their treats in the kitchen so now they have learned to associate me going in to the kitchen with the possibility of them getting treats. Oops!
So now I put them in the pen so they can run around, play, or nap while I’m cooking and while we eat. When we have finished and cleaned up we let them out of the pen and feed them. It’s helped reinforce that they are not to be around while we are cooking or eating and it reinforces that we are dominate since the “dominant dog” eats first.
Isolation as Punishment
The best way to reprimand a dog for undesirable behavior is to isolate him from the rest of the pack (my husband, myself, and the other dog). The thing about this is that you aren’t supposed to use their sleeping crate for punishment. You don’t want to yell or hit, but rather just separate and ignore. Since we didn’t want to use their sleeping crate before it was tough because we would just have to ignore them. They would jump on sofa and nudge at our hands or sit in front of us looking up and whining, it was tough not to look at them!
Now, if I have to correct negative behavior I just put the offending dog in the pen for a few minutes. He’s in the same room but he’s not able to interact. He has his own items so it’s not cruel, it’s just separated.
My dogs love attention and they can be quite demanding when they want someone to acknowledge them. This has been especially annoying when we have company. I hate being in a situation where I am either constantly correcting the dogs behavior, asking my guests to “just push him down” or having to crate the dogs if someone is visiting. With the pen I simply put the dogs in the pen before I open the front door. The dogs are still in the main area around everyone but they can’t interact directly with my company. Often, I’ll ask visitors to greet the dogs so they can sniff their hands and become familiar with them.
Preventing the Marking
Most pens are a bit too big for real crate training because the dog can mark in one corner and just hang out / eat / sleep on the other side. That’s why I put the shower liner down first and why I filled it with a pillow, blankets, and toys. Now, if they mark they mark on something that is theirs and dogs won’t usually do that. If either of us is home alone and have to leave the apartment for a few minutes (take out the trash, check the mail, etc) we put the dogs in the pen.
This used to be the time that they would mark. We’d leave them completely home alone for 2 minutes and they’d start acting like gremlins. We haven’t had a single incident since we started using the indoor dog pen and they don’t have to be crated.