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My Kolchak is a pretty good dog.
He walks nice on a leash, he plays really well with other dogs and he’s a pretty darn sweet boy, if I do say so myself. He knows some tricks, I can trust him off leash and he hasn’t chewed up anything made of antique wood or Italian leather in years.
He can also be a real challenge.
I can’t believe that almost a full year ago, I wrote about how he likes to wake me up by mauling me like a jaguar cub. I’m embarrassed to admit that nothing has changed. Kolchak still wakes me up early every weekend, rocking me like a hurricane and begging for his breakfast.
+R Training has totally failed me here.
I know the theory. Ignore the behaviors you don’t want. Reward the ones you do. The only problem? It is impossible to ignore a 24 lb puggle trying to dig a hole to China through your spine unless you want to spend the rest of your life with a spastic back. We’ve tried a lot of different things this year and while it’s improved a whole lot (he no longer jumps on my solar plexus. Jackpot!), nothing has really “worked”.
I accept and acknowledge the fact that I created my own monster here.
“Look how much Koly loves his new raw food! He’s so excited! It’s adorable!!” the Daddy actually compares Kol’s level as excitement to a kid on Christmas morning – if it was Christmas every. single. day. It was absolutely adorable…you know, until it wasn’t anymore.
I knew it was time to address this issue, once and for all. It was time to train my dog to sleep in.
Plus, Pamela at Something Wagging challenged us to strengthen our bond with our dogs and learn some new skills in her Train Your Dog Month challenge. We love the challenge and it always helps bring me and the dogs closer. I couldn’t wait to get started.
Here’s the game plan:
- Split his meals into breakfast, dinner and an evening snack. It is a really long break between dinner and breakfast. We’ll try to minimize that empty belly feeling by making sure he gets a snack to tide him over.
- Black out curtains. They make curtains from a special material to make sure your room stays dark, even when the sun comes up. We’re getting some. I don’t need the sun all up in our business when we’re trying to sleep in. Mr. Sun, you are NOT helping. (And no Daddy, this is NOT just an excuse for me to redecorate the bedroom. Unless you’re on board, in which case, let’s go shopping!)
- Vary our routine. The Daddy and I are creatures of habit. We do things the same things, the same way, at the same time and Kolchak has clearly noticed this. We’ll be wildly varying our schedule so Kol doesn’t have any “triggers” that it’s dinner/breakfast time, except the one we’ll intentionally create.
- Wait for the Bell. We’ve downloaded a special bell on our phones and we’ll be setting timers to go off on our schedule. The dogs only get fed when the bell goes off. No exceptions. We’ve got to be strong here. I’m looking at you, Nana.
- Resetting his biological clock. Aside from being a marker to signal when he is getting fed, we’ll also be using the bell to help reset his biological clock. His body is in the habit of waking at a specific time. Habits are hard to break, so we’ll slowly nudge him towards change. We’ll start by setting the alarm for 10 – 15 minutes BEFORE the time he usually wakes me up by trying to kill me. Every few days we’ll set the alarm a bit later, gradually working towards our desired wake up time. Hopefully, he’ll learn learn that the bell will wake him for breakfast and he’ll sleep until he hears it.
- Teach him a better way. He asks for his breakfast using torture tools because we taught him that it works. If we can teach him to act like a jerk, we can also teach him a better way. We’re going to work on putting a command to snuggling into bed. Armed with a night stand full of homemade chicken chip dog treats, we’ll be taking every opportunity we can to cuddle in the hopes that if he does wake up before the bell, we can lure him back to the bed with a command he know and the promise of chicken. A word to the wary: We do NOT want him to associate his wretched behavior with getting chicken treats though, so we’ll be mastering this command in the off hours and we won’t try it in the wee smas of the morning until it’s solid every other time of day.)
Woof! We have a lot of work ahead of us.
Have you ever had this problem at your house? Are you doing something special for the Train You Dog Month Challenge?
We’d love to hear about it!