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Friday, July 19, 2013

To Poop or Not to Poop

Ah, poop. As a puppy raiser, this is a topic that I have talked a LOT about. I've had conversations about poop schedules, poop consistency, objects in poop, puppies eating poop...and more. And these aren't short conversations. I had one last up to an hour. It's fair to say that I talk about poop more than is entirely comfortable, but that's the job.

Why is talking about poop "the job"? Because pooping is a big part of puppy raising. So, if any of you out there have been thinking about puppy raising and just can't handle touching, smelling, freezing, or looking through poop...don't become a puppy raiser. Just don't do it. 

Pooping is a big part of puppy raising because we don't want the puppies pooping (or peeing for that matter) in stores or restaurants. Now, to some of you the fact that we don't want them to pee or poop whenever they want may seem a little cruel. Let me put into perspective a little. These puppies will go on to be Guide Dogs who are forms of transportation to their blind/visually impaired partner. Much like a car is to someone who drives, many people I know who have used a Guide Dog can't imagine travelling without one. We don't want the dogs pooping or peeing in harness while they are guiding for a multitude of reasons. You don't want to be late for work because you had to stop to clean up after you car. So, we don't want to make anyone late because they had to stop to clean up after their dog. I know the analogy isn't the best one, but you get the idea. 

A better one might be that we do the same with our children. At some point it just becomes unacceptable to go whenever they want and we make them wait until we can find an appropriate place (i.e. the bathroom) and the older they get the longer you expect them to hold it. 

This is why we teach the command "do you business" (and in the UK, "busy busy"). It is the dog's signal that it is ok to relieve themselves. Now, for me, there is a specific spot in the backyard that we always go to so that Dulcie can "do her business". We have a potty break right before we leave on and outing and right after we get back. I do not generally allow relieving on outings unless they are long. What constitutes long depends on the puppy's age. For Dulcie, if we are out for 1 hour or more (which we aren't often in this heat) I find an acceptable place for her to relieve, take off her jacket, and tell her to "do her business". 

I got a question about whether or not I could really regulate the puppy's pooping by when and how much we feed them. The answer is yes. Much like most humans, most dogs have a "relieving schedule" which can be thrown off by many things. If you feed them an hour later than normal then they may not poop until an hour later than normal or if you start feeding them more they may poop more at once or poop right after the meal and then a couple of hours later. 

Of course, not all puppies quite get this and "inappropriate relieving" is a droppable offence. Meaning that if the dog consistently relieves in harness then they will be career changed. Not only because we don't want this because it makes it hard to know when we can take them out in public but also because relieving too often can be a sign of stress (can be but is not always).

Finally, I will leave you with this thought. Always, ALWAYS pick up after your dog. Please do not be one of "those people" who lets their dog poop right in the middle of the sidewalk and then doesn't pick it up. You would not throw dirty diapers on the floor of your house would you? Same concept. If you can not be responsible enough to clean up after your dog, do not get a dog. Especially if you let them use other people's yards. It's the same as going into a stranger's house, pooping in their toilet, and then not flushing. Don't be "that" person. 

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