Jasper The Pup

Jasper The Potty Master

Here's a charming story send in by our reader Gabriel about his pup Jasper, who after some trials and tribulations is now a potty master.

Ah, the joys of housetraining a dog, sometimes it's plain sailing ahead, and sometimes it's just a royal pain in the you know where.

Still, with persistence there's no dog that's not house-trainable, although the path can seem long and arduous at times.

Gabriel, our reader sent in one such story, where potty training his pup Jasper was proving to be a little more difficult than anticipated. Read about Jasper's antics and how Gabriel got along (demonstrating the proof in persistence) below.

Gabriel also sent in the photo above of Jasper, all grow up now and a real potty master.

Play with your pup from anywhere.

There’s nothing quite like owning a dog. The loyalty, the unconditional love, the way in which they make you feel like you’re the most important person in the world; the downsides are few and far between. That, however, shouldn’t imply that they don’t exist, or that they aren’t a massive pain in the butt.

When I got my puppy Jasper I was over the moon. He’s the kind of little dog that you’d be forgiven for thinking was genetically engineered in a laboratory to be the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. Fluffy, white, minuscule and with a tendency to make weird noises somewhere between a duck’s honk and a baby’s cry, I was in love with him almost instantaneously and taking him home for the first time I couldn’t wipe that grin off my face.

At work that night I itched to get back to him. My commute home was spent flicking through photos of him on my phone with what I can only assume were the kind of doe eyes that make people think you’re looking at a newborn baby. I literally ran the last few feet up the driveway to see him sooner.

I was so excited when I went through the front door; calling his name even though he hadn’t learned it yet, I kicked off my shoes, hurried forwards and felt my foot land in something deeply unpleasant.

We’ve all stepped in dog poo at one time or another, but have you ever done it barefoot?

It sucks.

I don’t want to describe the sensation or the feeling of horror that shot through me as I looked up, wide eyed and gaping, to see my innocent little puppy gambolling towards me, a sight that mere moments earlier would have been the best thing in the world.

Well, I mean, it was still the best thing in the world, but I’d be lying if I said the foot/poo encounter didn’t somewhat temper my enthusiasm.

Of course, I had known that toilet training would be part of the whole having a dog deal, I just hadn’t realized I was going to become so intimately acquainted with the reason for the training so quickly. So, after scrubbing the floor, a lengthy shower and the use of half a bar of soap, I put Jasper outside and waited for him to do his business.

For his part, Jasper just sat there and watched me until I figured he had more or less done everything he had to do on my floorboards and so I brought him back inside, put him in his bed and after a little TV, went to sleep myself.

I woke up the next morning, swung out of bed and my foot hit the ground with a splash. I was not thrilled, but the initial horror had worn off and so, resigned, I cleaned up the mess and headed out to the living room where Jasper was waiting for his breakfast. Or at least, would have been were he not peeing on my floor again.

I grabbed him mid pee (getting sprayed in the process), yelled ‘NO’ while pointing at the puddle, then put him outside. For the second time in minutes I cleaned, this time accompanied by that duck/baby hybrid cry which seemed a lot less cute when it was relentlessly trying to get me to let him back inside, probably so that he could plan his next attack.

When I was a kid my Dad, who has never been an especially compassionate man, used to do the old ‘rub your nose in it’ trick when one of our dogs went to the bathroom inside, usually accompanied with enough bellowing to assure the dog in question that it was probably easier for all involved to just not try that same thing again.

Needless to say, I’m not quite that unequivocal; even if any reputable dog manual these days didn’t tell you not to do that under any circumstances, I just don’t think I have it in me to shove any animal’s face in its own waste, so training would be happening the long way. I just didn’t anticipate how long...

Toilet training a dog reminds me a lot of that old song One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.

Some mornings Jasper would head straight out the door and do his business, followed by disproportionately happy whooping and celebrating from yours truly. Then, an hour later, I would step in another puddle.

He also soon took to pooing in the exact same spot in my living room every day, even when I closed the door to that room I swear he found some magic way to get in there. I work late sometimes so getting home tired, ready to watch an episode of something dumb and enjoy a glass of wine was a ritual soon complicated by a bout of one handed cleaning, the other holding my nose.

I can say that I never wanted to reach a point where stepping in pee was a normal occurrence, but eventually I stopped reacting with annoyance and disgust; rather I just shrugged, sighed and put Jasper outside.

Cue cleaning and whining from the dog and the same dreary cycle would just repeat. Even allegedly effective methods like puppy training mats seemed to yield mixed results when it came to Jasper.

Some nights I’d celebrate several neatly soaked up yellow spots, others I’d collapse to my knees and wail in anguish at a puddle literally inches from the mat of the invitingly open door.

Some people (my Dad) squarely believe that dogs should live outside, but I love the companionship.

I have no problem with a dog sleeping at the foot of my bed or whatever but as the days went on and Jasper would seem to make progress only to prove me so terribly wrong, I had to start to consider that maybe I had no choice but to get him a kennel and make him permanently an outside dog.

Friends, after all, usually seemed to get the toilet training sorted pretty quickly, but there was no such luck for me.

Until, one morning, when I was at my table having breakfast, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, Jasper march outside, squat, and do his business before, looking pretty chuffed and proud of himself, coming to sit at my feet.

I sat there for a while, looking down at him, before laughing and giving him a treat. Children, after all, take a lot longer to figure out the appropriate places to relieve themselves, and it wasn’t like I had carpets or anything.

It took Jasper a couple more weeks to really work it out, but in the end he did. When all was said and done, the time it took was neither that long or really that bad. And in the grand scheme of things, to have that friend there with me, it was very, very worth it.

Patience and persistence was my key.

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