Owning Up … Again

A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying… that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. ~Alexander Pope, English poet

Sully, working on carrying a stick and leash-training

I’m not sure where I got the idea I was supposed to use Puppy Pee Pads to house train a dog, but I’m here to tell you … DON’T!

When I brought Dallas home many moons ago, he was practically house trained. No Pee Pads were necessary, and accidents were few. Right from the get-go, he understood “outside” was the potty place.

Not so with Sully.

His breeder hadn’t bothered with house training, so I opted to use Pee Pads left over from Dallas’s time.

I put them in his ex-pen and beside three doors.

They were a nuisance — poor absorbency, poor feel compared to the newspapers he’d gotten used to from the whelping box, and he refused to use a soiled one … even if it only had a teaspoonful of liquid on one corner.

At first, I thought it would be easy to train him to the pad — convenient in inclement weather, too — and then transition him to outside when the temperature warmed a bit.

Sully quickly learned that pottying on a pad brought a treat while going on the floor resulted in an angry “No!”

But the transition to outside puzzled him.

And why shouldn’t it? Learning it’s okay to pee inside on a pad, then having to relearn that it’s better to go outside in the grass could only confuse a wee pup.

Then my son Domer came home for a week-long visit, and all bets were off. Sully turned into a real brat, pottying anywhere and everywhere. And I was spending so much time on my hands and knees cleaning his messes that I felt I was ignoring Domer.

I called Sully’s vet to ask about him peeing so much. I was instructed to stop giving him unlimited water.


A few days later, when he peed a tablespoonful at one end of the kitchen and, while I was cleaning it up, another tablespoonful at the other end, I hit the roof.

What was going on? Was I the village idiot for not being able to house train a dog?

This time, the vet wanted a urine sample. And this time, they told me the poor pup had a bladder infection.

Well, no wonder.

Here I was, fussing at him for his failure to follow the potty training regimen when he was sick and couldn’t help it.

I beat myself up over it, then got him started on antibiotics.

Finally, we’re seeing some progress.

But it’s been a LONG haul.

At least I’m learning he’s got a brain in that cute, fuzzy head of his!

33 thoughts on “Owning Up … Again

    • I sure hope so! Now that the weather’s getting better, now that he’s finished his antibiotic, we should start seeing real progress … fingers crossed. Thanks again for your support, Dawn!

    • I never heard of a puppy getting a bladder infection. Old dogs? Sure, but not babies. But at least he didn’t seem to be in any pain. Thanks for empathizing, Virginia!

  1. It’s so much harder to train them to pee outside if they don’t learn it very young, and now that we’re encouraged to keep them mostly inside till they’re vaccinated that makes it even harder. But you’ll get there! And one day you’ll look back on all this and laugh… maybe… 😉

    • If I’d had my preference, I’d have taught him to use the toilet, ha! So much easier than picking up messes from the floor. Maybe he’d use a cat’s litter box?? Nah, I doubt it.

  2. The joys of puppyhood. That tablespoon was the tipoff for sure. We only used pee pee pads for the short term and at night. Of course, we wanted to make sure our puppy was fully protected against Parvo before going to the outside. Best wishes. He looks cute.

    • Thank you, Frank. I’ve missed everybody like crazy and will catch up as quickly as I can. I hope you’re right and we can tackle this hurdle quickly.

  3. “At least I’m learning he’s got a brain in that cute, fuzzy head of his!”

    Debbie, he sure does have a cute, fuzzy head. Sully is ADORABLE!

    I am so glad to read that you finally figured out what the problem was and are seeing progress. Poor little thing had a bladder infection.

    And speaking of Puppy Pee Pads, you’re right DON’T! My mother found that out when she adopted her second Pomeranian. They didn’t work for her either.

    I was so happy to see your blog post this morning. You’ve been very missed! Hope you enjoyed your break.

    Have a great Sunday, my friend. And Happy Spring! X

    • Ron, thank you for confirming your mom’s experience with the puppy pee pads. I had high hopes they’d be a workable option — especially since we have lots of cold, wet weather here for so many months of the year — but they only served to confuse Sully. He kept looking at me like he was thinking, “What? Just where DO you want me to do my business, woman??”

      It’s nice to hear I’ve been missed. I missed ALL of my blogging buddies, too, and will do my best to play catch-up. I might not comment on any but the last posts everyone has written, but I’ll still read the others (and enjoy them!)

      Yay, Spring is coming! I can hardly wait to introduce Sully to this pretty time of year. I hope you’re having a lovely weekend, with a great week ahead! xx

  4. Bladder infections in a male dog are rare, so I can understand why your vet wouldn’t go to that first, and you would have no way of knowing. Puppies pee a lot! The breeder might have been able to do more. It’s possible to potty train a puppy from the get-goBUT snow and cold make it much harder. Keep reminding yourself that puppies are cute for a reason. Shelties are smart so I bet you move forward fast.
    As for your boy….a bit of competition never hurts, and haven’t you always secretly liked your pups best???? 😀 After all, they will never move away! LOL.
    Spring has sprung and everything will soon be easier.

    • Thank you, Kb, for pointing that out. Since he didn’t seem to have any of the other typical symptoms, I didn’t consider it either. Yes, the breeder *should* have done more; perhaps she was overwhelmed having two litters at one time. And you’re right — weather does make it harder. Here’s to Spring arriving FAST!!

  5. Aw, don’t beat yourself over it, Debbie. We ALL make mistakes and it is not easy to know what one of our beloved Angels is not feeling good. Some advice these Vets are giving out make zero sense. IMO. Stop with the water? Never I would say! Glad for you that things are working out and you are less frazzled. It takes a big person to admit what you did here. I say good for you for begin so honest!! High-5 on that!! Much love to you!! xo

    • Oh, Amy, I’m still frazzled, ha!! This puppy has an over-abundance of energy and that, coupled with his peeing all over the place ALL the time, makes training him a huge challenge. We will get there. I keep reminding myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and puppy potty training is an ongoing project … until one day, you wake up and realize it’s done and he’s perfect. Well, we can hope, right?!?

      • I take my hat off to you!! Lots of patience. You have got this, Debbie!! When you get frazzled, pup feels that. I know from my own life ….. when crises or difficult situations arise I have to be the calm in the storm. Deep breaths help!!! xo

        • Shelties are very sensitive and always watching. Yes, I know he picks up on my moods, so it’s imperative I be the calm. I’m making a mental note to breathe fully before allowing myself any chance to explode!

  6. Thank goodness you found the answer to the problem — you have my sympathy. My sister had a similar problem with her cat and curing the bladder infection finally cured the problem. There was no blood in kitty’s urnine so a bladder infection never crossed my sister’s mind as a possibility. Fortunately puppies and dogs are very forgiving creatures so I’m sure you and Sully will be back on the road to happiness soon!

    • Thanks for sharing the info about your sister and her kitty. Sully didn’t exhibit the traditional symptoms either, so it was a puzzle for sure. And thanks for reminding me that dogs are so forgiving — we both need an infusion of patience, I’m afraid, ha!

  7. This is a peek into a very, VERY different world. Never having had a dog, much of this is new to me. I’d never considered the complexities of house training, for example. With Dixie Rose, I just filled up the box with litter, and that was that. She never went outside the box until she was in her last year of life. When I realized she was having trouble getting into the high-sided box, I substituted one with lower sides, and the problem was fixed. May your ‘fixes’ get just as easy!

    • I wish it were that easy with a puppy, Linda! Perhaps that’s why cats are such popular pets — their ease of house training. It feels like everything is stacked against us right now: Sully’s bladder infection, his raisin-sized bladder, and his propensity to squat at what seems like random. Oh well, I suppose we’ll get it eventually!

  8. Potty training a puppy is a long process, and no two puppies are exactly the same. Please don’t beat yourself up, you did your best. And you were wise to bring the vet into it when he was peeing such small amounts, although sometimes puppies do that, too! I was twelve when I got my first dog, who was still a puppy at the time. Following all the advice, I worked hard to train her to use the newspapers. And she learned to do that….but like your Sully, she had a VERY hard time realizing that we’d much rather she did her business outside! She eventually learned it, but for the rest of her long life, we could never leave any newspaper on the floor, because she promptly made use of it!

    • Oh Ann, the story of your first puppy has given me cause to pause. I hope I haven’t inadvertently done this to poor Sully! He readily learned to go on newspapers, or even on the floor, but he seems to think the outdoors is an off-limits zone. Shelties are smart by breed, so I imagine he’ll get it, but mercy, I’m getting tired of getting on my hands and knees for clean-up duty, ha!

    • Oh boy, you, too, huh? I feel like the neighbors are sitting in their homes and counting how many times I urge Sully to “go”! Yes, I know it will be worthwhile (one day), but tis taking way longer than I’d hoped. Thanks for the encouragement!

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