A Habit We Should Have Broken

When Shay was a wee one and we adopted her into our family we wanted to train her right. Carter and I took her to Pet Behavior Classes and we learned to “treat her” to train her. This involved carrying around a small baggies of “treats” like small bits of turkey or cheese. We could get Shay to walk right beside us and not pull on her leash as long as we were giving her a treat every once in a while.

The big thing I was concerned with was potty training her to go outside. The last thing I needed was a dog who went inside the house. So we used the “treat” method. Every time she went potty outside we would bring her inside and she would stand or sit on her green bed and get a treat.

Shay, being a brilliant dog, learned quickly that the whole outside was her toilet and never had an accident inside, so she got used to having her treat. Even after she was certified in potty training she continued to get the treat. We just kept giving it to her.

Today she goes outside and she runs in and flys onto her bed and stands at attention awaiting her small freeze dried liver cube. Yes, she considers that her favorite treat. It has been eight years and we still treat her.

I know we should have given this up as soon as she was trained, but none of us could deny those eyes that liver. Now in her defense, she never asks to go outside just to turn around and come back in and get a treat. She always uses the potty and then comes in. I hate to stop treating her now and have her give up going outside, not that I think that would happen. I just don’t want to be the mean one and stop giving it to her.

Here is my justification. Shay has weighed exactly, almost to the ounce, the same weight for the last seven years. I think the treats are not hurting her so as long as she is good I am going to keep giving them to her.

I promise I will do better on future dogs. I also add this caveat, that I may not remember this promise when I get a future dog.

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