Monthly Archives: May 2012

Potty Training a Dog: High Rise-Style by Laura @ Tails

As I have mentioned before, I often get frustrated about the amount of time and effort I can spend on my dog. But what I often forget is the fact that I have it pretty easy by comparison. For example, I live in apartment, but I am on the ground floor and have a great yard right outside my door. This little article on Tails Website made me stop and think what a commitment a dog must be for those people who live in large urban areas.
by Laura

Living in a high-rise can present some unique challenges when it comes to potty training your puppy. My boyfriend and I live on the 40th floor of our building, and when we brought our dog Reggie home last August, I was not prepared for how above-ground-level living would affect the potty training process.

The problem is that potty training a dog requires lots of quick responses—the second you notice your furry little one popping a squat you should be scooping her up and bringing her directly outside. This immediate action loses some of its effectiveness when “directly outside” requires an elevator ride down 40 stories.

Thanks to a combination of her own smarts and our preparedness, Reggie ended up being a cinch to potty train. We got her when she was only two months old, and to date she’s had only about five accidents in the apartment (she’s 11 months old now).

The key to potty training in this scenario is planning ahead. You have to rely less on instant responses and more on routine. Read on for some tips on how to deal with this tricky (and potentially very messy) situation:

Timing is Everything

This is a rule for potty training no matter what kind of living situation you have, and it’s especially important when you live high up. Take your dog out every two hours, and after every meal. Teach her as soon as possible that going to the bathroom takes place on the grass, and on the grass only.


These pads can be found at Petsmart for $4.99-$39.99.

The best thing we did was purchase a couple of those fake grass potty pads for the balcony. Taking Reggie all the way downstairs and then over to the dog park was a 15-minute affair—that’s way more work than anyone wants to do at 4:00am. The fake grass reinforced our potty-on-grass-only rule, and the trays on the bottom made it so we didn’t constantly have to clean them. Better yet, having them always available made it so she could start going by herself the second she figured out how.

If you don’t have a balcony—and don’t want trays full of pee sitting in your living room—normal potty pads will do. Just make sure you always keep them in the same spot.

Make Going Outside as Fun as Possible

Reggie stopped going number two on her potty pads after a month or so—that’s because she learned that it was worth holding it in so that she could go outside and play. Reinforcing the idea that potty time and playtime go together is a great way to keep accidents from happening in the house.

Crate Training

Our little stubborn puppy decided after a couple of weeks that the crate was a total no-go. No amount of treats could get her in there, and it was impossible to physically put her in the crate with the fight she put up. That being said, crate training is a great tool for potty training anywhere, and particularly in a high-rise (as long as you can get your dog in there, of course).  

Be Realistic

The special complexities of potty training when you live in a high rise are difficult for you, but remember that they’re difficult for your dog too. Accidents will happen, and the best thing you can do is stay consistent in how you respond. Don’t let the inconvenience of taking your dog downstairs be an excuse for poor training.


A poem by Lauren Henley


While reading some of River and Sound Review this morning, I came upon this lovely poem. It uses the dog as a metaphor for the past. Anytime a dog is used literally or figuratively in poetry I admire it because it can be so hard to use domestic animals without turning the poem into something “cute.”

Read River and Sound by clicking here

Black Dog Follows Me

by Lauren Henley

I did not want you when I first saw you,

which is a response that you know

like your name & the names

you must be called, of which I too

have called you

on all the nights that came before.

You see,

we people are like baskets, and sometimes

like olives,

there is a desire to always be filled

by something. All that to say

we are afraid

& the filling is often a meatless

kind of shadow. You must be tired.

Here is your bed and your bowl.

How you knew I’d be out walking,

you whose volume shifts like pop bottles catching rain,

you with the ribs like scratches

from a hand file,

you hound with eyes too much like a man’s,

& how I thought

I could make it home without you trailing


all of this serves as reminder,

a string around the finger:

I am not a closed book,

not a pretty thing in a tower,

there is meat in my coat pocket.

Get What You Need (or Learning Something from the Stones)


I love the Rolling Stones. They have wonderfully quotable music. One of my favorite quotes is “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”

It’s one of those quotes that I push on friends and family when they are going through some type of undesirable situation. The only time I do not prefer this outlook is when I am the one in the undesirable situation. Go figure.

Ever since I got Nala I have been slightly unable to settle into my usual slightly-anal-retentive-over-productive-over-organized self. I often work from home and, therefore, have fallen into a very specific routine.

  1. Wake around 7
  2. Make coffee
  3. Check Facebook to ease into the whole work with computer thingy
  4. Drink coffee while checking all e-mail boxes (there are four)
  5. Start logging on to the school sites, opening papers and grading
  6. Grade until noon (two if there is a lot to do) / eat lunch while grading
  7. Go for a jog or to the gym
  8. Clean (laundry etc.)
  9. Shower
  10. Watch some TV or read
  11. Dinner often involves friends, boyfriend, or family
  12. Read
  13. Bed
  14. Repeat

Pretty simple. To those who have families and 9-5 jobs it probably seems a little ridiculous, but this kind of routine made me comfortable. And with Miko, my dog for 12 years, this was possible because by the time this became my routine she was old-ish and relaxed.

However, even those who have lives full of appointments and little league games, still have a route, they are just most likely more demanding. Routines are important. They make us feel comfortable. It’s why we get angry when our car breaks down (besides the fact that it costs money), it puts a kink on our routine, interferes with plans. Even the Chili minors trapped underground for two months carried on a routine to maintain their sanity. Leaders of the group assigned jobs, eating and drinking times, and even a place and time for chapel.

My routine has changed, and I have been uncomfortable for months.

I would give you an example of what my life is like now that I have Nala, but that is impossible because it changes pretty much every day. Is part of that my fault? Yes.  In the fall and spring semesters I took on some extra classes in my constant feeble attempt to make more money, be more professional, and seem like a hero enough to get good letters of recommendation when I finally get to move (one of these days….). And I haven’t really been able to hit the sweet spot of routine with these classes, my need for work time / reading time / writing time, and Nala’s needs.

There are times when this causes me serious stress and even despair.  I think about how much money I spend on this dog, how much time, and how much time I am NOT spending on my writing or at the gym or with my boyfriend. Then I feel guilty for getting her in the first place.

Then, last weekend, my boyfriend and I went camping with our dogs. (He has a Swiss Mountain Dog named Ozzie who is a big teddy bear.) When I got home I was showing my mother a video of Nala swimming in the lake and fetching a stick, over and over (she’s a great swimmer) and my mother’s response was, “Aw. She got such a good home.” And I thought, yes, she did. How dare I regret giving a dog a good home? So what if my routine has been off? Truth be told, I’m probably getting what I need. Who knows? Without Nala I may have become some kind of hermit and eventually developed a phobia and never left my apartment again.

So, with this in mind. I’ve come up with a new, very flexible, routine for the both of us.

  1. Wake at 7
  2. Walk one mile
  3. Run two miles
  4. Walk one mile
  5. Shower (For Nala this means nap)
  6. Write (For Nala this means nap)
  7. Work on on-line classes until no later than 2 (For Nala this means one of three things, nap, chew bone, or stare outside at birds)
  8. Do whatever we want until we both get tired.

This is Nala after the first run / walk on the first day of our anti-routine routine.

I started this just last week and so far the results are thus:

  1. Nala is super relaxed all day
  2. I am super relaxed all day
  3. I get a lot more done because Nala naps more
  4. I have lost one pound.
  5. We are both happier.

If I keep this up I won’t even need my gym membership.

Maybe this is what I needed all along.

Spray Sense No Bark Collar


This image was taken from

Product: Spray Sense No Bark Collar

Claim: Curbs excessive barking by spraying citronella on the dog when activated by the vibrations of a bark. Dogs are supposed to hate this smell and eventually realize that bark equal spray.

Where to Buy: Petco. Amazon. Pet supply sites.

Price: I paid over $60 at Petsmart but I have found it on for half this price.

Did it Work?: No.


I purchased this to curb Nala barking while in her crate when I was away. However, Nala does not dislike water and that in addition to her anxiety made this collar nothing more than a nice air freshener. It is, however, a very humane option over a shock collar if it works, which is exactly why I bought it.

I ended up giving it to a fiend who had a dog that was bully barking (barking at owners or other dogs for attention). She said it was pretty funny to see the dog sprayed for the first time, but eventually the dog cared more about barking than not getting a douse of orange smelling spray in the face.

Is it a Keeper?: Not for this dog.

Top Paw Chrome Pinch Training Collar


Product: Chrome Pinch Training Collar

Image taken from Petsmart Website

Claim: Training device when worn under supervision. Distributes correction pressure evenly around the pet’s neck.

Not to be used with a tie-out.

Where to Buy: Just about anywhere. I purchased at Petsmart.

Price: $18.99 at Petsmart. I did find it for about $12 at Theisens much later, however. Price varies by size.

Did it Work?: Yes.


Okay, so it looks scary. But after training classes, a harness, a choke collar, and a gentle lead, I was forced by process of elimination to give this a try. Nala was STILL pulling. This was the answer. She was immediately more relaxed on the leash and I found that although this looks a little frightening, it is more humane than having a dog choke him/herself. With this collar the dog is making the decision not to pull because pulling equals discomfort. The prongs aren’t super sharp and even when I have had to yank a little to correct Nala, I did not find any marks on her neck.

In fact, Nala has come to LOVE this collar because it means we are going for a walk or run. And, since I’ve purchased it, I’ve noticed that a LOT of dogs are wearing this collar. It’s popular for a reason.

Is it a Keeper?: I’m not sure I could live without this collar.


Five Benefits of Pet Ownership


As posted on Life With Dog Website

There are hundreds, thousands, if not millions of reasons to love your pet. In honor of reaching one million Facebook “pet fans”, Petco conducted a survey on how pets make life one million times better. Listed in order of most popular sentiment, nearly 5,000 pet parents responded by saying:

1)    He/She Loves Me No Matter What: No matter whom you are, where you’re from or what you do, a pet’s love is unconditional. According to a survey conducted by, almost half of the pet owners surveyed admit they sometimes talk to their pet. And 80% of those people stated that on those occasions, the animal seemed to respond by means of sounds, facial expressions, or body language. In other words, your pet is always there when you need them to provide a comforting hug or a big, wet kiss!

2)    He/She’s My Best Friend: Pets are constant companions that make us laugh, keep us company and provide an outlet for pet parents to voice any problems without judgment. Pets can offer companionship, acceptance, feelings of safety and being needed. In fact, according to the Economist, dogs have been know as “man’s best friend” for over 20,000 years! Cats, hamsters, turtles, fish or whatever your pet preference may be, they provide a friendship all its own. Pets are loyal and offer a friendship that differs from any other.

3)    He/She Makes Me Laugh: According to an article in the New York Times, the familiar feeling of laughter triggers an increase of feel-good chemicals in the brain. No matter what kind of pet, our furry friends have quirks that provide constant comedy. Whether it’s a bird that mimics funny sayings, a cat chasing his tail, a dog in a pet fashion show, or a hamster running his ball all over the house, our pets’ curious nature keep the laughs coming.

4)    He/She’s The Perfect Stress-Reducer: Sometimes nothing beats cuddling up next to your dog or cat, or taking care of your pet to help provide a positive outlet for stress. According to the National Help Call Center, pets reduce stress, help pet parents deal with loss or grief, make depression less likely and can be especially encouraging for the elderly. Just petting a dog for 15 minutes releases the feel-good hormones serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin, and lowers the stress hormone cortisol, a University of Missouri-Columbia study says. So it’s not only your pet that finds solace in a belly rub; interacting with pets is proven to provide tranquility for you as well.

5)    He Gets Me Off The Sofa: Just like humans, pets of all ages and activity levels need regular exercise to stay healthy. It’s not a bad thing that our four-legged buddies stare at us with their pouty eyes, begging us to get off the couch and take them for a walk. Exercising with your pet can lead to a lifetime of good health and good times. According to Michigan State University, not only are dog owners more likely to take regular walks, but new research shows that people who walk their dog are more active overall than people who don’t have dogs.

How to live



This isn’t a picture of Nala. Just one that was sent to me via e-mail. It reminds me, as Nala does so often, how to live. Put your face in the wind and enjoy every moment of this wondrous life.