When you have a dog who is a problem child, there is always a new adventure. Check out some of Zekie’s antics at this link. Zekie the Wonder Dog Life is never dull with Zekie around. He keeps me on my toes. He is a no mistake dog. If you forget to put something out of his reach or give in to his demands once, he will make you pay.
His newest quirk involves his quest to be able to sleep on our bed. We don’t want him to sleep on the bed because if he thinks he is moving up in the pecking order to become higher in the pack ranking, trouble is sure to follow. Zekie sleeps in a crate beside our bed. He used to sleep in his downstairs crate for the night. He was fine doing that for a while, then one day he decided it was time to move upstairs. I did promote him to sleeping upstairs with us humans, because after a few days of dealing with his barking, we just wanted a good night’s sleep. Zekie has been sleeping in a crate near our bed for a couple years now. He has been quiet and content for the most part. Until recently.
It started with Zekie trying to avoid going in his crate when I took him upstairs at bedtime. He no longer went directly in his crate. He was circling around the bed, trying to avoid my attempts to catch him for incarceration. Over the past week, things have gotten worse. Now Zekie wakes me up about 1:00 am with whining and huffing. The first night, I got up to put him outside, thinking he needed to go to the bathroom. He did.
The next night he began the whining and huffing and making noise in his crate at the usual 1:00 am. Then again at 3:00 am and at 4:30 am. I put him outside thinking maybe he wasn’t feeling well. The second and third time he just stood there looking at me as if to say “what are we doing out here?” This has gone on for five nights. On the second night, I broke down and let him sleep on a blanket on the floor at the foot of the bed. He was content and slept there for the rest of the night without making a peep. By the third night, after my husband pointed out that Zekie was playing me, I realized that I could not let him win this quest to sleep outside the crate at his demand. I had been thinking before of letting Zekie sleep loose in the bedroom with a designated bed for him, not on our bed. And I may still do that at some point, but not now. Zekie has a sense of entitlement and giving in to him creates more behavioral problems in the long run. So, he may make it out of the crate at bedtime one day, but today is not that day. It must be when I decide, not him.
On the third night I knew we couldn’t let him out. We needed to break this cycle. So, we suffered through with his whining, yipping, etc., ignoring him, but getting little sleep.
How did I solve this dilemma? With my trusty spray bottle. So far, so good. I have noticed that Zekie does respond well to the use of a squirt bottle as a deterrent. It stops him, and a number of our other dogs, from barking. It even stops him from jumping on me. Zekie is the only dog I have ever had that I have not been able to break from jumping up. And he jumps hard. He often flings himself at full speed into my legs, sometimes hard enough to bruise. He does everything in a big way and he is so excited to see me when we have been separated that in his exuberance, he becomes a missile. Incidentally, being separated can be me returning from the mailbox, which takes about one minute. Or me going to the garden to pick a vegetable for dinner. Even going to the basement to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer counts as a separation to him. (Going to the bathroom does not count as a separation because he goes with me. Every. Single. Time.) But I discovered if I squirt him as he is jumping up, he will either turn around or veer off to the side, missing me. I am even starting to be able to just point the bottle at him down to keep him down.
I found this one tool that has given me good results with controlling Zekie, so I decided to try it to keep him quiet at night too. And it worked! Zekie started his shenanigans in the middle of the night. I gave him one “Be quiet” command. On his next whine and woof, I picked the spray bottle up and squirted him once. Silence ensued. He does start up again multiple times throughout the night, but I give him a squirt and he settles down. This has worked for the past two nights. So for now, on sleeping or not sleeping through the night, the score is: Zekie-2, mommy-2. I fully expect my wins to increase now that I have discovered the water bottle technique for this use.
At some point, when I decide the time is right, I will give Zekie his shot at becoming a dog who doesn’t sleep in a crate at night. Having the humans keep control is a constant challenge around here. So far, although we have gone to the dogs, we have prevailed.
You have to love a dog with so much love that it can’t be contained. Yes, Zekie is a problem child. He is also a constant companion, and a source of undying love. I love him back.