Three Months In

Today marks three months since we brought Duke home! I did a check in at two weeks and six weeks – these check ins have been a good chance to reflect on Duke’s progress and our goals for him as well as to share with you all our journey adopting Duke!

Duke is doing awesome with sit, he’s totally mastered it. He doesn’t always deliver though, but I have a feeling that it has to do with the fact the sidewalk is so cold on his butt when he sits down! (We live in New England, it’s already getting into the 30’s for our morning walk.) He’s done so well on stay. When he does his business, we’ve been practicing a sit and stay while I pick it up & he’s doing so well. But I’m worried about losing it since it’s been getting too cold for Duke to sit. Maybe I’m babying him by thinking his butt is getting cold, but if it was me, I wouldn’t want to sit on the ground!
I’m starting to introduce “heel” in an effort to improve his pulling, but I don’t have much patience to keep it up our entire walk. Baby steps!


We did a sit & stay for me to take this shot!

For the first six weeks, Duke never had a single accident. However, since then there have been three! Three smelly piles of poo on three separate days. The first two occurred in the same week. The third was a week after. It has been very sporadic. I thought the first accident was due to the fire alarm going off when he was home alone, and scaring the poop out of him – literally. But that theory is losing ground the more it happens. I don’t know what to do about this one – I’m worried he thinks it is okay since he’s done it a few times, though we’ve tried to reprimand him.

Walks & Outside Behavior:
The pulling is still an issue. We got a slip lead collar which makes me feel more in control, especially since it is only four feet long. He can’t wear a harness due to skin issues, so I think training and the slip lead are how to help the pulling for the time being.
He’s spending more time off-leash and doing well. We’re taking baby steps still with this one though.


Autumn walk with Dad.

Inside Behavior:
Anything within his reach that might be remotely edible is dangerous. But I’ve gotten the hang of keeping things out of his reach – especially after I saw him jump to reach things on the back of the counter! He also had a few weeks where he was getting into the trash (and he even ate some which had us worried sick, but he passed it a few days later). Now, I take the trash out a lot more and we installed child locks on the under sink cabinet where we keep it.
He spends most of the time when we’re not home sleeping (or getting into trouble – but hopefully not!). When we come home he either plays with the Kong or cuddles with us. He is obsessive with the Kong, so we try to limit how long he plays with it when we’re home. It usually goes away around 9 PM to prep for bedtime. One night, we let him take it to bed by accident, and I woke up in the middle of the night and when I rolled over, I bounced it off the bed onto the floor. Duke woke up to the sound of the bouncing Kong and proceeded to play with it until I could take it away and then I hid it under my pillow until morning. Ridiculous!


The boys sleeping.

Medical Issues:
The bumps on his back are still gone. He’s got what we refer to as acne on his chin, but it doesn’t bother him and none of the vets we’ve seen have been concerned by it. He tends to get rug burn on his belly from scooting around under the couch all the time but it heals up quickly.

We’ve taken him off of the grain-free diet per the vet’s recommendation and he adjusted well to the switch. He eats in the morning & at night. He doesn’t beg for table scraps or reach for them when we are around. (When we’re not around he’s more willing to try things! He hasn’t gotten any treats since the jerky recall, even though we never fed him jerky treats. I’m just so nervous & we’re running low on our old brand of treats. The peanut butter is working for now.

So after three months – we’ve adjusted well. Duke has fully adapted to our lives and schedule in the best possible way. He’s become a bit more adventurous in terms of seeing what he can get away with – such as eating the trash and the accidents. We’ve also discovered he’s developed a strong sense of trust with us. He is more wiling to approach people and be friendly when we are guiding the interaction and by his side. We’re trusting him more by letting him off leash. He’s developed a unique relationship with me and a different one with Sam. He comes to each of us to get various needs met. (I’m the cuddle buddy, Dad is the play buddy.)  He’s added nothing but happiness to our lives & I’m thankful every day that we found each other!

Q: Do you have any suggestions on how to discourage the accidents or handle them if they occur again while we’re not home? 


14 thoughts on “Three Months In

  1. Duke is adjusting well! I wish I had advice for the accidents, we used crate training for Dakota (we got him when he was 8 months old) and he used the crate til he was almost 2 yrs old. That eliminated any accidents while we were out.

  2. Unless you actually catch him in the act of pooping – reprimanding him after the fact isn’t going to be effective. He’ll just think you coming home equals him getting yelled at. I’d recommend crate training as well. Once he can handle that without any accidents, then gradually increase the space he is allowed in by blocking off a small section of a living area where even if he does have an accident, you can clean it up easily (so, no carpeting).

    When I first adopted Blueberry, I used a Martingale on her and used the method described in Tamar Geller’s book “The Loved Dog”. ( is also a handy resource) I had the leash attached to my belt loop and whenever B would pull, I’d stop until she let the leash slacken and then we’d move on. I admit, this is a longer method of training for a dog to not pull – but to me yanking on a dog’s neck isn’t the answer either. I’m an advocate for positive reinforcement. I’ve also heard that if a dog pulls, it doesn’t matter the size of the leash – so I did start off using a 15 foot training leash (no Flexi-leads, I can’t stand those things) and found in my experience – it is true. Blueberry isn’t likely to pull on a 6 foot leash anymore than 15 foot. Now there are those occasions when she sees a rabbit and wants to hop off after it – but about 95% of the time, our walks/hikes are pull free.

    If you ever want a recipe for dog treats – let me know. I’m happy to share those with you or you can find them on my blog too. There are a few treats that I will buy – but I do look at all labels first and if there is anything in there that I think is questionable or I can’t pronounce – I don’t buy it.

    Duke sounds like he is adjusting well!

    • This is so helpful, thank you so much!!
      I am so glad that we have hardwood floors – makes for such easy cleanup! I’m really hoping it won’t continue as a pattern, but we may have to consider crating if it does. It seems so odd to me that the accidents aren’t consistent. Hopefully I can either get to the bottom of why it is happening or it just won’t happen anymore!
      We really liked the idea of a Martingale, we got our hands on a slip lead first, so we picked that up instead. Thanks for sharing those resources, I can’t wait to check them out.
      I’d love some treat recipes, I’ll go check out your blog now!
      Again, thank you for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully, I really appreciate your insights!

  3. Thanks for the update. Blueberry’s human is right – he can’t put together the pooping and the reprimand unless it’s happening right at the same time. The best thing I’ve found is to try and get them on a regular schedule so they always go out to do their business at the same time. I know when my dogs are going to poop, so I make sure they get out in that time frame. Limiting the space available to them through the use of a crate is also helpful.

    • Good to know, I’ve always felt that trying to reprimand him after the fact was useless. Duke seems to be on a regular schedule for the most part. I’m even able to tell if there’s going to be a second deposit on our walks by now, as much as that might be TMI! Hopefully it doesn’t continue, but if it does, we might have to consider a crate.

  4. I love that your updating us. This is going to help so many people. (1) I would make sure to clean up the area(s) where he’s pooped so that there’s not lingering scent that he can pick up, (2) if this is happening around the same time of day, then I would suggest a potty break beforehand, and (3) do you think he can still be freaked by the alarm system? Maybe other loud noises are setting him off and it just started with the alarm.

    • It makes me so happy to hear you say that this will be helpful to others- that’s what I’m hoping! 🙂

      I washed the floor with bleach after the third accident to hopefully remove any scent. I really think it might have been the fire alarm. It’s pretty loud & he was home alone at the time. It would have scared me pretty bad had I been in his situation!

      Thanks for such thoughtful advice! It means a lot!

  5. Looks like there’s still lots to learn about Duke! We found new behaviours – and old ones disappear – even a few months after adopting Alma and as she got comfortable and more confident.
    I agree with other commenters that reprimanding for inside bathroom behaviour doesn’t work unless it’s exactly in the moment of the behaviour.
    Crate training might be a good option if the behaviour continues. We had to do that with Alma – not for bathroom problems, but because she’d channel separation anxiety into destruction when left home alone. We’ve slowly weaned her off and now we can leave her a whole day outside of the crate without worry. But the crate does come in handy – it’s her home and secure place now, and she likes to have it there when we travel. If there’s a particularly loud thunder storm, she’ll just go in and curl up and try to sleep, so I’m glad it’s also useful to provide her with comfort.

    Side comment – fall looks beautiful in your photos! Love the bright red leaves!

  6. It sounds like Duke is settling in really nicely! He looks like quite the spoiled guy!

    My tip for preventing accidents when you aren’t home is to confine him to a smaller space. Maybe try just baby gating him in the kitchen or a bedroom. If that doesn’t work, you can always try a crate. Once he is used to his smaller space and has gone a few months without an accident then you can start giving him more and more freedom.

    Good luck and keep up the good work!

    • He is so spoiled! Totally my fault too! We tried to baby gate him in the kitchen his first day with us and he promptly hopped over the baby gate, hurting his foot in the process! So we stopped that to make sure he didn’t injure himself. Looks like the crate really is our best option!

      Thanks for the advice!

  7. Pingback: Four Months In | Life with Duke

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