My dog Finn takes his sleep very seriously. When he’s awake, he has endless energy, and spends his days tearing around the house or persistently trying to convince us that’s it’s time for another walk or even more food. But by early evening, he’s always curled up in his dog bed, fast asleep. And that’s just fine, right up until the moment when we want him to go outside for his last potty break before we put him in his crate for the night.
Our late-night routine is always the same. When we’re ready to go to bed, my husband and I call Finn to go outside. We always begin on a cheerful note, holding the back door open hopefully and calling, “Come on, Finn! Time to go outside!” And Finn always ignores us, even when my husband adds, “I’ve got treats!” (I refuse to resort to bribery.) So then we approach his bed, a little less cheerfully, and tell him that he needs to go outside RIGHT NOW. At this point Finn opens his eyes and fixes us with a glare that makes it clear he has no intention of budging an inch.
Eventually, Finn leaves his bed, either by choice when he sees we’re not backing down and we begin to use our really stern voices, or because I lose patience and simply lift up one side of his bed and gently tip him out. And then he’ll go outside and potty (occasionally getting his revenge by peeing on my flowers), come back in, get his treat and trot willingly into his crate. And yes, we go through this routine every single night.
Despite all evidence to the contrary, Finn persists in his belief that one night he’ll win the battle and not have a bathroom break before he goes to bed (which we’d allow if we thought his bladder could hold out that long). And my husband and I keep right on believing that one of these nights Finn will cheerfully spring out of his dog bed and go outside the first time we call him.
It’s funny how often we persist in thinking we can change the way others behave, and how we naively believe that if we just try hard enough and long enough, we can convince other people that our way of thinking is the only right way. Social media provides ample proof of that, with all those posts pointing out all the faults of those who happen to believe and act in ways that are different from us. And we’ve all witnessed, and probably participated in, those futile arguments where we try so very hard to show someone just how flawed their thinking really is, and then end up frustrated when we’re not able to change their minds.
The truth is, Finn is probably never going to want to go outside for his late-night potty break, and we are never going to feel comfortable putting him to bed without it. But maybe if we try getting him out a little earlier in the evening, he won’t mind it so very much, and he’ll still be able to “hold it” through the night. Compromise, after all, is so often the key to solving problems. It’s never quite as satisfying as winning an argument or actually getting our own way, but there comes a time when we realize that it’s better to “give a little in order to get a little.” And that’s true for all of us, human and otherwise……