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Housebreaking an adult dog


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Hey guys – I’ve been lurking on here for a while now in preparation for adopting a dog. I recently (almost 3 weeks ago) adopted a 2 year old female BCX rescue, and she’s wonderful aside from one major fact – she isn’t housebroken. Though I was told she was, when she came home it became apparent that she had no idea that the inside was off-limits, and I’ve been working on it with her ever since. I keep her with me at all times, and if I can’t be there to watch her, she’s crated. Nevertheless, she continues to have accidents, though I take her outdoors often, watch her carefully for signs of circling, etc., and scold her when she urinates on the carpeting and take her outdoors immediately (basically, treating her as though she's a puppy and starting from scratch). I’m also careful to thoroughly clean any messes she makes. However, I still get the feeling that she doesn’t understand that she is not to go to the bathroom indoors.

 

I know a lot of you on here have rescues or foster adult dogs, so for those of you that have had to work with an adult dog that is not housebroken, how have you gone about it and how have you known when he/she was trustworthy? Have any of you ever had a dog that you could not housebreak? I’m really not sure if there’s something I’m missing, if I should be doing something differently, or if it’s simply a matter of time and patience. Any help would be much appreciated.

 

-K

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Just a thought but, what do you think about turning it completely around....dead silence if you catch her doing something wrong inside, but really positive rewards if she's good outside? Keep some really yummy treat outside in a tamper proof container so you don't have to grab it on the way out the door and praise her to the skies when she does her duty outside.

 

If it's true that she was housebroken, the piddling in the house might be a sign of nerves rather than "accidents". Is it a really "gotta go" kind of accident or submissive piddling because she's adjusting to a new situation? And in any case, the positive reward scenario always works best in housebreaking.

 

 

It can take awhile for an adult dog to reverse her habits, especially if the dog has been kenneled and not given access to bathroom areas for some time. You can hang a bell on the door that you use most often for potty patrol and as you go out the door, ask her to "touch" -- ring the bell and she will eventually connect the two ideas and ask to go out.

 

The downside is, the bell is constantly ringing in our house because Robin (who is mostly in charge of the bell) just wants to go out to play but we respond to that as well. If they ask to go out, and play nicely, it's okay. But don't ever respond to the cat ringing the bell. Dogs have masters. Cats have staff. :rolleyes:.

 

Liz

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If she hasn't been checked for a Urinary Tract Infection, do that first. Then, if she's healthy, put her on a schedule. Take her out every hour or two hours when you're home. Praise lightly for urinating outside. You might want to soak up some urine with a paper towel, take that out and put it where you want her to eliminate. Take her to that spot and wait.

 

If you're scolding her while she's eliminating, all you're doing is frightening her, and she's only learning that it's not safe to pee in front of you. That leads to her sneaking off. If you're scolding her after the fact, then she's not able to connect the eliminating inside with your displeasure, [b]and[/b] you're not watching her carefully enough. Keep her crated or be actively playing/working with her.

 

If it's nervous piddling, as Liz suggests it might be, give her some social space. Leave her alone a bit more, don't talk to her a lot, or pet her a lot, just let her be with you and learn about this new world. Have friends and family do the same, especially when entering or leaving your home. If you're trying to train her in other areas, ease up on that, too. Let her get used to your routine, some dogs take several weeks to really feel comfortable.

 

Thanks for taking her in, and I'm sure we'd all like to see pictures!

 

Ruth

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Your note about "waiting" triggered a memory about our dear Ladybug -- when we brought her home from the pound, she didn't piddle for about 14 hours! We brought her home mid-afternoon, walked her and walked her all through the day and evening and she held it all day, all night, and the next morning still wouldn't go, we took her to the vet, her bladder was bursting....he said, she'll let go sooner or later...just watch her. We brought her home, took her outside and started to play ball with her, and finally the poor girl went to the bathroom! She was just so nervous about the new rules that she didn't know what to do and she decided the best course of action was to do nothing...I don't know how long she would have held on if we hadn't gotten that tennis ball out! Female dogs can be really funny sometimes.

 

Liz

 

If she hasn't been checked for a Urinary Tract Infection, do that first. Then, if she's healthy, put her on a schedule. Take her out every hour or two hours when you're home. Praise lightly for urinating outside. You might want to soak up some urine with a paper towel, take that out and put it where you want her to eliminate. Take her to that spot and wait.

 

If you're scolding her while she's eliminating, all you're doing is frightening her, and she's only learning that it's not safe to pee in front of you. That leads to her sneaking off. If you're scolding her after the fact, then she's not able to connect the eliminating inside with your displeasure, [b]and[/b] you're not watching her carefully enough. Keep her crated or be actively playing/working with her.

 

If it's nervous piddling, as Liz suggests it might be, give her some social space. Leave her alone a bit more, don't talk to her a lot, or pet her a lot, just let her be with you and learn about this new world. Have friends and family do the same, especially when entering or leaving your home. If you're trying to train her in other areas, ease up on that, too. Let her get used to your routine, some dogs take several weeks to really feel comfortable.

 

Thanks for taking her in, and I'm sure we'd all like to see pictures!

 

Ruth

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I don't know how long she would have held on if we hadn't gotten that tennis ball out! Female dogs can be really funny sometimes.

 

Males too. My last foster dog was pretty much semi-feral. He had to be trapped because he was not trusting of humans. We trapped him because he had a leg injury that needed to be looked at. He held everything for 2 days. I picked him up at the clinic after his neuter and he went in my car (#1 & #2)! Fear no doubt, he just couldn't hold it in anymore and was so petrified.

 

Anyway, even this dog I had house broken in 2 weeks. He hid in my office, eat in my office, slept in my office and did his business in my office. I had to lay a tarp over my carpet. There was no way around it, he was injured and scared to death. If I picked him up to take him out, he was so panicked that he would bolt as soon as I put him down. The first week, I worked really hard to make him interested in me. I always had food and I played non-stop with my other dog. He was very, very curious and eventually started following me around the house. He had a 6ft buffer zone for the longest time, but he'd follow me and I kept feeding and feeding him. By the end of the first week, he'd willingly follow me outside (as long as the door was propped open and I was no where near it). The second he did his business out doors, I would literally dump a pile of treats nearby for him. He clicked in pretty quickly. I didn't praise him or anything because it scared him, but I would suggest that in your case, verbal praise and a jackpot reward every time she goes outside and completely ignoring her if she goes indoors would be the fastest way to get her house broken. Provided there is no medical condition.

 

Jackpot reward= multiple pieces of the dogs FAVORITE food. Little bits of steak, cheese, hotdog whatever the dog will sell its soul for. In my case I just dumped a handful in a pile nearby, but with you, you could have a handful and give them one at a time from your hand.

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Dear Cheyenne1 - welcome and thank you for opening up your heart to a dog in need. We have 4 rescues - each had different issues in terms of housebreaking. The more easy going and less traumatized dog had the easiest time with the housebreaking. The dogs with issues took the longest to adjust.

1) Know that they do finally settle down and it all works out.

2) Your adult dog will bond with you more than you can ever image - she is trying to learn to do the "right" thing.

3) Try to keep stress to the minimum. Remember - any harshness at all can cause a set back.

4) I use the cue word - lets go do your business. or "Do your business". That is all I say in a really calm voice. Once the are doing their business in the sweetest, quietest voice possible - I say what a good dog - doing your business outside.

5) Keep a consistent schedule for going out. They are like little kids and they like a routine. Good luck.

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I'm a proponent of tethering the dog to me when I am home and crating when I am not until the dog is housebroken. By tethering her to me, I can immediately tell if the dog is looking for a place to potty and can stop the act, take her outside, reward for pottying outside. I use a consistent schedule for going out and feeding, and the dog usually housebreaks pretty quickly.

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Thanks for the replies. She is on a pretty set schedule - if she's not crated, she generally goes out every hour or two. I've never scolded her after the fact, and I try to be conscientious of not scaring her into refusing to go to the bathroom when I'm near; she's a very skittish and submissive dog, so a simple, relatively soft "No" or "Ah ah" suffices (for most things, not simply housebreaking). I think time will definitely help, and I'll try to keep that in mind :rolleyes:

 

She has been to the vet, so no UTI (I'm also a vet student, so hopefully I'd recognize that, but it's also possible that I could miss it so she had a full workup done when she was spayed) and I don't think she's urinating out of nerves - I really think she simply has no idea that she's not supposed to go in the house. As far as I can tell, she knows that outside is preferable but not imperative. My guess is that she was mostly an outdoor dog where she was being fostered (it was a pretty rural area).

 

Anyway, I'll try to get some pictures up soon; in the meantime, I'll continue to try to be as positive as possible outdoors with her and keep her on an even, set schedule. My biggest fear is that her behavior has become ingrained over the years and I will not be able to train her otherwise (silly, I know, but I've never raised anything but a puppy prior to Elo). Cody&Duchess - glad to hear it does work out in the end. Thanks again!

 

-K

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Thanks for the replies. She is on a pretty set schedule - if she's not crated, she generally goes out every hour or two. I've never scolded her after the fact, and I try to be conscientious of not scaring her into refusing to go to the bathroom when I'm near; she's a very skittish and submissive dog, so a simple, relatively soft "No" or "Ah ah" suffices (for most things, not simply housebreaking). I think time will definitely help, and I'll try to keep that in mind :rolleyes:

 

She has been to the vet, so no UTI (I'm also a vet student, so hopefully I'd recognize that, but it's also possible that I could miss it so she had a full workup done when she was spayed) and I don't think she's urinating out of nerves - I really think she simply has no idea that she's not supposed to go in the house. As far as I can tell, she knows that outside is preferable but not imperative. My guess is that she was mostly an outdoor dog where she was being fostered (it was a pretty rural area).

 

Anyway, I'll try to get some pictures up soon; in the meantime, I'll continue to try to be as positive as possible outdoors with her and keep her on an even, set schedule. My biggest fear is that her behavior has become ingrained over the years and I will not be able to train her otherwise (silly, I know, but I've never raised anything but a puppy prior to Elo). Cody&Duchess - glad to hear it does work out in the end. Thanks again!

 

-K

We had some trouble housetraining around here! Tethering finally was the thing that worked. It really only took maybe a week of that and we were done with it (except that one time when I said "Go Potty" as I was opening the door for her to go out, got distracted by the kids and didn't get the door open all the way, and looked

down to see she'd pottied right there where I told her to--inside! LOL)

 

Also, don't know if this might help or not--but maybe try taking her out more often so you can get ahead of her schedule a little. Maybe that would help you catch her doing it right more often and minimize the chances that she'll go inside.

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Emma has been house trained for a long time now and all of a sudden she is pissing or even pooping on the bed we lay on in the living room because I have a bad back and it is easier for me to lay on bed then any other chair or couch. Started all of a sudden and she doesn't even ask to go out just does her business twice this last week, I am doing a little more work on some friends computers but still taking her for her trail walks and playing in the yard, just trying to figure out what the problem is. We are starting to use her crate more once again. We were giving her the run of the house when we go out with no accident for months until just recently. Never on the rug or tile floor just the bed and did poop on our bed in the bedroom once, i keep the door closed so that is hard to get to. I was considering taking the bed up in the living room and storing it on our front porch and see what happens. Any suggestion would be appreciated thanks. Our Lab had an issue peeing on the rug until i caught her doing it right in front of me the one day and ( I don't condone slapping or hitting a dog) but she got a swat on the ass and she never did it again the rest of her life.

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So I've been keeping with her schedule of going out every 1-2 hours and watching her closely when we're indoors, and I reward and praise her when she goes outdoors. However, I woke up this morning at 6am to find her urinating in her crate. This is a 2 year old dog that had been taken out RIGHT before being crated (around 11pm or so) for the night, and who only has half the crate to begin with (it's a medium-sized crate, so she has enough room to comfortably turn and lie down in, but not enough room in which to choose an area to use as a bathroom). I'll admit that I'm at a bit of a loss - we've always crate-trained our dogs, and unless one was sick, we've never had one urinate/defecate in it before. Without being able to rely on crating her when I can't watch her, I feel like there's really nowhere I can trust her. Again, suggestions? Has anyone else had these issues? I've been working with her on this for a month now, and I'm starting to feel pretty defeated.

 

-K

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I was looking back through the posts to see if there had been a vet check for any kind of infection or other problem that could cause incontinence? Has she been good in crate otherwise? It might be something as simple as she just doesn't have the habit of completely emptying her bladder when she goes out... and it caught up with her - I've noticed that Ladybug piddles here, piddles there, piddles over there....rarely does she stay in one spot, even first thing in the morning...

 

Liz

 

So I've been keeping with her schedule of going out every 1-2 hours and watching her closely when we're indoors, and I reward and praise her when she goes outdoors. However, I woke up this morning at 6am to find her urinating in her crate. This is a 2 year old dog that had been taken out RIGHT before being crated (around 11pm or so) for the night, and who only has half the crate to begin with (it's a medium-sized crate, so she has enough room to comfortably turn and lie down in, but not enough room in which to choose an area to use as a bathroom). I'll admit that I'm at a bit of a loss - we've always crate-trained our dogs, and unless one was sick, we've never had one urinate/defecate in it before. Without being able to rely on crating her when I can't watch her, I feel like there's really nowhere I can trust her. Again, suggestions? Has anyone else had these issues? I've been working with her on this for a month now, and I'm starting to feel pretty defeated.

 

-K

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