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How to unteach a behavior?


vickim
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I have inadvertently taught Stormy a behavior I do not want. In my quest for house training, whenever she had an accident in the house, I took her outside. Now, she will deliberately potty without even asking to go out {if she even knows how; not sure about this}, just so she can go outside--she LOVES going outside for any reason. I should have seen that coming. I'm taking the mental approach of starting all over and considering a doggy litter pan to her onto the right track. Any thoughts on this? I wanted to avoid paper training, since you essentially have to house train twice (also because she shreds any paper she can find). But the damage is done and I will use what works.

 

Other than that, Stormy is doing really well! She is getting better as basics like sit and down, leave it it, drop it, her name, come, working on stay, working on not jumping up on people, working on sitting and waiting at the door for a release before charging out willy-nilly when it's time for a walk (and she has progressed to the point where she nearly always sits at the door when I open it; I just still have to physically restrain her before i release). She loves walks and our visitor dog (Stitch)is an awesome babysitter--she is willing to play with Stormy, burn off some of that energy, and puts up with a lot of puppy antics that would have me beside myself. While on walks, Stormy likes to plop down on her belly and wait for Stitch o catch up to us and pounce on her. Have I mentioned what an awesome dog Stitch is? I think I want to keep her just for the babysitter duties--she works cheaply!

 

As always, any thoughts or suggestions on training are welcome and appreciated!

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The end goal is to get her to ask to go outside to use the bathroom. For that reason, I wouldn't use a dog pan, pad, or papers. Kind of defeats the end goal in my opinion. If you think that she's going in the house simply to earn the reward of going outside, then I think you should not reward such accidents with going outside. I'd put her in a crate after such accident. Further, I'd let her out more frequently, and praise/reward heavily when she does her business outside.

 

so:

- Increase outside break times and praise/reward when she does her thing outside

- Minimize earned positive reinforcement when accidents happen, perhaps even add negative reinforcement such as crate time.

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FIrst off, are you sure she doesn't have any issues like a UTI? That can cause frequent urination.

 

But otherwise, Back to square one -

 

-crate her or tether her to you so she doesn't have a chance to go in the house

 

-frequent trips outside, where it is the most boring place ever until she potties (keep her on a leash and stand like a statue until she goes), then have a party

 

- if she potties inside, crate her while you clean it up, then take her outside where you follow the above instructions, except after your mini party, she comes right back inside with you.

 

- try to increase outside play sessions a bit and offer her some more mental stimulation inside (treat dispensing toys perhaps?)

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In addition to all of the above, I would consider teaching her an alternative way to ask to go outside. I taught my girl to ring bells to go out. If you do a google search, there are lots of tutorials on how to teach it. (sidenote: I didn't follow those, I just rang the bells myself every time before I let the dogs out... Penny caught on super quick and was soon ringing them herself, and my sheltie-mix girl also figured it out, though she only uses the bells in cases of emergency... might not work for every dog, but it worked for us).

 

We did go through a phase where she rang the bells A LOT and wanted to go out A LOT. I did let her out most times though. I wanted to reinforce the idea that this was something that she could ask of me. Eventually, it died down, and now she doesn't even ring the bells too often... just in really urgent situations.

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I would go back to crate training 101 and treat her as if she were not housetrained at all.

 

I would then use going outside to play as a jackpot for going to the bathroom outside. I would use a protocol like this:

 

1. In the crate, or restricted indoor area.

 

2. Out to eliminate.

 

3. If she should eliminate, back in the house, but then an immediate release back outside to play, when possible, or some sort of indoor jackpot when it is not. (That way she will learn that she is to come back in after going, but will sometimes be released back out to play).

 

I would gradually increase freedom indoors until she is trustworthy.

 

In addition, if she were to have an accident in the house, I would put her on leash to take her out to finish. Not as a punishment (I would be completely neutral about it since I want a dog to love being on leash), but just to disallow play in those instances.

 

I wish you the best!

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