View Full Version : What else can I do?

July 7th, 2008, 03:25 PM

I feel like I have an unhousebreakable dog!

We adopted Ollie in January. He was a rescue, and the best guess of the vets is that he is a 4 year old white German Shepherd mix-perhaps mixed with a husky.

He is the sweetest boy, and we adore him to pieces, but we have had absolutely no luck in housebreaking him since we got him.

Some history:

He was unaltered when we adopted him. His foster mom advised us that he had a "marking" problem, (which was really not just marking or sprinkles-he full out urinates in the house) and we believed it would be resolved after he was neutered. We bought him a bellyband to keep him from messing the place up and had him neutered about 2 weeks after we got him. No luck ending the accidents.

We take him out sometimes up to 8 or 10 times a day, (a combination of walks and hikes, visits to the dog park and quick pee breaks) and he still has accidents. It doesn't seem to matter how often he goes out. These accidents can happen sometimes like 10 minutes after he was just out and are pretty much daily.

We do have him on a pretty consistent schedule. The accidents are for the most part, completely random. There is no real specific time or place where he goes. At least if we could predict the time or place where he would go, it would be easier for us to take measures to prevent it. He also does not give us any indication he wants to go out, like our other dog does. He just pees wherever he wants, whenever he wants. (We do have a bell on the doorknob, we ring it every time we take him out, and he hasn't really learned to ring the bell to tell us he needs to go out yet.)

Sometimes he poops inside as well. I am usually gone only about 4 hours at a time at the most, and even if he poops outside right before I leave, sometimes I still come home to poop on the floor. (This is not nearly as often as the urination.)

We were working with our vet on this issue (not to mention spending a fortune...) as well to rule out any medical problems. He has had urinalysis several times and a urine culture. They found some things that indicated that he had a UTI and an e-coli infection. He was on a bunch of antibiotics until we found one that finally cleared things up. His last urinalysis (about a month ago) indicated that all was fine on the medical front. We hoped that once his infection cleared up the accidents would stop, but no such luck.

We have tired every housebreaking method and idea we can think of-none have worked so far. We can't possibly take him out any more often than we already do.

We have tried crate training him. He is usually ok in the crate when we are there, but when we have left him in the crate while we were out he barked literally nonstop. I live in an apartment and our neighbor left us notes complaining about it (being in an apartment also rules out installing a doggie door.)

Our vet doesn't seem to know what else to do. She gave me some anti-anxiety medication for him to help with the separation anxiety (thinking that might be at the root of some of the elimination indoors as well as the barking and whining in the crate) and all it did was upset his stomach and make him vomit. So I had vomit as well as poop and pee to clean up...She finally referred me to a veterinary behaviorist and unfortunately, the behaviorist is very expensive and I cannot afford to take him there.

I have consulted other trainers and they honestly just give me advice that I have already tried. So I am pretty discouraged about the whole thing. If you fine folks can come up with something that I haven't already tried, I'd be eternally grateful!

July 7th, 2008, 05:13 PM
Sounds like you have your hands full with this boy. I really believe that in almost all cases, there's a way to get the job done... it's just a matter of finding it! :)

With the combination of him being unneutered and having a urinary tract infection, it isn't much of a surprise that he got into the habit of peeing in the house, poor guy!

Marking and housebreaking issues are two separate things. Marking is a stress-related/territorial behavior, whereas housebreaking problems come from a dog not understanding that going to the bathroom in the house isn't an option. From your description, he's definitely unhousebroken, and he may be doing some marking... not 100% sure on that one.

For now I say we address this as a housebreaking issue. Phase one (Yes, there will be phases! Yikes!) will be preventing him from having accidents for a period of about a month. Phase two will be increasing his freedom, spying on him and adding corrections for accidents. Phase three will be a housebroken dog and a happy home!

In order to keep him from accidents, you'll need to do strict crate training (http://www.thehousebreakingbible.com/training/crate-training.htm)and umbilical cord training (http://www.thehousebreakingbible.com/training/umbilical-cord-training.htm). I know you mentioned a barking issue in the crate, so please start out by reading our article about resolving barking issues in the crate (http://www.thehousebreakingbible.com/training/crate-barking.htm). If you're still having problems with him barking in his crate after you try the methods outlined in the article, let us know and we'll figure out what to do from there.

The idea here is to use the crate to ensure there are no accidents when you're away from home or unable to supervise Ollie. Then, when you're at home, he'll be on-leash and strictly supervised at all times. During this period, we're just trying to break his indoor peeing habit and condition him to go outside only.

A few other things... you'll need to clean all areas where he's had accidents with odor neutralizer. Once the scent is gone, it'll be easier to convince him that the house isn't a toilet. When you take him out for a walk, be sure you take one last pit stop before bringing him into the house... sometimes, dogs pee at the beginning of the walk, then they're ready to pee again by the time they get home, due to the physical activity. Not taking that extra pit stop before taking him inside may lead to accidents.

I'm overdue on writing an article on bell training:blushing:, which would help him to understand that he should start ringing the bell himself, but there are some basic instructions in a previous post you'll find here (http://www.thehousebreakingbible.com/forum/showthread.php?t=76&highlight=bell). Might as well continue working on that so when we advance to him having some freedom in the house, he'll know how to ask to go outside.

I imagine you're pretty tired and frustrated about this situation by now, but I hope you'll give it one more really concentrated effort. It can be done, it'll just take some time and it'll be a little bit of a pain in the butt. We'll definitely do our best to help you through this!

Hang in there! Let us know if you have any questions or an update...

July 7th, 2008, 05:22 PM
Forgot this part... since Ollie only barks when you're away from home, if you find that you need to correct him, you'll probably have to pretend to leave the house, stand right outside the door and barge back in to correct him if he starts barking.

Also, if you still have any kind of decent relationship with your neighbor, you might explain that you're working hard to train him to be quiet and ask him/her to bear with you and let you know if there are any more issues while you're away from home. Most people are willing to give you a break if you let them know you're working diligently to resolve the barking, so that should buy us some time to get him to quiet down.

July 7th, 2008, 05:32 PM
I have a question/possible suggestion. Do you have a fenced yard where you can safely leave Ollie? If you do, that may be an easier option than crate training him. I do think the crate training will work if you take the time to acclimate him properly, but if he's ok in the yard, that might work well right away as a place to leave him where he is allowed to potty.

July 7th, 2008, 06:16 PM
Thanks for responding.

Ollie gets extremely stressed when left alone in the crate. He does not care for toys in general, so they would not be of any comfort to him and when I have left a kong in there with him he has ignored it.

He is usually ok in there when we are still home. He does sleep in there and he whines a bit sometimes, but is usually not too bad. If he gets too whiny, we shoot him with a watergun and he calms down.

The real problem is when he is left alone. I am concerned that when we have left him that he barked for literally hours (according to our neighbor and our roommate.) He didn't settle down at all. I don't like the idea of him being that stressed out for that long. The neighbor was pretty understanding the first time, but the second time, the note she left wasn't nearly as nice.

I suppose I can try leaving him for a few minutes, come back and squirt him and then try leaving again. Dogs know, even when we are standing outside the door! So I dunno how well this will work, but I'll try it.

We do keep him hooked to his leash and attach the leash to the sofa leg when we are just hanging out in the TV room, and if I have to go to another room, I take him with me or put him in his crate. So he isn't really unsupervised when we are home. But he still pees in his bellyband right in front of us.

We have used Nature's Miracle all over pretty much everything, we have a black light and the whole works to make sure that nothing inside smells like a potty to him. I have even bought a steamcleaner and use the Natures Miracle in that for the rugs. Like I said, his accidents are really random, he doesn't go in just one place. There have been a few times when his bellyband shifted or whatever and did not catch his accident, but for the most part, his accidents are contained to the bellyband now (I line it with diapers). That is except for the poop anyway.

Unfortunately, since I live in an apartment, there is no fenced in area where I can leave him.

I will try the peanut butter on the bell to see if that speeds up him making a connection between ringing the bell and going out. (Again, because we are in an apartment, I don't want to train him to bark to let us know he has to go out.)

I have considered using a bark collar (not the kind that shocks him, but one that emits a sound that people can't hear and dogs don't like), but I am not sure how well those would work. Do you have any experience with them?

I have also been told about and have seen "calming" products. Usually herbal types supplements that are supposed to help keep dogs calm and I have considered them, but with his sensitive stomach, I am reluctant to try any of them and I don't want to waste money on something that's not gonna work. Do you have any thoughts on them?

July 7th, 2008, 09:14 PM
I just have a minute so I'll post a longer response later, but wanted to address something you said right away.

The belly band should not be used when you're at home and able to supervise Ollie! The only reason for using a belly band would be to gauge whether a dog is still having accidents when unsupervised or in the midst of a training program for marking or submissive urination.

You need to be able to see if he's peeing so you can catch him, correct him (http://www.thehousebreakingbible.com/training/housebreaking-corrections.htm) and get him outside.

In your situation, I'd only use the belly band as a last resort if you need to leave him home alone and can't crate him. It isn't going to help to train him, it'll just save your carpets if he does have an accident while you're gone.

More later on the other issues...

July 8th, 2008, 06:12 AM
We still correct him and take him outside when we catch him peeing in his bellyband. We have done that all along.

He had to go without it for a while when we were dealing with his infection (so that he would not be re-infected) and it was a nightmare. He ruined a sofa as well as bedding and shoes and he even peed on my brand new laptop.

So at this point, I'd prefer to keep the bellyband on him when he is not in his crate.

July 8th, 2008, 07:02 AM
If you find that you're able to catch him peeing every time when he has his belly band on, I suppose that'll be okay. However, if the band prevents you at times from being able to tell that he's peeing, it may be impossible to housebreak him, since he'll be having successful accidents in the house. And, frankly, I find that owners don't treat accidents with the same urgency when the dog has a diaper or belly band on, so that can slow things down, too!

So, you say that you're supervising him all the time when he's not crated... he'll pee when he's leashed to you? That's pretty unusual... this guy's really confused! So, to be clear, have you been catching and correcting him every time he has an accident except when you're away from home?

How does he react when he's corrected? If you take him outside after a correction, will he finish up when he gets out there?

I don't think there's any other option except crate training for when you're away from home, unless you think he could be closed in a small room and not have accidents or bark... don't know if you've tried that. As far as leaving him in the crate goes, a bark collar will work to get him to stop barking, but it should be considered only after you've tried all of the other methods for acclimating him to the crate and quieting him for the barking in the crate. I haven't seen great results with the collars that use ultrasonic sound to correct the dog... if you decide to try one of those, be sure you buy it someplace that will allow you to return it if it doesn't work! There are collars that use a citronella spray that sometimes work, but, in my experience, they break pretty easily, so I usually don't recommend them. If used properly, collars that use electric stimulation are effective, but they're not appropriate for all dogs. If you feel that you have no other choice but to use a bark collar, I strongly recommend having Ollie evaluated by a trainer to be sure it's an appropriate method for him.

As far as his stress-related issues go, he'd probably really benefit from some obedience training. Of course, hiring a good private trainer to come to the house is the best way to go, but, if that isn't an option, you should take him to an obedience class or you can work with him on your own... there are plenty of good training books and dvds out there that you can use.

You might want to try the Comfort Zone Plug In, which seems to help some dogs with stress issues. I haven't personally used it, but I've heard good reports from a few clients and it seems to get pretty good reviews online.

Let us know what you decide to do and how it's going...

July 8th, 2008, 08:12 AM
We can tell when he is wetting his bellyband because he will either lift his leg or go into a boy "pee stance". We do tell him "no" and rush him outside, where he finishes up. Yes, he does it in the house right in front of us. Unfortunately, he doesn't give us any warning beforehand-circling or sniffing or anything like that to let us know that he is getting ready to pee.

The correction does not usually stop him from peeing. And without the bellyband, he would often also leave big trails of pee from wherever he is at the time to the door. We have tried noisemakers, (cans with coins) clapping, and of course a stern "NO!" and it usually doesn't seem to be able to get him to stop until he gets a good amount out.

The only smallish room we have to leave him in would be the bathroom. I imagine he would bark if left in there, and its still large enough that he could have an accident in there and there would still be enough room for him that it wouldn't bother him. I would leave him in there, but I am also concerned that he would scratch up the door.

As far as other obedience training goes, he is pretty good about pretty much everything except for the accidents. But it can't hurt to brush up on some obedience training, so I'll try that as well.

I will look into the Comfort Zone Plug In. It sure can't hurt either.

Thanks for all of your ideas. After more than 6 months of this, with no apparent progress, I am willing to try pretty much anything!

July 8th, 2008, 08:33 AM
So, just to be absolutely clear, when you say he'll go right in front of you, does that mean he'll go when he's in the room with you or when you're holding his leash and he's right next to you?

Is he drinking excessive amounts of water? It seems strange that he's peeing so frequently and that he doesn't stop when corrected... typically, that doesn't happen with adult dogs unless they have REALLY full bladders.

When you take him outside, does he seem to do a full pee or does he just do those little male dog squirts here and there when he's out?

July 8th, 2008, 08:54 AM
He has done both, pees in front of us when we are in the same room, and when he is hooked to the sofa and we are next to him on the sofa. Oh, he has also peed on the bed when he was up there with us, too.

He does drink a lot of water. I have a feeling that is also anxiety related. This is one area where we are still trying to figure out whats best and it does get trickier because we have another dog as well.

We have tried to restrict his water intake. One of the vet techs we talked to suggested that restricting his water only made him want to drink it all up once he finally had access to it so we have tried giving him more access as well.

The vet said that a dog his size should have access to to 2 liters of water a day. (obviously more when he is exercising or when its hot.) Its hard to judge how much he gets exactly because of our other dog.

So we are trying to keep his water intake in check without restricting it too much...we do take the bowl away from him about 90 mins before we have to leave him alone for a while and before bedtime. And I also try to make sure he gets out about a half hour after he gets a really big drink.

When we take him out, he often does really long full pees and does a bunch of smaller squirts as well.

July 8th, 2008, 09:21 AM
If you suspect he's a stress drinker, you may want to try using a dog water bottle for him... it's like one of those hanging water bottles you'd use in a hamster cage, but bigger. If you're concerned the dogs won't get enough water from the water bottle, you can provide a bowl a couple of times a day and give them access to the bottle only for the rest of the day. This should help him to stop the stress-slurping, which should cut down on his need to pee.

Does he like to chew? With some stressed out dogs, you can prevent the zillion trips to the water bowl by providing him with gratifying things to chew when he's stressed (rawhides, bully sticks, etc.).

I'm assuming you've had a full vet check to make sure he has a clean bill of health, right? I'd be sure to have a blood panel to make sure there are no underlying health issues contributing to this problem.

He's not currently on any medications, right? Some meds can cause excessive drinking/peeing.

Since much of the housebreaking problem sounds like it may be caused by the stress problem, you might want to give anxiety meds another shot. I know the first round made him sick, but you may have success if you try another med, experiment with the dosage and experiment with the timing of giving him the meds (with meals, on an empty stomach, etc.). You might also ask your vet if giving an anti-nausea med along with the anxiety med would be an option. Of course, making sure he gets sufficient exercise and practice on his obedience training are also important for managing stress.

For now, what I'd suggest at the moment is having him on leash and connected to you (you're holding the leash, sitting on it or having it tied to your beltloop or around your waist) at all times when you're at home. To assist in trying to figure out what's going on, keep a written potty schedule (http://www.thehousebreakingbible.com/training/potty-schedule.htm)... that way, you can post his schedule for a few days so we can better assess what's happening.

July 8th, 2008, 10:27 AM
I'm still concerned that there may be some underlying health issue with Ollie. Most dogs pee a few times a day and have no problem "holding it" for 10-12 hours (if people sleep in or whatever). I've never had a dog that wanted to pee every few hours, which is what it sounds like Ollie is up to. If he was marking, he could do that very frequently, but then he would be producing just small squirts and he would stop if you corrected him, not continue peeing all the way out the door- that sounds like he desperately needs to empty that bladder.

I agree with Rebecca on a really thorough work up at the vet's, if you haven't done that already. I would also recommend a drastic change in diet. I know of many dogs that get really sick when they eat grain. Switched to a raw diet of meats, fruits and veggies a myriad of health problems just disappear. My dogs all have diarrhea on and off when on any commercial dog food I've tried. If I switch them to raw, it completely disappears. I've known dogs with chronic UTIs that clear up as long as they eat no grain. Ditto ear infections and allergies resulting in severe itching and skin problems.

Before deciding on a diet, you may want to do some research on illnesses specific to German Shepherds. There are many illnesses common to GSDs, but I'm not sure what they are- I would recommend finding a GSD specific forum and asking on there if anyone has had these kinds of problems.

Since it sounds like stress may be a major contributing factor, I would certainly try to find something that he can tolerate that reduces his stress. Kava kava is definitely effective against stress (I know- I've tried it :)) and valerian is a muscle relaxant that does help, but more by making you feel relaxed. St Johns Wort is widely used in Europe in the places where Americans use Prozac- for anxiety and depression. If the drugs the vet gives are totally intolerable for Ollies delicate system, maybe he could handle a liquid version of one of the above herbal remedies?

Finally, I have found that most dogs that refuse to be crated respond really well to a slow consistent program. I start by teaching them to stay in an open crate as an obedience exercise using treats and later on leash correction. (You can use half of a plastic crate in the beginning to make the training easier.) Then I have them practice staying in there while I am home and insist that they do that with the door open. I start to feed them only in the crate- if they don't eat, I take the food away and try again later, even if I have to hand feed them treats for meals for a while. This really goes a long way towards convincing dogs that the crate is a great place to be- it's the only place in the house with food in it.

Once they can stay there for 30-60 minutes at a time, I start shutting the door when I'm home. If they bark, I open the door and correct them (with the leash) if they come out. When it is clear to the dog that you are the one insisting they stay in there, most dogs totally chill out and accept it. They usually bark so that you will come rescue them. Once they see that that is not how it's going to work, there isn't any reason to bark.

This kind of training is not going to work overnight, and you will probably need the help of a trainer to get the obedience training part done, but it would be well worth the time and money. I think crate training may be your only hope for getting Ollie to learn to hold it. This assumes, of course, that you are absolutely sure that a health issue is not causing the problem. If he can't physically hold it, a crate is not going to help him.

July 8th, 2008, 01:38 PM
According to the vet, there is no medical reason he can't (or won't) hold his bladder longer. He does sleep in his crate, and does not have accidents in there, so he can hold it at least for the 8 hours we are sleeping. But the vet said when we sleep, our systems slow down, allowing him to hold it better without needing a middle of the night trip outside.

I tried to find out (unsuccessfully) about his situation before he wound up in his foster home. I imagine he was given up because of this issue and that he may have had 4 years of just doing his business wherever, whenever he wanted. Or who knows, he may have even primarily been an outdoor dog and is not used to having specific places where he is allowed to do his business and other places where its not allowed.

When he was being fostered, he was left in his crate for almost the entire day. (poor boy!) so its no wonder he doesn't like being left in there when he probably thinks he won't be getting out again for a long, long time.

He is eating Nutro Natural Choice chicken, rice and oatmeal formula for sensitive stomachs and he seems to be doing overall better on that than when he was eating the same food as our other dog (except for the vomiting & diarrhea when he was on his anti-anxiety meds)

My fiance went so far as to rig a water jug with a tube that gradually dripped into their water bowl-so that they had some access to water that way-in addition to being offered water with their meals and the tube kept coming undone so we abandoned that...but I just came across something that suggested using ice cubes in their bowls that accomplishes the same thing, so we are gonna try that to make sure they have some water, but he doesn't get too much.

We have not really ever given him rawhides because they make our other dog sick. But since he ignores his kong while he is in his crate, I can see if a rawhide or something like that might be more appealing to him while he is in his crate-where his sister can't get to it!. (And hope that they don't disagree with his tummy!)

I recently started keeping a log of his accidents but its not as detailed as the example you provided and I am not logging the times he goes out etc. So I'll expand on that.

So in addition to that, plus the additional training and trying some sort of herbal relaxer, we have some things to work with and HOPEFULLY they will do the trick!

Thanks again for your help!

July 8th, 2008, 02:48 PM
When you keep your schedule, I'm going to ask that you add one more detail to it... can you indicate on the schedule whether his pees are big pees (where he seems like he empties out his bladder) or little pees (just a squirt or an attempt at a full pee where he got distracted or startled and stopped peeing)? The more detail we have about the quantity of his pees (and why he stops without emptying in the case of distraction, etc.), the better.

It would probably be a big help if you could allow him access to rawhides or some kind of chew thing all the time... is there anything your other dog's tummy can tolerate? Bully sticks might be worth a try. I also think it's a great idea to have something of high value that he gets only when he's in his crate and you're leaving the house... have you been stuffing the kong with peanut butter, canned dog food, etc. and freezing it before you give it to him? If not, give that a try... most dogs won't ignore that! Even if he ignores it because he's stressed the first few times, if you take it away when you take him out of the crate and only give it back when he goes back in, he'll most likely eventually give in and stop ignoring it, since that's his only chance to have access to it.

I'm not sure if I've seen in any of your posts yet if he'll pee in the house when he's attached to you with the leash... can you let us know?

July 24th, 2008, 05:22 AM

I just wanted to check in and report on Ollie's progress (or actually lack of progress...)

I have tried to limit his water intake a bit better, and it works better on some days than others. I have also started adding Rescue Remedy to his food, and it really has not made a noticeable difference. I also started feeding his breakfast a bit later. He now gets his breakfast right before I leave, (about noon). This has helped prevent most of the pooping while I am gone. On a positive note, he has rung the bell several times...still not sure if its only coincidental, but I take it as a good sign. :)

He is still wetting in his bellyband while I am gone on most days. He has occasional accidents in his bellyband while someone is home-mostly in the evening.

So, after thinking about his issues, and knowing that so much of his behavior is anxiety related, is umbilical cord training just confusing him even more and making the separation anxiety even worse?

The form of umbilical cord training we were doing is hooking his leash up to the sofa, and he comes with us when we get up. Even tho I have not actually attached his leash to my belt or anything, he is never out of our sight, even if he is not physically attached to us. That is mostly because he doesn't want to be left alone. He follows me wherever I go and follows so closely, he is always stepping on the back of my slippers, and bumping into me with his wet nose. (heh)

I was recently at the vet with my other dog, and one of the vet techs there who also has and trains German Shepherds has been going thru this whole ordeal with me. She said that I need to "build his confidence" and make him more comfortable with being alone...the question is how do I do that and constantly keep an eye on him to make sure we catch and correct his accidents?

July 24th, 2008, 02:29 PM
Well, sounds like there's been a bit of progress in a couple of areas, so at least that's something!

I've asked a couple of times about whether he'll have accidents if you're holding the leash or if he's attached to you with the leash (tied to your beltloop, etc.). As I look over your posts, I still haven't found that answer to that question, so can you let us know?

I still think you're going to need to be able to leave him crated when you're away from home to resolve his potty issues. It would be worthwhile to hire a trainer to at least help you with acclimating him to the crate and teaching him not to bark if he's confined.

Working on some obedience training will be a great confidence builder for Ollie. I know you said he's good with all of that, but I'd teach him some new stuff or work on improving what he already knows... I'd do at least two obedience sessions with him daily.

Your question about the umbilical cord training worsening his separation anxiety is a good one. I think there's a slight risk of that, but with your current inability to crate him, the only way we can prevent/catch accidents is with the constant, close supervision of umbilical cord training. His potty issue doesn't seem to be related to anxiety about being left alone (since he doesn't soil his crate when you're gone and he has accidents when you're there), and, to me, working out the housebreaking problem by any means necessary would be the #1 priority. So, I'd continue with the umbilical cord training and work on other angles to address the separation anxiety (obedience training, crate acclimation/short periods left alone in the crate, working with a trainer, meds, etc.).

If you get a chance, how about posting a week of his written potty schedule? I know it's a bit of a pain, but it will really help us to get a better feel for what's going on with him.

In the meantime, try to focus on the improvements he's made... it seems like it's going to be a long, slow road with him, but at least the improvements are proof you're headed in the right direction! :)

July 24th, 2008, 03:46 PM
Sorry, I thought I answered this already. We have never done the type of umbilical training where he is attached to us. I hook his leash up to the sofa and unhook him when I leave the room and he follows me. So no, he has never wet his bellyband when he is attached to someone, because he has never been attached that way. As I said, he is never out of sight because he literally follows me everywhere.

His leash is left on him to be able grab him and rush him outside when he needs it.

Unfortunately, I cannot afford to hire a trainer.

We have been catching and (trying to) correct his accidents. At least the ones he has when we are home. We have been doing that literally for months now. And he still has not seemed to learn.

I'll be completely honest-I am at my wits end with him. When I have a bit more time, I'll post his typical day.

July 24th, 2008, 04:12 PM
I TOTALLY understand being at your wit's end over this... I deal with tons of dogs with housebreaking issues, and he does sound like a particularly tough case!

The reason I keep bugging you about whether he'll have accidents when he's attached to you is that I suspect that he won't... especially because he keeps his crate clean, so he has some sense of decorum! I'd love for you to try being really hardcore about the umbilical training... hold his leash, sit on it, have it attached to your beltloop, get a slightly longer lead that you can tie around your waist, whatever. Leashed to you in the house at ALL times (except when you're out of the house, of course, in which case you should crate him if at all possible). Yes, it's a pain in the butt, but I think it might be our best chance of conditioning him not to pee in the house.

If we can do that and resolve the issue of him barking in the crate when he's left alone, I think we'll be able to achieve the all-important first step toward having him housebroken... a good long stretch of time where he has no accidents.

July 24th, 2008, 05:45 PM
Here is Ollie's typical day. I have been doing some tinkering with the times a bit in order to find the schedule that works best for him. I don't know if my tinkering has made things worse and it might have been best just to leave him with a set schedule, but honestly, he was having the accidents when things were set as well.

8:00 - quick pee
9:00 -quick pee
10:30 - pick up water
11:30 - 20-30 min walk-he pees and poops, followed by meal
3:30/4:00 - quick pee
5:00 -15-20 min walk-he pees and poops, followed by meal
7:30- quick pee
9:00 -quick pee, pick up water
11: 00- 10 min walk, then into the crate for the night

I recently tried adjusting his morning outings and meal in an attempt to have the pooping inside stop. I used to have him out longer on the 8am walk so that he could poop then, and then give him breakfast right after the walk, but when I did that, he would poop while I was gone. So I have been trying to make him wait to poop and eat until right before I left.

That has worked on most days to stop the pooping, that is unless I have to run out for any amount of time in the morning before he poops. I suppose if I do have to run out in the mornings, I could have him poop before I go, but I am afraid it is just gonna mean he'll poop inside later while I am out working. I hope what I am saying makes sense. I guess these short little trips out are the perfect time to try to get him used to being in the crate alone...

I leave about noon for work and return about 3:30/4:00 He is never really home alone for much longer than that. And his bellyband is still almost always wet when I get home.

If the weather is nice, we'll sometimes go to the dog park in the late afternoon or go for a longer walk in the evenings. And we often go to the park for a hike on the weekends.

My life has pretty much revolved around him and making sure that he is getting outside often enough. Whenever I leave the house, I have to worry about if I am gonna come home to a mess, or that I have to cut my trips short to be back in time for him. In the evenings, when I am in class, or when I work on the weekends my fiance takes him out, so that helps...but since I am the one who works part time, most of it falls on me.

We'd like to go on vacation, or heck even away for a day, and not have to worry about what to do with him. Putting him in a kennel will probably stress him out and make him regress. I have had my mom take him at times so at least he is with someone familiar, but 1) he is a lot of work and its a lot to ask of someone and 2) she works an 8 hr day as well, so even if she wanted to help, she couldn't take him for like a whole week.

So as you can see, we are quite anxious to have this dog housebroken.

I appreciate you taking the time to read all of this and try to come up with a solution for him that will work.

July 25th, 2008, 07:38 AM
Thanks for the additional info. I'm still not clear about when he's having the accidents... are the only accidents the ones you mention that sometimes occur from in the early afternoon in his belly band? One thing I'd try right away is taking up his water earlier than 10:30 if you leave at noon, which might help to eliminate the accidents while you're gone. Try 9:30 and see if it helps. If he's really thirsty after his walk at 11:30, I'd give him an ice cube or a couple of tablespoons of water, but that's it. Of course, any time you're limiting water, you should make sure he has sufficient opportunities to drink at other times of the day.

If you have the time and inclination, post his actual potty schedule, including all accidents, etc. (see our written potty schedule article (http://www.thehousebreakingbible.com/training/potty-schedule.htm)), so we can see where the accidents are happening and get more detail about what's going on. In addition to the info in the schedule shown in the article, let us know which pees are short squirts and which are full pees.

July 1st, 2009, 02:22 PM
Hello there! It's a whole year later and believe it or not, I am still having issues with Ollie. :(

Since I last posted I took Ollie back to the vet again to rule out any medical issues that are causing his problem. He was checked for everything including diabetes, and they even checked the size of his bladder to see if it was normal (it is) he got a clean bill of health again, so they say his issue is behavioral.

Ollie HAS made a lot of progress. He has learned to ring the bell to let me know he needs to go out. He even wakes me up to let him out if he needs it! And he has at times gone for weeks without a single accident. :) But there are periods where he regresses as well. And he is not always consistent about letting me know he needs to go out. He'll let me know about 95% of the time, and the rest he'll just pee wherever he happens to be at the moment.

I still take him out A LOT-pretty much once an hour when I am home.

I have a guess as to what may have made him backslide a bit and I am not sure what to do about it. I am a student and sometimes my schedule changes with the start of a new semester and I think that change might be triggering a change in his behavior. I am still not away from him for more than a few hours at a time, so he SHOULD be able to hold it but I guess he has other ideas!

So I still need some help dealing with times when my schedule might change and set him off, that 5% of the time when he doesn't let me know he has to go out.

It's really baffling that he can do so well for weeks at a time and then slide right back into accident mode. Any thoughts?

July 1st, 2009, 03:10 PM
Oh another thing I thought I'd mention. The only other possible trigger for Ollie's backslide that I can think of is that we had been getting a TON of rain for months where I live. Thunderstorms too. So he hadn't been getting out for as long as usual on some of his walks. And like most dogs he hates thunderstorms. The rain hasn't been as much of a problem lately but that might have something to do with it.

July 2nd, 2009, 08:54 AM
Well, glad to hear that at least you've had a lot of progress with Ollie!

I'd still recommend keeping a written potty schedule for a while, which may help you to nail down a pattern to his accidents that you're not seeing yet.

If you're able to kind of predict when his accidents are likely to happen (schedule changes, thunderstorms, etc.), you might try crating or confining him when he's unsupervised at those times to prevent accidents.

Lots of dogs have housebreaking problems when it rains, so that part isn't unusual. I think a lot of that comes from US not wanting to stay out in the rain and our dogs are just following our lead. I'm a big believer in busting out the ol' rain boots and umbrella and walking the dog in the rain, playing with him in the yard in the rain, etc... that desensitizes him to the whole icky, rainy, wet weather issue and should help him to start emptying out when you take him out in the rain.

Another option is to assume he's dying to get back inside when it's raining and use going back into the house as a reward for going potty outside. To do this, you have to stay outside with him until he finally goes, then praise him and run back into the house. This is a fairly miserable process in the beginning, since you'll likely have a bit of a standoff, but dogs tend to catch on to it pretty quickly and become very motivated to go potty outside right away when the weather's bad.

If possible, you should also try to have a covered potty area for him on those rainy days... that can help a lot!

July 21st, 2009, 06:58 PM
Hello again, if you've had a chance to look at my past posts about Ollie, keeping him confined or crated is really not an option.

The whole problem with Ollie is that his accidents are unpredictable. He does have some patterns (like having to pee right after he eats) and I make sure to head those off. The other ones are completely unpredictable. Trust me, I have spent countless hours analyzing this.

Sometimes the accidents happen in the morning. Sometimes in the afternoon, sometimes in the evening.

Here is his typical schedule:

We get up at around 7 am, he goes out for a quick pee and I give him water. Sometime between 7 and 10 he goes again for another quick pee, I take him for about a 1/2 hr walk (he poops on this walk) I feed him and then he goes out for another quick pee before I leave for class at 10.

I get back home from class & work sometime between 3-4 pm. He goes out for a quick pee as soon as I get home, and gets more water and then another quick pee before I take a shower. (He'll often pee on the rug when I am in the shower...) I leave for class again at 5:30 and I let him out for another quick pee before I go.

My mom gives him dinner and takes him out again for a little walk (where he usually poops again) around 6:30. I get home from class around 9 and he goes out again-I try to get him out for 10-15 mins. And then for the last time around 10:30.

I count at least 10 times that he goes out. If he rings the bell he goes out even more than that. I can't let him out any more often than I already do.

My schedule is going to change again in the fall...and once I am done with school and don't have my mom around and a schedule where I can be in and out all day I have no idea what I am going to do with him.

I don't even know how he has that much to pee out because we try to limit his water intake. I have no idea why he has to pee so much-it seems physically impossible. I am ready to rip my hair out over the whole thing.

I was trying not to keep him in diapers anymore, but I don't see any other option. I love this dog to pieces, but I can't deal with this problem anymore and I need a solution that is going to work once I am done with school.

July 23rd, 2009, 08:30 AM
Sounds like you're taking PLENTY of potty trips with Ollie. When are the accidents occurring? If you could post a couple of days of really detailed schedule info that shows exactly when he's pottying outside and having accidents inside, it might help...

I may have asked you this before, but is there any possibility of having a dog door for him? That can be a real lifesaver in situations like yours.

Have you been able to catch and correct (http://www.thehousebreakingbible.com/training/housebreaking-corrections.htm) him for having accidents? Sometimes that's the key to getting the accidents to stop. If he goes on the floor and gets the same kind of relief he gets outside, he won't have any inhibition about going in the house, so you need to make it unpleasant for him to empty out inside.

July 24th, 2009, 08:01 AM
Unfortunately, no, since I live in an apartment I can't have him use a doggie door.

Most of his accidents now happen during the long stretch when I am gone and during that hour or so after I leave until my mom gets home. He still sometimes has random accidents at other times too but those are the big ones.

Like I said, I am trying to limit his water intake (he is obsessed with drinking tons of water) but I don't want to limit it any further because I don't want him to get dehydrated. I may have to play around with that a little more though.

We do catch and correct the accidents that happen when we see them. Thankfully most of the time when we are home he does let us know if he needs to go out and we know to let him out about a 1/2 hr after he gets a big drink. So now its mostly a matter of stopping the accidents when no one is home.

I don't understand why has has gone for weeks at a time with no accidents and then he regresses. He has proven that he can go for a few hours during the day with no accidents in the past so I don't understand why its different now.

July 26th, 2009, 10:57 AM
It seems like you are doing about everything you can do to improve this situation. In my experience, dogs that are not crate trained often don't learn to "hold it". It sounds to me like this may be what is going on with Ollie. Since you've decided that crate training isn't an option, you're left with no ability to teach Ollie to hold it when you are gone. Since you can't use a doggie door either, I think your best option is an indoor potty- he won't have to hold it and you'll have an easy place to clean when he does go. Have you considered or tried using papers, pads or an indoor potty box?

July 29th, 2009, 09:25 AM
I don't think its just a matter of him not being able/not learning to hold it, because he has gone for weeks at a time with no accidents. So he CAN hold it at times.

This morning he peed on the sofa. He was just laying there, then he got up and there was a big puddle. (not the first time that has happened either) I didn't have class this morning and he kept ringing the bell earlier so he had been out about 4 times before that.

Yesterday he had no accidents. The day before, and the one before that, he wet his diaper when I was gone for the long stretch. The day before that he peed on my mom's bed during the hour or so after I left in the evening before she got home.

I have recently gone back to using the diaper only when I am gone (after he peed on my mom's bed), but after this morning I think he is going to go back to wearing it all the time.

I am really puzzled because as I said before he has been able to go for weeks with no accidents before and now all of the sudden he went back to having an accident almost every day again.

I appreciate all of the help you guys have been trying to give, but he really may be beyond help. I guess I am gonna have to decide if I am just going to deal with a dog who wears diapers/has accidents or if I am going to give him up and try to place him in a home where he can be a mostly outdoor dog. He has peed/lifted his leg on pretty much all of our furniture at this point and I have shampooed the rug so many times...as much as I love him this is very hard to deal with.

July 29th, 2009, 09:36 AM
I don't think he's beyond help, so I hope you decide to keep him and continue working on his housebreaking.

Without seeing the dog and working with you personally, it's hard to figure out exactly what's going on with him. I'd suggest that you try working with a local trainer that's experienced with housebreaking issues so you can get some hands-on help. Yes, you'll have to spend some money to do it, but it'll probably be cheaper than a lifetime of dog diapers!

That being said, it sounds VERY strange that he seems to be having accidents while he's laying down on the couch. That tends to be indicative of a health issue, since it was most likely an involuntary pee. I've never seen a dog that does that without having a health issue. A health issue would also explain why he was doing well with holding it, then started having problems again. Definitely something to ask your vet about.

July 29th, 2009, 01:05 PM
I don't think he's beyond help, so I hope you decide to keep him and continue working on his housebreaking.

Without seeing the dog and working with you personally, it's hard to figure out exactly what's going on with him. I'd suggest that you try working with a local trainer that's experienced with housebreaking issues so you can get some hands-on help. Yes, you'll have to spend some money to do it, but it'll probably be cheaper than a lifetime of dog diapers!

That being said, it sounds VERY strange that he seems to be having accidents while he's laying down on the couch. That tends to be indicative of a health issue, since it was most likely an involuntary pee. I've never seen a dog that does that without having a health issue. A health issue would also explain why he was doing well with holding it, then started having problems again. Definitely something to ask your vet about.

I thought that it was strange that he would be laying down and get up with a puddle as well. He's done that several times before (on the sofa and on the rug) and I have mentioned it to the vet. I suspected a medical problem too, because its just not normal for a dog to have to go so much. Again, he's been given a clean bill of health and the vets insists that the problem is behavioral. I've spent a fortune at the vet trying to find the root of the problem, and he had every test and even x-rays. He's seen every vet in the practice and they all say the same thing-that there is nothing medical causing the issue.

I have tired talking to local trainers and they pretty much suggest all of the typical stuff that I have already tried.

The vet did give me the name of a veterinary behaviorist, someone who does medical as well as training/behavioral issues and she is very expensive (and I am a student which basically means I am broke...) but I am probably going to have to find a way to get Ollie in to see her. If she can solve the problem then she is worth the price. (Besides the diapers, Natures Miracle is expensive too!)

He is such a sweet, good dog (except for this major issue...) and I would be heartbroken if I had to give him up.

Thanks again so much for the help you tried to give. I know it's not easy to do from behind the computer without actually working with the dog.