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Thread: Ultimate Housebreaking Challenge!!!

  1. #1
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    Default Ultimate Housebreaking Challenge!!!

    Time to put my money where my mouth is. I figure if I'm going to preach the gospel of housebreaking, I can't turn away a little dog in need just because she's never been housebroken at 8 1/2 years of age!

    My husband and I have added a new member to our family. We just adopted a tiny toy poodle, and she may be my biggest housebreaking challenge yet! I figured I'd post here about our progress as I housebreak her... if I can manage to pull this one off, I hope it'll be inspiration to those of you out there that are dealing with your own housebreaking challenges.

    I came across this little cutie online... her owner passed away and the owner's niece was finding good homes for her aunt's dogs. Little "Scooter" was the only one left, since there probably aren't too many people out there looking for older, handicapped, unhousebroken dogs!

    So, here's what I knew about Scooter when I agreed to take her, sight unseen... she was born with some kind of problem with her rear end that caused her to have limited use of her back legs, she just had all of her teeth removed, she was either deaf or had very limited hearing. She had never been housebroken, but she was sweet and spunky and was able to "scoot" around and keep up with her late owner's other dogs.

    My biggest concern was whether Scooter was unhousebroken or incontinent and the late owner's niece wasn't sure. With a birth defect that affected the functionality of her rear end, I thought there was a fairly good chance she might just not have the physical ability to control her bodily functions. So, with fingers crossed, my husband and I made a leap of faith and made arrangements for Scooter to be transported from the other end of the state.

    We agreed to take her on a trial basis, but the trial period lasted about 2 seconds... we fell in love with this little cutie the moment we saw her! She was quiet and subdued after her long car ride, and the folks who brought her to us told us she hadn't peed or pooped all day, in spite of their efforts to get her to go. Oh, boy.

    So, time for some planning. I decided to use a housebreaking method we call "the puppy airlift" for the first few days of training. With this method, the dog isn't allowed to touch the floor in the house... her feet only touch the ground outside so she won't have a chance to have accidents. Not a problem, since she's so cute we just wanted to hold her all the time, anyway! We made a few trips out to the grass, and she didn't go the first few times, but within an hour of being at our house, the little cutie gave us a nice, long pee out in the yard... YAY!

    Nighttime posed a bit of a problem. The other thing I was told about Scooter is that she wasn't used to being confined, so putting her in a crate overnight didn't seem like a great idea, since I hadn't had time to properly acclimate her to being crated. We decided to go with Dana's favorite method... she slept in our bed with a leash on and I tied the leash to my wrist to make sure she didn't fall off the bed or wander to the foot of the bed to have an accident. Not the best couple of night's sleep I've ever had, I admit, but I'm willing to go to extraordinary lengths for housebreaking!

    The best news in this whole situation is that it turns out Scooter isn't incontinent... even though she looks like she has no control of her back end, she's been perfect on her new housebreaking program! Today's day three, and we've had NO accidents! Of course, if she was allowed freedom in the house, I'm sure she'd be having accidents all over the place, but I expect her housebreaking to be a 3 - 6 month program, due to her age and physical condition, and we're off to a great start!!

    Look for updates to come... including Scooter's new name! We want to change it, but no official decision yet.

    Some photos below... one pre-haircut, one post-haircut that shows her walking on her front legs (the only ones that work properly!)... crazy, huh?
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Rebecca
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  2. #2
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    We still haven't picked a new name for Scooter, but everything else is going great! She's warming up to us and she's getting more confident and playful. We've been acclimating her to a soft-sided crate (not a problem since she has no teeth to chew her way out!), and she's doing fine with it. We've got a super-comfy dog bed in there for her, so she just snuggles up and gets comfortable, unless she's in the mood to be a little sassy... we've had a few minor protests in the form of scratching at the side of the crate, but nothing too bad.

    She was left home alone in her crate briefly today for the first time and she was a good girl... no accidents, and she went potty right away after we got her out of her crate and took her to the grass. She's getting pretty good on her potty trips about pottying promptly if she has to go... if she doesn't need to go, she waddles on over and looks up, wiggling her little tail to say, "Pick me up!".

    The biggest issue I'm having with her training is that it's hard to tell when she's going potty... her funny little walk makes things a bit tricky, since she's always in a semi-squatting position that looks like she's ready to poo! I've been allowing her a bit of closely supervised floor time in the house after she pees outside and I can never tell if she's just moving around or if she's trying to poo! No accidents yet, so I think we must be doing a decent job of getting her out when she needs to go, but I've been rushing her outside 10 times a day thinking she's about to poo, only to realize it was just her funny little waddle tricking me again!

    She's an amazing little creature, really... seems happy as a clam to waddle around or walk on her front legs with her rear legs up in the air. She's figured out I'm her mommy and follows me around whenever she can. If I leave the house and come home, she gets excited and wiggly and climbs up on me and clings to me like a little baby monkey. I'm in love!

    Today she had her first official bathing/brushing session and we discovered something shocking... she has no opening into either of her ear canals. I lifted the ear flaps up to clean her ears, and it was just blank under there. Apparently her ears are just for show! We were told when we were adopting her that the vet said that she was deaf, but the owner believed she had some hearing. This would explain why there might have been some confusion, since she probably has functioning ears, but the lack of a hole into the ear canal allows her to only hear loud noises. My little mutant!

    Still not a single attempt to have an accident in the house... such a good girl! And it probably doesn't hurt that my husband and I are being good, too... she's very closely supervised or in her crate at all times, and I think that will need to continue for quite a while, but it'll be worth it to have her be adorable AND housebroken!

    More to come...
    Rebecca
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  3. #3
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    We're moving right along with our housebreaking. Still no accidents, thanks to my husband's quick reaction time! As I mentioned, the biggest challenge in housebreaking this little dog is that she stands and walks in a crouched position, so you can never tell if she's getting ready to poo or not! Yesterday, my husband, Omar, was in charge of watching Scooter, and her stance looked extra suspicious... he grabbed her and ran her outside and she pooped as soon as she hit the grass. Close call! But I never worry too much about attempted accidents if the dog is caught in the act... that's always a good opportunity to teach the dog she's not supposed to do that in the house. It's the accidents you don't catch and correct that really mess up a housebreaking program, so we just have to be sure there aren't any of those!

    We're also struggling with another element that can make housebreaking difficult, especially with a spoiled little foo-foo dog like Scooter... RAIN! She definitely isn't amused by inclement weather and isn't thrilled to have to go outside when it's cold, wet and windy. She's still managing to go potty outside... she just isn't happy about it! And neither are we... it's ugly out there!!
    Rebecca
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  4. #4
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    I'm having a very HAPPY DAY in my housebreaking program! Today, for the first time, my new dog let me know she had to go outside to poop! She was sitting on the couch next to me and she jumped off (yes, she can jump off the couch and land on her two good legs!), walked over to me and scratched at my leg. I wondered what she was doing, since when she's done that before, it means "I want to come up on the couch!", but she had already been on the couch.

    I thought that maybe she was trying to tell me something, so we went outside and she pooped immediately... YAY!! Maybe there's hope for the old gal yet!!

    Another news flash... she has a new name, I think. We were hoping to name her something clever or ironic, but it looks like her name's going to be... Teddy. Cutesy and boring, I know, but she's such a little teddy bear that we all got in the habit of calling her Teddy, so there you have it.

    Such a good girl!!
    Rebecca
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  5. #5

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    Glad the poor little creature finally has a name. I think Teddy suits her (and her black little button eyes) very well. And, glad to hear that she is not all for show- there's a clever little brain in that pretty face, too! I hope she is helping you, Omar and Isabella to get over the loss of Smooch. I know she can't replace her, but it sounds like she is keeping you busy and sharing the love.
    Dana

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  6. #6
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    Oops! I had to break out the odor neutralizer for the first time since Teddy's arrival... she tried to pee in the house for the first time today! She only got a couple of drops out before I was able to snatch her up and run her outside, and she finished up once I got her onto the grass, so I'm not terribly concerned.

    She's been doing well the past couple of days with a greater degree of closely supervised freedom, but, after this little incident, I think I'll take a step back for a week or so and allow her to have floor time in the house only for short periods right after she's peed outside.

    On the positive side, she told me again this afternoon that she had to go outside to poo, so I was happy to know it wasn't just a fluke when she did it a couple of days ago!
    Rebecca
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  7. #7
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    Things have been going well with Teddy... she's been great about going potty as soon as she hits the grass and she hasn't made any more attempts to potty in the house. And I'm not sure if it's my imagination, but I'm pretty sure she's gotten even cuter!

    However, we had a little setback today... I came home after a couple of hours away to find that she'd peed in her crate. I'm not sure what happened... it could just have been a fluke, but I'm going to be extra careful to monitor her water intake before I leave her alone in the future and I'm going to start feeding her in her crate, which should be a good way to remind her that her crate isn't a toilet!
    Rebecca
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  8. #8
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    Well, no more accidents in the crate, so I think that peeing incident was just one of those things. We'll continue to be careful about her water intake before crate time, but, otherwise, I think we're in the clear. (I hope I didn't jinx myself by saying that!)

    I'm planning phase two of Teddy's housebreaking... we want her to eventually let herself outside using a doggy door, but that presents some problems. Due to her physical condition, she can't push through our existing dog door and, although she loves showing off that she can get up and down the stairs that lead from our back porch to our yard, we're not comfortable with letting her do it... we're afraid she'll take a tumble.

    So, I've been trying to figure out what to do. We're going to have a ramp from the porch to the yard (Omar found one that had been dumped in an alley yesterday... what are the odds?). I also shopped around online and found a dog door that I think will work for her... it's easy to push and we'll install it right at ground level so she can just walk through instead of needing to hop through the door. It's made to be a door for a dog house, so it just has hanging plastic strips covering the door instead of a heavier one-piece flap like normal dog doors have. I imagine it's going to let some cold air into the house during the winter, but, hey, we live in Southern California... I think we'll survive!
    Rebecca
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  9. #9

    Default house training

    I just joined the group and I just read your post about Scooter. I am adopting a 8 month old puppy tomorrow. The owner/breeder said he was trained to go on a puppy pad. I want to ensure good house training habits right from the start. I would prefer the puppy go outside, not even on the pads. What did you do with the dog when you were not holding him. I'm home most of the day, but I do work a couple hours at night a couple times a week. I would love to hear some suggestions. Thank you, Rachael

  10. #10
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    Hi, Rachel...

    Congrats on getting a new puppy! What kind of dog is it?

    You can definitely train a dog who's trained to use potty pads to go outside only. I'd recommend starting that right away. If the puppy is used to the pads, you may find it helpful in the beginning to put pads down in the outdoor potty area you want him to use.

    Look around on our site and you'll find lots of detailed instructions. I'd recommend that you read The Ten Commandments of Housebreaking, then check out the Crate Training, Puppy Airlift, Umbilical Cord Training and Housebreaking articles. Lots of reading, I know, but it should really help to get you and your new puppy started on the right foot!

    In the first few days of training my dog, when I wasn't holding her she'd be on the couch with me (closely supervised so she wouldn't have accidents) or we'd spend time outside where she could walk around a bit. I then acclimated her to being in a crate when she was left alone, so I could be sure she wouldn't have accidents when I was away from home.

    I hope this helps. If you have any more questions, feel free to post in the "Ask the Trainers" section of the forum.

    Good Luck!
    Rebecca
    Please help us to continue to provide this free source of housebreaking information by bookmarking our products page
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