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Thread: What else can I do?

  1. #1

    Default What else can I do?

    Hello,

    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!
    Last edited by TK2008; July 7th, 2008 at 03:28 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default

    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 and umbilical cord training. 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. 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, 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. 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...
    Rebecca
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  3. #3
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    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.
    Rebecca
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  4. #4

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    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.
    Dana

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  5. #5

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    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?

  6. #6
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    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 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...
    Rebecca
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  7. #7

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    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.

  8. #8
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    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...
    Rebecca
    Please help us to continue to provide this free source of housebreaking information by bookmarking our products page
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  9. #9

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    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!

  10. #10
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    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?
    Rebecca
    Please help us to continue to provide this free source of housebreaking information by bookmarking our products page
    and buying your pet supplies through our product partners!

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