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Old 03-24-2007, 10:24 AM   #1
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Default Info: Remedial Housetraining for the Adult Dog

Dogs are normally "clean" in that their natural choice is to pee and poo far away from where they eat, sleep or play. However, if you have rescued an adult dog, there is a good chance that you have a dog who has suffered from training mistakes of the previous owners.

Peeing/Pooping in the crate/cage

One of the worst mistakes people make with crate/cage training is to think of the crate/cage as a convenient container to put their dog in (even a tiny puppy) when they cannot or will not watch, play with, or provide enough potty breaks. When they do pay attention to their 3 month old puppy it is only to wonder why it has peed and pooped in the crate when all they did was leave it there for 8 hrs . Puppies cannot hold it anywhere near that long and the result is usually that the poor dog has no choice but to soil the crate/cage. Worse, the dog has now become desensitized to peeing/pooping in the sleep/eat/play area and housebreaking becomes that much harder. As far as the dog is concerned, the crate/cage is the pee/poo area. Dogs who have been pushed into this state need remedial learning to correct habits that they have had for months. Dogs love routine and hate change and once they have bad potty habits it can take weeks if not months to correct them.

Dogs like this need remedial housebreaking. The best option is to keep an eye on the dog at all times. If he/she goes or starts to go in the house, get him outside ASAP. And no scolding, just get him/her outside in a businesslike way. Bribe him/her shamelessly when he /she does his business outside. Find whatever treat, toy or scratch behind the ears makes his day and when he poops outside, be his cheerleader and the split second he is finished give him the snausage or blue cheese or whatever it takes.

If you must use a crate, one trick that has worked is to put the dog in a crate just big enough for him/her but barely big enough to turn around in. This is NOT a cage/crate to leave your dog in all day for. It is for training purposes only, and meant to be used for short times. Even a dog who will pee/poo in an adequately sized crate/cage will not do so if he/she will end up lying on it. If you ultimately want to use a crate/cage properly, you can leave the dog in an undersized crate for a limited period of time to get him/her used to NOT peeing or pooing when in a crate/cage. Later on you can move back to a normal sized crate and the dog will have been re-trained.

Another trick which has been found to work is to sprinkle kibble on the crate floor. This is of course AFTER the crate has been thoroughly cleaned with an enzymatic cleaner. Do not use any kind of bedding or cushions which might absorb the waste-the dog will understand fouling in there will mean lying in it.

Peeing/pooping in the house

If you are not using a crate/cage and your dog pees/poos in your house - at night, when you are not watching, or even right in front of you, there are several options for remedial housebreaking.

1) Have your dog sleep in your bed with a leash wrapped around you. That way you can feel when the dog is about to wake up for a "bathroom break". Get up and go outside, so you can reinforce the "outside=good" concept. No it is not fun, but this method is used by fosters to re-train adult dogs so that they can be adoptable. Be prepared for several trips outside during the night.

2) If you don't want the dog in your bed, leash him/her to a table or your bed in your bedroom with a bell on the leash. Give him a rug to sleep on that is just big enough for him to fit on. The bell will alert you to the need for a midnight potty break and you can escort him/her outside.

3) Another method is to use the undersized crate as described above. This has worked to get a dog to get through the night with no surprises in the morning, but again, this is not long-term, only to re-train the dog not to need to go in the middle of the night.

4) If your dog is messing in a guest room or laundry room, it could be that your dog has decided that this is an 'abandoned' part of the house and doesn't really belong to the living areas. In that case, if you make a point of using that room together with your dog by playing with him and giving hi a treat or two in there, he will come to think of it as being 'off-limits' as his potty area.

And remember that dogs do not feel anger over housetraining or pee/poo out of spite. They do what they have learned works for them.
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Last edited by skunkstripe; 09-09-2008 at 12:41 PM.. Reason: typos

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