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Adult Dog Housebreaking Question

DF and I adopted a beautiful girl from the Humane Society this weekend. She's a four year old mix, we're not sure of what but the shelter said probably St. Bernard, Great Pyrenees, and Bernese Mountain Dog. She was a transfer from a different shelter, and they had almost no information on her, including whether she was housetrained or not. A shelter volunteer said she probably was, she didn't really pee or poop in her run at the shelter, but she would go when she was out for a walk.

Since we've had her home, she hasn't pooped at all. Not that concerning, because she hasn't had much of an appetite. The shelter told us to expect this, between the stress and her kennel cough (poor baby). They said it'd be a few days before she's eating normally.

She's only peed once in two days, and it was on the kitchen floor, immediately after bringing her in from a long walk. She's had plenty to drink (she's emptied out her water bowl 2/2.5 times) and when she did pee it was an ALARMINGLY large amount.

All of the housetraining resources I've found online are all about positive reinforcement - when she pees outside, give her tons of praise and love and treats. The problem is, we can't even get her to go outside. We take her out 4-5 times a day, sometimes walks around the neighborhood and sometimes just letting her out at the off-leash dog park. I've also tried taking her to the indoor dog run at our building, it's a turf patch that TONS of the building dogs poop and pee on, so I'm sure it should smell like a bathroom place to her. At this point I'm not quite sure what to do. Any advice from dog owners out there?

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Re: Adult Dog Housebreaking Question

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    sarawifenowsarawifenow member
    First Comment First Anniversary First Answer 5 Love Its
    edited April 2015

    I volunteer at an animal shelter. Similar to the effect that stress has on appetite, stress/transition plays a huge part in bathroom habits.

     

    It can take up to a week for a dog to show "typical" housebroken habits. I say give her some more time. When she does pee in the house again (and it will happen) take her outside. It will begin to help her associate where she should be going. Also, take her out frequently until she develops her own schedule.

     

    Good luck!

     

    ETA: She is precious!

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    I volunteer at an animal shelter. Similar to the effect that stress has on appetite, stress/transition plays a huge part in bathroom habits.

     

    It can take up to a week for a dog to show "typical" housebroken habits. I say give her some more time. When she does pee in the house again (and it will happen) take her outside. It will begin to help her associate where she should be going. Also, take her out frequently until she develops her own schedule.

     

    Good luck!

     

    ETA: She is precious!


    Thank you! This is very helpful. I knew that the stress/change could affect her appetite, so I was trying not to stress about the eating, but I had no idea it could affect her bathroom habits too. We'll give it some time and hopefully our routine will get sorted out.

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    Whatever you do, don't punish her for going to the bathroom inside. The dog can become afraid, and then not go to the bathroom in front of you. She may have been abused too, if you don't have any info on her background. 

    I would be more worried that she isn't going to the bathroom at all, than the fact she's doing it in the house. Are you sure she didn't go when she was off leash?

    Also, I would take her to the vet, even if the humane society had a vet check her out. It's good to just have your own resource. 

    She is so adorable!


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    I would never ever punish her for it. We get the sense that she may have been abused. She's ok once she's comfortable around people, but she cowers and shakes every time someone new tries to pet her, and she won't eat anything out of our hands. She's also really easily startled, especially by car noises (doors slamming, engine revving, horn honks, etc.). :( It makes me so sad, but we're just going to do everything we can to give her the best life possible.

    We have her vet check-up this afternoon, when we got her the Humane Society suggested scheduling one within two weeks of getting her to follow up on the kennel cough.

    The good news is, last night right before bed she pooped at the dog park, and this morning she peed in the turf dog run! I'm hoping we can get her into a good routine and keep this up. We tried to give her treats afterwards both times, but she just wasn't particularly interested. I'm hoping once she starts recovering from being sick, she'll be more food-motivated.

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    I volunteer at an animal shelter. Similar to the effect that stress has on appetite, stress/transition plays a huge part in bathroom habits.

     

    It can take up to a week for a dog to show "typical" housebroken habits. I say give her some more time. When she does pee in the house again (and it will happen) take her outside. It will begin to help her associate where she should be going. Also, take her out frequently until she develops her own schedule.

     

    Good luck!

     

    ETA: She is precious!

    This is what I was going to say, too. Just give her some time to adjust and then go from there. The first time we took big dog to my grandma's lake house, there were tons of dogs and people and a lot going on, and he peed in her house. He NEVER does such a thing, ever. Even when he was a puppy he hardly ever had accidents. The vet said that when dogs get really stressed and/or are in a new place, sometimes it just happens. 

    Beagle, on the other hand, was awful to train. She was having accidents in the house even as an adult dog. I worked with multiple vets and a pro dog trainer and did everything I was supposed to be doing. Lots of positive reinforcement, lots of time outside, lots of walks, crate training, etc. But every so often, she would come in from outside and pee right on the carpet. It was so damn frustrating. 

    One of the things that seemed to help her, actually, was big dog. I got him when beagle was 5, and she follows him outside every time. He pees outside, she pees outside. It's like he showed her the right way to do it. 

    But honestly what helped her the most was a set routine. I always had a crazy school/work schedule from the time I got her, so I tried to have a routine with her but it was impossible to always stay consistent. Now, FI and I both work the standard 8-5. So every day no matter what, she goes out at 7am, 12pm, 5pm, 8pm, and right before bed. She hasn't had an accident in 2 years. She'll even go scratch at the door and nag us to let her out when she has to pee, rather than just strolling down the hallway to pee on the carpet whenever she feels like it. I didn't think it was possible to change the bad habits of an adult dog, but she's done a total 180 and it's awesome. 
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    But honestly what helped her the most was a set routine. I always had a crazy school/work schedule from the time I got her, so I tried to have a routine with her but it was impossible to always stay consistent. Now, FI and I both work the standard 8-5. So every day no matter what, she goes out at 7am, 12pm, 5pm, 8pm, and right before bed. She hasn't had an accident in 2 years. She'll even go scratch at the door and nag us to let her out when she has to pee, rather than just strolling down the hallway to pee on the carpet whenever she feels like it. I didn't think it was possible to change the bad habits of an adult dog, but she's done a total 180 and it's awesome. 
    H and I would love to get a dog, but aren't sure how this would work. Do you go home for lunch everyday? Our jobs probably wouldn't allow us enough time to go home during the day, so we are trying to figure out how we would care for a dog without making them hold it all day until we get home. A doggie-door is the only solution I've come up with.

    What does everyone else do who works 8-5?


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    But honestly what helped her the most was a set routine. I always had a crazy school/work schedule from the time I got her, so I tried to have a routine with her but it was impossible to always stay consistent. Now, FI and I both work the standard 8-5. So every day no matter what, she goes out at 7am, 12pm, 5pm, 8pm, and right before bed. She hasn't had an accident in 2 years. She'll even go scratch at the door and nag us to let her out when she has to pee, rather than just strolling down the hallway to pee on the carpet whenever she feels like it. I didn't think it was possible to change the bad habits of an adult dog, but she's done a total 180 and it's awesome. 
    H and I would love to get a dog, but aren't sure how this would work. Do you go home for lunch everyday? Our jobs probably wouldn't allow us enough time to go home during the day, so we are trying to figure out how we would care for a dog without making them hold it all day until we get home. A doggie-door is the only solution I've come up with.

    What does everyone else do who works 8-5?



    H and I work 9-5 type jobs and our dog is crated during the day. The longest he's in there during the day is 8 1/2 hours and lately that's been the exception. We can't get home on lunch to let him out and he's at the age where he SHOULD be able to hold his pee but our dog doesn't. He's got separation anxiety so he pees (and sometimes poops) during the day while we're gone. He's worked out this trick where he can lift his leg high enough to pee outside the crate so he doesn't have to sit in it all day, even when he was in a tiny crate where he only had enough room to stand up and turn around. We're at a loss but there's not much else we can do. He's fine at night in the crate and can go 10 hours while we sleep without peeing.

    Is there anyway you could get a dog walker to come and let a dog out during the day while you're at work? We don't have that option (tiny town and we don't really know anyone, plus we're too far for anyone we know to come down to our house) but I know a lot of people who have someone come do that. I want to put our dog in doggie daycare but that would require making a lot more money, cause that shit's expensive.

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    But honestly what helped her the most was a set routine. I always had a crazy school/work schedule from the time I got her, so I tried to have a routine with her but it was impossible to always stay consistent. Now, FI and I both work the standard 8-5. So every day no matter what, she goes out at 7am, 12pm, 5pm, 8pm, and right before bed. She hasn't had an accident in 2 years. She'll even go scratch at the door and nag us to let her out when she has to pee, rather than just strolling down the hallway to pee on the carpet whenever she feels like it. I didn't think it was possible to change the bad habits of an adult dog, but she's done a total 180 and it's awesome. 
    H and I would love to get a dog, but aren't sure how this would work. Do you go home for lunch everyday? Our jobs probably wouldn't allow us enough time to go home during the day, so we are trying to figure out how we would care for a dog without making them hold it all day until we get home. A doggie-door is the only solution I've come up with.

    What does everyone else do who works 8-5?



    H and I work 9-5 type jobs and our dog is crated during the day. The longest he's in there during the day is 8 1/2 hours and lately that's been the exception. We can't get home on lunch to let him out and he's at the age where he SHOULD be able to hold his pee but our dog doesn't. He's got separation anxiety so he pees (and sometimes poops) during the day while we're gone. He's worked out this trick where he can lift his leg high enough to pee outside the crate so he doesn't have to sit in it all day, even when he was in a tiny crate where he only had enough room to stand up and turn around. We're at a loss but there's not much else we can do. He's fine at night in the crate and can go 10 hours while we sleep without peeing.

    Is there anyway you could get a dog walker to come and let a dog out during the day while you're at work? We don't have that option (tiny town and we don't really know anyone, plus we're too far for anyone we know to come down to our house) but I know a lot of people who have someone come do that. I want to put our dog in doggie daycare but that would require making a lot more money, cause that shit's expensive.

    Yeah, I'm sure doggie daycare would be super expensive. The dog walker may be an option though!


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    edited April 2015




    But honestly what helped her the most was a set routine. I always had a crazy school/work schedule from the time I got her, so I tried to have a routine with her but it was impossible to always stay consistent. Now, FI and I both work the standard 8-5. So every day no matter what, she goes out at 7am, 12pm, 5pm, 8pm, and right before bed. She hasn't had an accident in 2 years. She'll even go scratch at the door and nag us to let her out when she has to pee, rather than just strolling down the hallway to pee on the carpet whenever she feels like it. I didn't think it was possible to change the bad habits of an adult dog, but she's done a total 180 and it's awesome. 
    H and I would love to get a dog, but aren't sure how this would work. Do you go home for lunch everyday? Our jobs probably wouldn't allow us enough time to go home during the day, so we are trying to figure out how we would care for a dog without making them hold it all day until we get home. A doggie-door is the only solution I've come up with.

    What does everyone else do who works 8-5?

    I work 8-5 and DF works 8-4. So far her schedule has been when we wake up (5:30/6), before we leave for work (7:30/7:45ish), one of us comes home over lunch (11:30/12:30ish, we both only work 10 mins from home), then when DF gets home at 4pm, another after dinner around 7, and then one before bed around 10:30.

    We'll eventually hire a dog walker for the lunch time walk and possibly the early afternoon walk. But according to the shelter, we shouldn't have her around people who deal with a bunch of animals until we're 100% sure she's over the kennel cough. So we're waiting a bit on that. But they're pretty affordable around here, for a 30 min potty break most charge $10-15/walk.

    We also might drop one or two of those once she gets into more of a potty routine. I know 6 walks sounds like kind of a lot, but we just want to give her every opportunity we can to potty outside. Especially until she gets the hang of it.

    ETA: We live in a very large city in a particularly dog-friendly neighborhood (several off-leash parks, miles and miles of trials within walking distance, 4 large apartment complexes that are dog-friendly, etc.), so YMMV with the dog walker availability/prices.

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    But honestly what helped her the most was a set routine. I always had a crazy school/work schedule from the time I got her, so I tried to have a routine with her but it was impossible to always stay consistent. Now, FI and I both work the standard 8-5. So every day no matter what, she goes out at 7am, 12pm, 5pm, 8pm, and right before bed. She hasn't had an accident in 2 years. She'll even go scratch at the door and nag us to let her out when she has to pee, rather than just strolling down the hallway to pee on the carpet whenever she feels like it. I didn't think it was possible to change the bad habits of an adult dog, but she's done a total 180 and it's awesome. 
    H and I would love to get a dog, but aren't sure how this would work. Do you go home for lunch everyday? Our jobs probably wouldn't allow us enough time to go home during the day, so we are trying to figure out how we would care for a dog without making them hold it all day until we get home. A doggie-door is the only solution I've come up with.

    What does everyone else do who works 8-5?
    We got lucky; we both work at the same company and our house is close by, so we go home together every day for lunch and let the dogs out. 

    There have been a few occasions where we weren't able to make it home, so the dogs had to stay in all day which obviously is not ideal and I was not happy about it, but they were fine. They didn't even want to go out when we first got home because they just wanted to play with us first. 

    FSIL has a dog who stays in all day, although she's been looking for a dog walking to stop by around lunch time. 

    When I got big dog, he was a tiny puppy, and I had a job where I couldn't get home for lunch. I hired a friend to come over every day to play with the dogs, feed them lunch, let them out a couple times, etc. It worked out really well, didn't cost much (she tried to not let me pay her but I insisted and told her to at least let me cover gas since she lived across town, so I think I ended up giving her $40 per work week or something?) 

    If doggie daycare is too expensive, you could always ask a friend/neighbor/neighborhood kid you trust or a professional dogwalker to come by once a day. My parents have even hired an employee from the local family-owned petstore to come over and housesit their pets. 
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    When we got our last dog, it took a couple weeks to get her housebroken again.  Lots of standing around outside and positive reinforcement.  I even had a couple times where I stood outside with her for an hour or so, just waiting for her to go.  Then, when she did there were lots of treats or just vigorous petting and calling her "good girl".  She had been abused previously, but within about a week or so she started picking up on the habit of peeing outside. It just took some time and dedication.

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    When we got our last dog, it took a couple weeks to get her housebroken again.  Lots of standing around outside and positive reinforcement.  I even had a couple times where I stood outside with her for an hour or so, just waiting for her to go.  Then, when she did there were lots of treats or just vigorous petting and calling her "good girl".  She had been abused previously, but within about a week or so she started picking up on the habit of peeing outside. It just took some time and dedication.


    That's the tough part, because she has zero interest in treats or toys. So the positive reinforcement is hard. :( But we lavish her with affection and pets and "what a good girl!" every time she goes outside.

    We're taking her to the vet this afternoon just for a post-adoption check-up, so I'm hoping he'll have some insight on other things we can use to encourage her - maybe other types of food or treats or something.

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    When we got our last dog, it took a couple weeks to get her housebroken again.  Lots of standing around outside and positive reinforcement.  I even had a couple times where I stood outside with her for an hour or so, just waiting for her to go.  Then, when she did there were lots of treats or just vigorous petting and calling her "good girl".  She had been abused previously, but within about a week or so she started picking up on the habit of peeing outside. It just took some time and dedication.


    That's the tough part, because she has zero interest in treats or toys. So the positive reinforcement is hard. :(But we lavish her with affection and pets and "what a good girl!" every time she goes outside.

    We're taking her to the vet this afternoon just for a post-adoption check-up, so I'm hoping he'll have some insight on other things we can use to encourage her - maybe other types of food or treats or something.

    I have found the non-food positive reinforcements to be just as effective as treats.  They crave that good attention. We have one dog that is very food/treat oriented and one that couldn't care less about treats.  For the non-food oriented dog, lots of petting keeps him happy and is usually enough reinforcement for him.  We also found that he may not like dog treats so much, but he loves chicken and beef.  When training him, we actually grilled up some chicken breast and gave him chunks of refrigerated chicken when needed... most dogs would have a hard time passing up real meat.  

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    When we got our last dog, it took a couple weeks to get her housebroken again.  Lots of standing around outside and positive reinforcement.  I even had a couple times where I stood outside with her for an hour or so, just waiting for her to go.  Then, when she did there were lots of treats or just vigorous petting and calling her "good girl".  She had been abused previously, but within about a week or so she started picking up on the habit of peeing outside. It just took some time and dedication.


    That's the tough part, because she has zero interest in treats or toys. So the positive reinforcement is hard. :(But we lavish her with affection and pets and "what a good girl!" every time she goes outside.

    We're taking her to the vet this afternoon just for a post-adoption check-up, so I'm hoping he'll have some insight on other things we can use to encourage her - maybe other types of food or treats or something.

    I have found the non-food positive reinforcements to be just as effective as treats.  They crave that good attention. We have one dog that is very food/treat oriented and one that couldn't care less about treats.  For the non-food oriented dog, lots of petting keeps him happy and is usually enough reinforcement for him.  We also found that he may not like dog treats so much, but he loves chicken and beef.  When training him, we actually grilled up some chicken breast and gave him chunks of refrigerated chicken when needed... most dogs would have a hard time passing up real meat.  


    She's so mellow that it's hard to tell when she's really happy, but I hope our pets and praise do make her happy!

    That's what my BFF suggested - chicken, steak, or pieces of a plain hamburger. I might try that tonight.

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    badbnagdwaybadbnagdway member
    First Comment First Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited April 2015
    Yeah so I'd be more worried about her not peeing and pooping much at all than I would about doing it in the house. I would definitely talk to the vet about the frequency of her pee. 

    We recently adopted an adorable fur baby that we found on the street. She was definitely definitely not housebroken. I will say she hasn't pooped in the house, but in the first 8 hours we had her she peed 20 times, and only about half of those were outside. Our girl drinks a ton of water, you fill the water bowl and she drinks it, repeat, over and over. Although we've had her a couple weeks now I think water is still the resource she is most concerned about and that she was really dehydrated and thirsty when we found her. I cannot keep the bowl full. 

    Anyway, she went from having 10 accidents in one day to a handful of accidents in the house the first week, to not having any accidents in the house (although she's had a couple of crate accidents - I can't quite figure these out because she always goes out right before she goes in her crate and she's never in there longer than 5 hours except at night to sleep - and she never has overnight accidents). All we did was what has been recommended -- other than when we caught her in the act of peeing (usually next to the door), we don't ever punish her for accidents. And when we did catch her in the act, we didn't punish but we did say "no, no, no" put the leash on her and immediately ran outside. When she pottied outside we told her she was good and gave her treats the first few days. I think even just the verbal praise is enough in your case if your dog isn't interested in treats. Our girl picked it up really quickly. She does want to pee a LOT, like, if we're sitting in the living room, she wants to go out every 30 minutes. I think she just is still drinking so much water. She learned really quickly and intuitively to tell us she wants to go out by going to the door. 

    Edit just to say -- your new dog is adorable!
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    I don't know if this would help but we bell trained our dog. Basically, we hung bells on our backdoor and every time we went to take her out we would jingle the bells. Then we would take her out to do her business and gave her lots of praise. She caught on pretty quick that if she needed to go she just jingled the bells with her nose. It really helped me because no matter where I am in the house I can hear the bells vs. noticing if she happened to be at the door.
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    Jstump2 said:

    I don't know if this would help but we bell trained our dog. Basically, we hung bells on our backdoor and every time we went to take her out we would jingle the bells. Then we would take her out to do her business and gave her lots of praise. She caught on pretty quick that if she needed to go she just jingled the bells with her nose. It really helped me because no matter where I am in the house I can hear the bells vs. noticing if she happened to be at the door.


    I've heard of this! Once we have her using the bathroom outside consistently, I might try it.

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    Jstump2 said:

    I don't know if this would help but we bell trained our dog. Basically, we hung bells on our backdoor and every time we went to take her out we would jingle the bells. Then we would take her out to do her business and gave her lots of praise. She caught on pretty quick that if she needed to go she just jingled the bells with her nose. It really helped me because no matter where I am in the house I can hear the bells vs. noticing if she happened to be at the door.

    We did something similar, but our dog just taps our door with his nose or paw. However, he does it when he just wants to go outside and play, not necessarily potty. 
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    DF just got home and took her out and she went poo outside again! Such a good girl. :) Seems like things are starting to get somewhat better. We're still going to mention it to the vet, but two poops and two pees in 24 hours, all outside, I'm a little less concerned now.

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    kiwikiss56kiwikiss56 member
    First Comment 5 Love Its Name Dropper First Anniversary
    edited April 2015
    Where we live doggy daycare is actually the same price as getting a dog walker.  Well just a little bit more (if you go 4 days a week you get the 5th day free).
    We have a fenced in yard and installed an automatic dog door that opens when our dog gets close enough (with the collar) and we send him to daycare 2 days a week.


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    Jstump2 said:

    I don't know if this would help but we bell trained our dog. Basically, we hung bells on our backdoor and every time we went to take her out we would jingle the bells. Then we would take her out to do her business and gave her lots of praise. She caught on pretty quick that if she needed to go she just jingled the bells with her nose. It really helped me because no matter where I am in the house I can hear the bells vs. noticing if she happened to be at the door.

    I'm jealous.  We tried that with our dogs and they never picked up on it... the bells have been hanging on our door for over a year now. We gave up on them after a couple months of ringing them every time we took them out. They know the bell means going outside and they will come running when it rings, but they never picked up on ringing it themselves.

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