Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks
September 5, 2008 8:21 PM Subscribe
I need help in literally teaching an old dog a new trick--to pee and poop inside
posted by magstheaxe to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
So my dad owns an elderly (13 year old) pure-bred cocker spaniel, Barney. Barney's lived with my dad for about seven years. He came to Dad from my cousin already housebroken, and was trained to go stand in front of the front door when he needs to pee and poop (he scratches if no one notices him at the door).
In the past several months, Barney has developed cataracts that have severely limited his vision. In bright daylight he does okay, but once the sun sets and the lights inside the house come on, it's harder for him to find his way to the door. In addition, (a) my father is getting forgetful in his old age and frequently misses it when Barney signals that he needs to go outside, and (b) as a senior citizen doggy Barney can't quite hold his bladder the way he used to. The end result is that there's been quite a few accidents.
I've noticed than when Barney can't find his way to the front door, he tends to pee/poop at a certain spot in the kitchen. This is not the only spot in the house he pees/poops in, but it seems to be the most frequent place.
Just to be on the safe side, I did have the vet check Barney out, and he could find no medical reason for Barney to pee/poop in the house. It simply boils down to a combination of Barney not getting to the door in time, and Daddy sometimes not responding when Barney signals.
I would like to re-train Barney to a indoor litter box. I've never had to housebreak a dog before, and of course Barney's already been trained to handle his pee/poop needs a certain way. Anyone have any advice on getting Barney to adapt to a litter box? Is it even feasible to attempt re-training of a dog of his age and health?
I should point out that Barney is a rescue (my cousin's ex-husband physically abused her and Barney both), so please take that into account. In the instance of crate training, I don't think Barney has a problem with confined spaces--there's a spot between the couch in the den and a china cabinet that he loves to curl up in--but I'd hate to find out the hard way. Also, Barney is a loveable dog with a sweet disposition, but due to his abuse he can be very hostile if he feels threatened, in an almost they'll-never-take-me-alive! way. I'd like to keep any re-training as stress-free as possible.
Finally, I will add that my father and I are absolutely crazy about Barney. He has been my father's sole companion since my mother died two years ago, and a source of great comfort to Daddy. I want to do anything I can to make both Dad's and Barney's life easier.