House training a dog who dwells in a condo with shared corridors and an elevator...
September 30, 2011 9:33 AM   Subscribe

How can I house break a 6-year-old rescued scent hound when I live in a condo with shared corridors and an elevator? After searching many rescue listings, I have found a cute dog that seems to be a good fit for me according to the adoption counselors. I plan to meet the dog this weekend and take her home early next week if all works as planned. The rescue agency told me that she doesn't like pooping on leash, but will urinate on leash. They think she'll be OK with the shared corridors and elevator. I'm mainly worried that she will make a mess in these common areas as I don't want to upset my neighbors. It is my understand that she will poop in the house at times because she doesn't understanding the concept of pooping on leash.

How do I go about house breaking an older dog when I live in a condo? She grew up as a hunting dog. He temperament isn't that of a typical hound in that she is calm. They have assured me that she would be a good dog in a calm home, like mine.

I've had lots of experience house breaking puppies back when I had a yard. Back then, when they started to go in the house, I would firmly say, "Wrong," and then immediately whisk them outside. In the condo, I won't be able to whisk the dog outside, so I am worried she won't get the concept of relieving herself outside only.

I plan to use a crate when I'm not at home and at night and keep her close to me when I am home (although, I also worry if I keep her too close she will develop separation anxiety).

I will be off the first week I am with her and will have a dog walker come in the afternoons for the first 2-4 weeks after that. I can't afford a dog walker long term. I'm hoping she will be house broken by then, so she can have the run of the place and not be cooped up all day when I'm at work (I'm gone for about 8.5 hours each day).

Does anyone have any tips or tricks? I have a 4x8 porch, but it's against the rules to allow dogs to relieve themselves out there. I could try a grass mat type thing so she could use that on the porch, but I would rather not break the condo board's rules.

As a side note, I am enrolling her in a basic obedience class starting next weekend.
posted by parakeetdog to Pets & Animals (8 answers total)
I had a reasonably smart dog who had trouble grasping this concept. I bought baby suppositories to make him poop outdoors. Praise and treats for production. He clearly thought that pooping required privacy, but learned that the humans required him to poop on leash.
posted by theora55 at 10:16 AM on September 30, 2011

To a dog, it's just Inside and Outside. There really isn't a distinction between shared indoor areas and private indoor areas, like there is to a person. Just work on the housetraining as you normally would. She goes inside, that's wrong, take her out. She goes outside, she is the Best Dog Ever. She'll get the hang of it.
posted by cmyk at 11:03 AM on September 30, 2011

We adopted a 2-4ish year old, barely housebroken beagle mix a few years ago. Although we don't live in a condo, we did have the challenge of teaching her to do her business outside when we weren't always home to catch her in the act.

First, you don't say what kind of hound she is. If she's small and you're worried about her making a mess in the hall / elevator, consider carrying her outside for the first week or so. She's less likely to go if you're holding her. If she does make a mess, tell her "No" or "Wrong" and take her outside as quickly as possible. There will be a delay, obviously, but the hope is that she'll eventually equate doing her business with going outside. If you find a mess after you get home and don't catch her in the act, don't scold her. She won't know what you're scolding her for. Just clean it up and take her out like you normally do.

Second, be consistent. This made the biggest difference for us. We take our dog out every day around roughly the same times. Dogs love routine and your dog will pick up on when it is time to go out very quickly. In addition to being consistent about the times you take her out, try to take her to the same spots when you want her to go. She'll start to realize that when you take her to that spot, that's what you want her to do.

Obviously, praise, make a big fuss and treat the heck out of her when she does what you want her to do! (I wouldn't encourage the idea of teaching her to go on a grass mat on your balcony, unless that's something you plan to keep up long term.)

Also, get some Nature's Miracle for cleaning up the messes. We've learned that with scent dogs, it's very important to get rid of the hidden smells and enzymes or she'll just keep going on the same place.

It may take more than a few weeks. (Our beagle is a slow learner.) It sounds as if your hound has been kept outside her whole life (not uncommon with hunting dogs), so expect her to have an adjustment period to the whole indoor living thing too - she may be hestitant around or afraid of things like elevators or toasters, or anything she may not have been exposed to previously.

Good luck and pet your new dog for me! Share some photos if you can :)
posted by geeky at 11:27 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

As a follow on to geeky's answer, since she's a hound then your neighbors will get to know the sound of her voice quickly. We're in a detached house and our neighbors all know our dogs (Plott/other hound mix and a beagle-mix) quite well!

Agree with geeky, too, that you do the same thing you'd do with any other house and she'll get the hang of it.

...and post a link to photos!
posted by Man with Lantern at 11:51 AM on September 30, 2011

Oh yes, I forgot about the howling - my beagle doesn't howl! (Or bark. She's weird.)
posted by geeky at 12:40 PM on September 30, 2011

My experience is with a sighthound, not a scent hound, but I was told when we adopted Trai that he was crate-trained and not housebroken. Because he was a retired racing greyhound, his only on-leash experience was from the kennel to the track, so (supposedly) he was not accustomed to on-leash pooping. Anyway, this was my first experience in housebreaking a large adult dog who couldn't be scooped up in one hand after an "accident." We learned to watch his signals - at first he just struck a particular pose and made a certain noise which we learned after two days meant "I have to go!!" Once I recognized his body language, I'd snap on his leash and lead him outside to the back yard. Luckily, we had a fenced-in yard so that he could run around and find the perfect poop place. Anyway, after a few days of grabbing his leash when he gave the "gotta go" signal, Trai simply trotted to the back door and gave his little potty whine. Somehow during those few days he learned that potty outside *anywhere* was OK - quite often he'd beg for his daily walk, I'd let him run in the yard first to hopefullly take care of his toilette, but he'd wait until I'd attached his leash and we'd walked several blocks away before he'd suddenly stop and squat in the middle of a very public sidewalk, oblivious of the leash and my embarrassment. I learned to always carry a doggy refuse baggy on our walks (because my city is very vigilant in ticketing irresponsible dog owners).

Bottom line, walking seems to stiumlate the doggy poop muscles, so eventually your pooch will get used to "going" while on the leash. In the meantime, I suggest placing some puppy training pads around the house whenever you're away and doggy is left to roam free in the condo. We used these with Trai when he was getting on in years and couldn't "hold it" until we got home from work.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:50 PM on September 30, 2011

We had 2 terriers in an apartment one of which wasn't house trained when we got him. We were very careful about having a routine from the start 4 pee walks a day (when we woke up, lunch, evening and pre bed) if we didn't catch them in the act of peeing inside we didn't discipline them. Dogs have to be caught in the act to understand what they are being told off for, telling them off even a minute after is no good.

I was initially too firm in telling our Silky terrier off for pooping in the house and so he got scared and became a secret pooper and took to pooping and peeing in the weirdest spots where he thought we wouldn't find them. So in the end we took to just ignoring his accidents, kept him to the routine and praised him like he'd pooped or peed gold everytime he went outside. He was from an abusive background and 18 months old when we got him so he had a few other issues but he got the hang of it in the end. Patience, repetition and routine are your friends.

Most dogs like to poop after eating so try to do a nice long walk after a meal the combo of the 2 pretty much always guaranteed our boys would do their business during the early evening walks then the others walks were mostly just to break up the day in the house and give them a pee break.

Our rat terrier can easily hold his pee for 8 or 9 hours as long as we take him straight out when we get home, our silky is running at about 80% success for that length of time as he doesn't often have to do it. As long as you get your dog on the routine from the start a few weeks should be long enough to get your dogs bladder trained.

You can get indoor potty pads, I know people that have luck with them, my dogs never really took to them and seemed to get confused by the being sort of allowed to pee indoors thing. Buy some Natures Miracle or some oxyclean and be prepared for a few accidents while you and your dog get a routine happening and your dog gets settled in.
posted by wwax at 2:12 PM on September 30, 2011

You can make a dog poop by sticking a match in it's bum (and removing it). I've never tried this, but read about it when my dog was having pooping anxiety. You may have to wet the match? Something about the sulfur makes them go.

Then you could say "yayomgyou-went-outside-onaleash-here's a bunch of treats. And repeat. Maybe too invasive though?
posted by whalebreath at 10:06 PM on September 30, 2011

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